Holon hosts Grand Prix Gymnastics

The international competition is a highly prestigious event, held in eight major cities across Europe; Israel is the only non-European country to host the event.

 Israeli gymnast Neta Rivkin (photo credit: AMIT SHISEL)
Israeli gymnast Neta Rivkin
(photo credit: AMIT SHISEL)
■ IN KEEPING with a long-standing tradition, the City of Holon hosted the 13th annual international Grand Prix Rhythmic Gymnastics competition, in collaboration with the Israel Gymnastics Association. Rhythmic gymnastics is a very graceful and exciting sport, and one in which Israel usually does well. The international competition is a highly prestigious event, held in eight major cities across Europe. Israel is the only non-European country to host the event that brings together the world’s leading gymnasts, including world and Olympic champions who have already brought honor to their respective countries.
This year’s competition held last weekend at the new Toto Hall featured more than 300 gymnasts from 28 countries and attracted more than 6,000 spectators. It was the first major sports event to be held in the new facility, in the presence of Mayor Moti Sasson, who was very proud of what his city has to offer. Israel’s leading gymnast Neta Rivkin, a veteran of international competition, won a bronze medal. Considering the high level of competitors from Eastern European and Asian countries, who shine in this particular sport, it was a major triumph for Rivkin and for Israel.
■ THE OLD Jaffa railway station, referred to in Hebrew as Hatahana, temporarily took on a new identity last weekend. The Hungarian Embassy, together with the Tel Aviv Municipality and the Israeli-Hungarian software navigation company IGO, created a Hungarian happening under the title Hungarian Days in Tel Aviv. It featured Hungarian jazz and folklore groups plus Hungarian food and wine flown in from Hungary for the occasion. Many of the Israelis who attended also participated with enthusiasm in the Rubik’s Cube contests. Erno Rubik, the Hungarian inventor of the cube puzzle, was in Israel in September and October of last year.
Recent anti-Semitic incidents in Hungary have been damaging to Hungary’s image in Israel, and the two-day festival was designed to create a more positive impression and to help boost tourism from Israel to Hungary. The event drew a crowd of thousands of people. Hungarian Ambassador Andor Nagy said that approximately 300,000 Israelis have some kind of Hungarian connection, either directly or through family members. He said that he often met Israelis who told him how much they had enjoyed their visits to Hungary. He regretted that there were still demonstrations of anti-Semitism in Hungary but insisted that such occurrences ran contrary to government policy and said that the Hungarian government had zero tolerance for anti-Semitism and was doing all it could to eradicate it. Nagy invited all Israelis to visit and see the beauty of his country.
Among those attending the event was Dudi Vernik, an honorary consul for Hungary in Israel. Generally speaking, honorary consuls are citizens of the host country, who work toward improving bilateral relations, specifically in the spheres of economics, culture and sports.
■ SOMETIMES A small, simple act can mean a lot. Mitch Goldhar, the Canadian owner of Israel’s new Premier League Soccer Champions Maccabi Tel Aviv Football Club, hosted Mordechai Ronen from Toronto, a survivor of Auschwitz-Birkenau, at Sunday night’s championship clinching game against Kiryat Shmona at Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv. When liberated a little over 70 years ago, Ronen never imagined that he would be standing in a sports stadium in the Jewish state.
Speaking of the Canadian connection, the Bloomfield Stadium was built by the Bloomfield family of Montreal in honor of brothers Bernard and Louis Bloomfield, who were among major contributors to the state in the early years of its existence. The Bloomfield family continues to support various projects throughout Israel.
■ WHEN HE was a poor boy living in Mahaneh Yehuda, Rami Levy, the founder of Hashikma Marketing, named for the street in the market where he opened his first rather small store, probably never dreamed of becoming a national or international figure. His chain of discount supermarkets and other business ventures in communications made him a national figure, more so when he was invited this year to light one of the Independence Day beacons on Mount Herzl.
Last week, he also came to international attention when within the framework of the annual meeting of the International Board of Governors of Tel Aviv University he was awarded the prestigious Hugo Raminceaunu Prize in Economics.
Last year’s winners were WAZE founders Uri Levine, Noam Bardin, Ehud Shabtai and Amir Shinhar. Among previous winners is Israel Prize laureate and former two-term governor of the Bank of Israel Prof. Jacob Frenkel, who since January 2013 has been chairman of the TAU Board of Governors.