Grapevine: A savior for Kiryat Shmona?

Kiryat Shmona has been in the news because nearly all its cultural facilities have closed down for lack of budget.

311_sarkozy making donut holes (photo credit: Associated Press)
311_sarkozy making donut holes
(photo credit: Associated Press)
■ KIRYAT SHMONA has been in the news because nearly all its cultural facilities have closed down for lack of budget. While neither the government nor the Union of Local Authorities came to the rescue, there was a knight in shining armor in the person of non-stop philanthropist Nochi Dankner, chairman of the IDB Group, which supports dozens of projects in Galilee and Negev communities. When Dankner read about the plight of Kiryat Shmona, he met with Mayor Nissim Malka and told him that the IDB Group was committed to the city and that the library, community center and theater could all be reopened.
Dankner shared the story on Sunday night in Jerusalem with members of the Governing Board of the World Jewish Congress, after having received the WJC’s Herzl award. He urged the government, the Knesset, the business community and the global Jewish community to put their weight behind Kiryat Shmona and work together for all the communities in Galilee and the Negev.
■ AMONG DANKNER’S personal friends who attended the award ceremony were Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jun and Rabbi Ya’acov Ifergen, aka X-Ray (or Rentgen in Hebrew), known for his uncanny ability to see below the surface and thus advise people on business transactions, health issues and matters of the heart.
Dankner is rumored to frequently consult Ifergen before embarking on new ventures. He will probably be among the multitudes who converge on Ifergen’s home town of Netivot on July 7 when the latter holds the Jewish equivalent of a wake to honor the memory of his late father Rabbi Shlomo Ifergen, who was known as the Baba Shlomo.
■ IFERGEN IS not the only relatively young but powerful rabbi to attract a large following of politicians and businesspeople. Another is Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, who used to be on a frequent commute between Israel and the US, where his gift for clairvoyance turned him into a regular guru. Pinto recently acquired a new home in Ashdod.
His housewarming party, which was somewhat different to those held in the secular community, was attended by numerous politicians and businesspeople – among them Interior Minister Eli Yishai, Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon, Transportation Minister Israel Katz, MKs Dalia Itzik, Isaac Herzog and Yoel Hasson, former deputy defense minister Dalia Rabin, actress Tzofit Grant, and business tycoons Lev Leviev and Ilan Ben-Dov.
■ MISSING FROM among the thousands of people of German background or descendants of people who lived in the Austro-Hungarian Empire who made their way to the Tefen Industrial park last week to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the German aliya was Michael Federmann, president of the Israel-Germany Chamber of Commerce.
It’s not that Federmann, the sabra son of well-known German immigrants, didn’t want to be there. It was just that he had other things on his mind, such as the wedding of his son Daniel to Sharona Pick, the daughter of singer/composer Zvika Pick and lyricist Mirit Shem-Or. Federman and his wife, Liora, made their home in Herzliya Pituah available for the celebration, which was attended by leading figures from the business and entertainment communities as well as from academia.
In addition to chairing Dan Hotels and Elbit Industries, Federmann is president of the International Board of Governors of the Hebrew University (of which he is an economics and political science graduate) and a member of the Board of Governors and executive council of the Weizmann Institute.
■ SOME 90 guests gathered at the Herzliya Pituah residence of Japanese Ambassador Haruhisa Takeuchi, who hosted a reception in honor of the Israeli government officials and the Israel team engaged in aid activities following the Great East Japan earthquake.
The ambassador expressed his heartfelt gratitude for the swift and generous aid extended by the government of Israel and delivered messages of appreciation from the mayors of Minami Sanriku-cho and Kurihara-shi, where the Israel Aid Delegation carried out its mission. The ambassador presented a certificate of commendation to Brig.- Gen. Shalom Ben-Arie, head of the aid delegation, and a plaque to Col. Ophir Cohen Marom, chief medical officer of the delegation, in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the recovery of medical service in Minami Sanriku-cho.
Japan will now give something to Israel by way of Tanabata, a festival encompassing a traditional tea ceremony, a wishing tree, Japanese calligraphy, lectures about Japan, Japanese storytelling and much more. The late afternoon event will be held on Thursday, July 7 at the Holon Mediatheque.
■ THE FRENCH Institute’s Paris-Tel Aviv Festival, which includes exhibitions of music, film, art and photography, among others, began this week and will culminate on June 30 when it will blend into Tel Aviv’s White Nights. The film shown this week was Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, whose cast appropriately includes Carla Bruni, the wife of President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose twins are expected close enough to the elections to possibly make a difference.