Grapevine: Armchair India

The ambassador, who is also a published author , will have a vested interest in at least one aspect of the festival.

entrance to UK Ambassador home 58 (photo credit: URIEL MESSA)
entrance to UK Ambassador home 58
(photo credit: URIEL MESSA)
■ INDIAN AMBASSADOR Navtej Sarna will next Monday host a press conference at Beit Sokolow in Tel Aviv to announce the details of a month-long festival of Indian culture that will include theater performances, meetings and discussions between Indian and Israeli writers, dance recitals, concerts, art exhibitions, films, and Indian cuisine. The festival will not be limited to Tel Aviv alone, but will also be held in Jerusalem, Haifa and Herzliya.
The ambassador, who is also a published author with several books to his credit, will have a vested interest in at least one aspect of the festival, which opens on April 29: Israelis who never got around to backpacking in India or visiting the exotic subcontinent for any other reason will be able to enjoy a multifaceted Indian experience without leaving home.
■ PEACE CHILD Israel, a project supported by the Public Affairs Office of the US Embassy, this week premiered its bilingual adaptation of West Side Story, the acclaimed Broadway musical by Leonard Bernstein, at the Anis Theater in Jaffa.
The PCI actors are Arab and Jewish teenagers, who by getting together on stage and working as a team, learn to overcome mutual hostilities and look at each other first and foremost as human beings. Veteran singer and actress Melisse Lewine Boskovich, the director of Peace Child Israel, never puts on a play without first getting the cast to sit down and talk about their prejudices, fears and hopes. This is her way of fostering coexistence, because as they discuss their feelings, the youngsters realize they are not so different from one another.
The productions chosen usually deal with conflict and its resolution. Last July, Habimah hosted Peace Child Israel at a Du Drama festival and began a relationship in which its members provide master classes for the budding PCI actors and actresses.
The bilingual adaptation of West Side Story was presented in memory of Alan B. Slifka, an American Wall Street investment manager, entrepreneur and venture philanthropist who was co-founder of the Abraham Fund and other ventures aimed at eradicating national, ethnic, religious and gender prejudices and promoting peaceful coexistence. Slifka died in February.
Lewine Boskovich has a special fondness for Bernstein. She sang with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra which Bernstein conducted at the Sultan’s Pool in Jerusalem in honor of former mayor Teddy Kollek’s 70th birthday; she has recorded Bernstein songs for the Israel Broadcasting Authority; and in 1995 she opened the office of the Leonard Bernstein International Music Competitions.
Anyone who missed the opening of West Side Story can see the next performance on May 16 at Eshkol Payis, Tel Aviv Ironi Alef High School.
■ BNEI BRAK may be experiencing a change of image. No, it’s not losing its religious character, but it is gaining a new commercial character with the launch last week of the Bnei Brak Business Center at a gala event co-hosted by the city’s Mayor Ya’acov Asher and international business tycoon Lev Leviev, who lived in Bnei Brak before moving to London. The funny thing is that before moving into his posh London mansion, Leviev probably spent more time abroad than he did in Israel.
Now that he’s no longer officially living here, he seems to be in Israel more than ever before. The launch was held at the Concorde Towers, one of the newly built properties of Africa Israel, in which Leviev has the controlling interest.
Government ministers including Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Knesset members were among the guests, as was Governor of the Bank of Israel Stanley Fischer. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu couldn’t make it but sent a video in which he congratulated the initiators of the new project, which he said would integrate more haredim into the work force.
Bnei Brak is known as one of the poorest of municipalities, and Mayor Asher was hopeful that the Business Center would help to generate jobs
■ THE RIVALRY may not be official, but nonetheless, it looks like Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and Holon Mayor Motti Sasson are vigorously competing to see which one can make his city more attractive to residents and visitors alike.
Jerusalem has a temporary ice skating rink at Kikar Safra, and of course there was the international marathon last Friday; but Holon, in addition to its highly publicized Design Museum, which opened just over a year ago – not to mention the Children’s Museum and Mediatech – is in the process of completing a Children’s World Water Park, which hopefully will open to the public later this month.
The water park is Sasson’s brainchild, and was created in conjunction with the Holon Entertainment and Leisure Company, headed by Shimshon Chen.
Constructed over an eight-dunam expanse and at an investment in excess of NIS 25 million, Children’s World, incorporating the most advanced water park technologies from Holland, includes Jumping Jets and a water playground, plus numerous other attractive fixtures that will delight any child, and the child within any adult.