Grapevine: Waitangi reunion

New Zealand's Waitangi Day; Lieberman, Westerwelle sign bilateral relations agreement; old Jaffa's Hatahana with Rachel Witzman; Bank Hapoalim's mega art show; the Amit School in Hatzor.

Lieberman Westerwelle 521 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Lieberman Westerwelle 521
(photo credit: Associated Press)
■ FOR KIWIS living in Israel, Waitangi Day commemorating the signing on February 6, 1840, of the Treaty of Waitangi, is as much a national holiday as it would be if they were still living in New Zealand. At this year’s Waitangi Day Reunion at Yad Lebanim in Ra’anana, participants will get a sense of the old country with the performance of a traditional Maori haka by a guest from UNRWA.
Keynote speaker will be prize winning author Shifra Horn, who has spent several years in New Zealand. and whose time there inspired her book The New Zealand Experience. Horn will share some of her impressions, after which participants will have the opportunity to watch The Man Who Lost His Head, a brilliant British-New Zealand film about a curator from the British Museum being sent to New Zealand to discuss the return of an ancient Maori carving to its original home so that the fortunes of the community can be restored.
■ IT CAME as no surprise that the signing of a joint declaration for the expansion of bilateral relations by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and his German counterpart Guido Westerwelle took place in the Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv on the day prior to the arrival of German Chancellor Angela Merkel; or that Merkel stayed in the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. While it’s true that the King David traditionally hosts heads of state, in recent years it has encountered competition from the more modern David Citadel Hotel.
But as far as Germany is concerned, there is a special reason for utilizing the facilities of the Jerusalem and Tel Aviv flagships of the Dan Hotel chain. Michael Federmann, who is chairman of the chain, heads the Israel Germany Chamber of Commerce and both he and his late father, the legendary German-born Yekutiel X Federmann, cofounder with his brother Samuel Federmann of the Dan chain, have been singled out for awards by Germany in recognition of their efforts to enhance relations between Israel and Germany.
■ ONE of the joys of going to an art opening at Hatahana, the old Jaffa railway station is that the surrounding boutiques, restaurants and coffee shops remain open till quite late, enabling visitors to catch two or more birds with one stone. It’s also within easy walking distance of Jaffa and its manifold attractions on one side, while the park at the back leads directly to picturesque Rehov Shabazi in Neveh Tzedek.
All these aspects and more may be the reason that Rachel Witzman, originally from Eilat, chose to have her exhibition Black Magic Women at Hatahana. Don’t be misled by the title: The exhibition has nothing to do with witchcraft, but with the artist’s fascination with the striking features of the Sudanese women whom she encountered in Eilat. Sensitive to both their suffering and their nobility, she photographed them from every possible angle, then went on a trip around the world photographing black women, some of whose likenesses inspired her massive oils on canvas.
On returning to Israel, she settled in Tel Aviv, carefully reviewed her hundreds of photographs and selected 40 women to grace her paintings. It bothers her that in most societies black women have a peripheral role. She wants them to have a central place. This is why they dominate her exhibition which remains on view from 12 noon to 10 p.m. till February 28.
■ WHETHER YOU want to contribute to the war against AIDS, acquire a work of art or just rub shoulders with the rich and the famous, save the date on Friday, February 18, when Shari Arison, the wealthiest woman in Israel, together with Yair Seroussi, chairman of Bank Hapoalim, and Zion Keinan, the bank’s CEO, will for the 12th consecutive year host a mega art show at the bank’s management headquarters in South Tel Aviv.
■ EDUCATORS and witnesses to important historical events are often skeptical about whether the next generation will learn to value this historical moment and its heroes. However, they need have no worries regarding the crop of students currently attending the Amit School in Hatzor. As a matter of policy, school principal Avichai Golan and members of the school board decided to dedicate the school’s semi-annual report cards to Jonathan Pollard, whose portrait is engraved on each card together with a prayer for his release. This is not the students’ first encounter with Pollard’s story. They’ve been involved in marches on his behalf, and they’ve collected signatures from residents of the area and from fellow students on Pollard petitions.