Grapevine: All in the mind

A round-up of news from around Israel.

Gila Almagor (photo credit: REUTERS)
Gila Almagor
(photo credit: REUTERS)
■ WIDELY KNOWN as the first lady of Israeli theater, Israel Prize laureate Gila Almagor, 77, will be interviewed on Wednesday, April 19 in the Katedra series of cultural events at the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv.
Prof. Idan Segev will not interview her about any specific role that she has played on stage or screen. Instead, in an event titled “It’s All in the Mind” Almagor will be asked about her memory and her ability to remember the texts in the various productions in which she plays.
It’s fairly well known that short-term memory tends to recede with age, whereas long-term memory can be amazingly accurate. The fact that she appears in productions that she may have played in years ago, and remembers the texts within the context of long-term memory is one thing, but the texts of new plays is another, and she remembers those texts as well.
■ TWO RESIDENTS of Tel Aviv are the first-ever Israeli recipients of two scholarship awarded by the Rhodes Trust, whose prestigious international scholarship program at Oxford University has for decades pinpointed future leaders.
The Israelis are Nadav Lidor and Maayan Roichman.
Lidor last year completed a BSc computer science and symbolic systems course at Stanford University, after having previously studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the United World College of Costa Rica. His studies have included natural language processing, artificial intelligence and subconscious social behavior.
Roichman graduated summa cum laude from Tel Aviv University’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology and has a master’s degree in Anthropology.
The two, who were elected at the end of 2016, will begin their studies at Oxford this October. Together with Charles Conn, the CEO of the Rhodes Trust and donors Larry and Judy Tanenbaum, philanthropists from Canada who are supporting the two scholarships, they met this week with President Reuven Rivlin to celebrate the fact that they are the Israeli pioneers among Rhodes scholars. Conn told Rivlin that the Rhodes Trust has long wanted to have scholars from Israel. He was thankful to all those who helped to achieve this, he said, adding that through the support raised by the Rhodes Trust, it is now working toward annually awarding scholarships to Israeli candidates.
Former US president Bill Clinton was also a Rhodes scholar. Nearly all Rhodes scholars go on to make their mark in the world – not necessarily in their chosen field of study.
■ FOR THE past 26 years, Shimon Sebag of Haifa, who founded Yad Ezer LeHaver (A Helping Hand to a Friend), has been helping Holocaust survivors, the elderly and other people in need.
The most lasting lessons in life are more often those we get at home than those we get at school. Way back in 1946, his mother Roza was distributing food to orphan children, and all his life Sebag worried about whether people have enough to eat.
This Passover, in addition to what he does for the elderly and for Holocaust survivors, he is distributing 600 food packages to families in which the parents work, but simply don’t earn enough to pay for regular household expenses.
Sebag operates in Haifa, and it is amazing how many organizations around the country are distributing even larger numbers of food parcels to the poor and how many warm-hearted people are having total strangers at their Seder tables. Not all of these invitees subsist in poverty, but many are living in loneliness, and what they are looking for during the holiday is not so much a meal as the company of other human beings.
Several municipalities have programs designed to bridge the generation gap, and have high-school students visiting senior citizens on a regular basis. Surprisingly firm friendships develop as the young people learn about what life was like in an era when the elderly were young.