Grapevine: Anniversaries coming and going

Spanish Ambassador Fernando Carderera and his wife, Victoria, hosted two consecutive receptions in their Herzliya Pituah residence to mark Spain’s National Day.

SPANISH AMBASSADOR Fernando Carderera joins former president Shimon Peres in a toast after receiving his credentials in 2012 (photo credit: GPO)
SPANISH AMBASSADOR Fernando Carderera joins former president Shimon Peres in a toast after receiving his credentials in 2012
(photo credit: GPO)
Spanish Ambassador Fernando Carderera and his wife, Victoria, hosted two consecutive receptions in their Herzliya Pituah residence to mark Spain’s National Day on Monday. The ambassador credited his wife with managing the total production for the evening.
Indeed, the huge Spanish flag floating in the swimming pool was dramatically effective, as were the enormous red and yellow flower arrangements, with ribbons in the same colors hanging from the base.
Although the weather was relatively mild, nearly every woman and a few of the men present were waving red or yellow fans which they had been given as they entered the building.
Kosher dairy food was served in the upstairs deck overlooking the pool, and food that the ambassador said was “not necessarily kosher” was served downstairs, and included inter alia tapas, countless churos, 1,700 sandwiches, 1,200 cheese pastries, 700 burekas and three legs of Iberian ham which had been specially flown in for the occasion.
Carderera began the evening on a sober note by sending condolences and expressing solidarity with all the families of victims of terrorist attacks, and then, as he does so frequently these days, spoke of Spain’s new legislation with regard to granting citizenship to descendants of Jews expelled from Spain in the 15th century. Yet even in the lands of their dispersion, he noted, they kept Spain with them, teaching their children Ladino songs, maintaining Spanish culture and recipes for generations. “We take the Sephardi heritage as ours,” he said.
There has been a lot of interest in Israel in acquiring Spanish citizenship, he said, and he will be happy to give Spanish passports to those who qualify for Spanish citizenship. Since the law was passed, some 4,300 Sephardim have been granted Spanish citizenship, he stated.
What was perhaps more immediate, in terms of what was on his mind, was the 13th anniversary celebrations in 2016 of the creation of diplomatic ties between Israel and Spain. Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay has been the most widely utilized representative of the government, simply because he is not a Member of Knesset; and given that Spain’s National Day coincided with the opening of the Knesset’s winter session, it was only natural that Gabbay be the minister on hand.
Gabbay thanked Carderera for voicing solidarity and said that Israel is strong and will overcome this difficult period. He commented that Spain and Israel have a shared history and both have an ability for quick recovery – Israel in 1948 with the proclamation of statehood and Spain in the aftermath of the Franco regime. No one would have believed 25 years ago that it would happen so quickly, he said of Spain.
Underscoring the $12.5 billion volume of trade between the two countries Gabbay was optimistic that it will continue to grow.
Speaking from an environmental standpoint, Gabbay said that Israel and Spain both know the importance of the Mediterranean coast and sustainable development.
■ WHILE SPA IN is getting ready for 30th anniversary festivities, Germany is winding up a year of celebration marking the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties with Israel. This year, German Unity Day, hosted by Ambassador Dr. Clemens von Goetze and his wife, Sonja, at the Tel Aviv Museum, was a double whammy in that it also celebrated the 25th anniversary of the reunification of Germany. The event was highlighted by a concert of works by Beethoven and Mendelssohn given by the Merck German Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Wolfgang Heinzel.
Guests of honor were Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, the Governing Mayor of Berlin Michael Muller, and Johannes Baillou, chairman of the board of partners of E. Merck KG and vice chairman of the executive board of E. Merck KG. A message sent by President Reuven Rivlin noted the extraordinary friendship that has developed between Germany and Israel despite the shadow of the Holocaust.
■ GOOD MANNERS seem to desert many of the guests at diplomatic events as soon as the speeches start – especially if the event is in a hotel banquet room and not in the ambassador’s residence. Thus it was quite remarkable, at least for a few minutes, that there was absolute silence during the first part of the address by Yun-sheng Chi, the representative of the Republic of China, at the 104th National Day reception of Taiwan.
Although the representative is in essence the head of a diplomatic mission and recognized as an ambassador in those countries with which Taiwan has full diplomatic relations, in most countries, especially those like Israel which place great value on their relations with the People’s Republic of China, there are no full diplomatic relations and the focus is more on trade and culture than on politics.
That may explain the large representation from Israel’s business community. Indeed, visitors to Taiwan will hear quite a lot of Hebrew if they attend any of the Chabad events at which Israelis network with one another. There was also quite a large representation of the 100 or so Taiwanese living in Israel, with most of the women exquisitely gowned, which is not surprising given the elegant clothing stores in Taipei’s main boulevard.
The banquet room at the Sheraton Hotel in Tel Aviv is relatively small compared to those of some of the other hotels in the area, which makes the noise levels a little higher.
Members of the representative’s staff tried in vain to get the crowd to stop talking for just a few minutes.
One of the Israeli guests with a very loud and authoritative voice took the initiative, grabbed the mike, demanded silence – and got it. One can only surmise that he’s a reserve officer in the IDF. There was total silence as Chi began, but unfortunately it didn’t last for long.
Chi dwelt briefly on history, noting that when Sun Yat-sen founded Taiwan in 1912, it was the first republic in Asia. The founder’s blueprint has been realized, he said.
“The people in Taiwan are enjoying freedom, democracy and evenly distributed wealth.”
Turning to the significance of the year 2015, he said that it marks the 70th anniversary of the republic’s victory in the War of Resistance against the Japanese. At a special ceremony held in Taiwan on September 1, President Ma Ying-jeou met with, and presented medals and certificates to, the descendants of heads of state and generals of the Allied Forces of World War II as well as to republic generals from the War of Resistance. Among the recipients were the grandchildren of former US presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman and Dwight Eisenhower.
Moving into promising developments in relations with the Chinese mainland and the government of the People’s Republic, Chi said that the Taiwan Straits separating the Chinese mainland and Taiwan used to be a killing area, “but now reconciliation, peace and cooperation between the ROC and the PRC have transformed it into a peaceful arena.”
Cross-Strait trade last year reached $174.5b., and the number of mainland visitors to Taiwan in 2014 was a record high of 3.94 million. Even more amazing is the fact that there are 890 cross-Strait commercial flights every week, covering 54 cities in the mainland and eight in Taiwan. There are also student exchange programs, and 32,911 students from the mainland are currently studying in Taiwan.
f nothing else, it gives hope to Israel and the Palestinians. Taiwan’s relations with Israel are also constantly improving, or to quote Chi, they are “strong and growing stronger.”
A number of cooperation agreements have been signed between the two countries and more are in the pipeline.
Deputy Knesset Speaker Nachman Shai (Zionist Union), who for several years now has been chairman of the parliamentary Israel-Taiwan Friendship League, said that he is very pleased to represent the Knesset and the league, and added that Israel attaches a lot of importance to relations with Taiwan, mainly because both countries are democracies. Referring to the current security situation in Israel, Shai a former IDF spokesman, said: “We have been through times like these in the past and overcome them, and we will do so again.”
The highlight of the evening was a martial arts display known as Bajiquan by Dr. Tsao-hwa Chi, who is a fourth generation master of Bajiquan, as well as a professional veterinarian.
He and his wife specially came to Israel for the occasion. The display looked like a graceful ballet dance, with the possible exception of when Chi was lunging with an ancient curved sword. A member of the representative’s staff said that when Chi’s movements are used in combat, they’re lethal. These methods are used by the secret service of the president of Taiwan.
■ APROPOS SHAI, it’s possible that he won’t be hanging on to any of his present titles for much longer.
He’s a front-line contestant in the upcoming elections for the chairmanship of the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund, competing against incumbent Efi Stenzler and MK Dani Atar. The Labor Party is due to decide next week on the identity of its candidate, and the actual elections will also be held next week during the 37th World Zionist Congress.
■ MOST ISRAELIS and Jews in general, when they think about the Second World War, relate primarily to the Holocaust and tend to ignore Asia and the Pacific, where the war was no less vicious, despite the absence of gas chambers. There were many casualties on all sides, with more than half a million civilian casualties in Japan and in excess of 2.5 million military casualties. As Israel’s relations with Asian countries grow increasingly stronger, more is being taught and learned about their respective languages, culture and history.
Of the Asian countries, Japan was among the first to enter into diplomatic relations with Israel more than 60 years ago. Since then, exchange visits have been at the highest government levels, but beyond kimonos and the taste of sushi, it would be fairly safe to say that most Israelis don’t know very much about Japan.
That lacuna will be partially rectified beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, October 25, when the Embassy of Japan, in conjunction with the Israel Association of Japan Studies and the Herzog, Fox & Neeman law firm, will host a lecture and panel discussion on “Postwar Japan: The Democratic and Pacifist Legacy in a 70-year Perspective.”
The lecturer and central panelist is Prof. Yuichi Hosoya, professor of international politics at Keio University, Tokyo, senior researcher at the Institute for International Policy Studies and senior fellow at the Tokyo Foundation. He is also a member of the advisory board of Japan’s National Security Council.
The other members of the panel are Prof. Ehud Harari of the Hebrew University, who is an expert on Japanese politics, and Prof. Rotem Kowner of the University of Haifa, who is a specialist on the history of contemporary Japan. The moderator is Akiva Eldar, the chief political columnist for Al-Monitor. The venue is the Herzog, Fox & Neeman conference hall in Asia House, Tel Aviv. Entrance is by preregistration only at ■ MEMBERS OF the public often wish for a chance to personally meet with leading politicians so as to tell them how the country should be run. Every Tom, Dick and Harry plus their female counterparts know better than the elected officials how the country’s problems should be handled.
One of the politicians who is himself a former member of government and a former finance minister is Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, who, now that he’s on the other side of the table, is frequently chiding the government and telling its members to do all the things he refrained from doing while in office. Many politicians, Lapid included, get closer to the electorate on Saturday mornings on what in Hebrew is known as Shabbat Tarbut, which literally translates as Culture Sabbath.
The only problem with such events is that they rarely make provision for the religiously observant who would like to attend but not before the conclusion of synagogue services. If observant Jews can sit in the audience without raising objections about the use of a microphone, surely Shabbat Tarbut organizers can meet them halfway by starting the program a half hour later.
Be that as it may, Lapid will be speaking on Saturday morning, October 17, at around 10:30 at Pinchas Rosen House, one of the retirement homes of the Association of Central European Jews, at 185 Aluf David Street, Ramat Hen in Ramat Gan. Also on the program will be journalist Ilan Kfir, who has written biographies on Ehud Barak and Benjamin Netanyahu, and Israel Prize laureate Prof. Asa Kasher, who is responsible for the code of ethics of the Israel Defense Forces. The moderator will be Israel Radio’s Liat Regev.
ON THE subject of finance ministers, singer and actor Yehoram Gaon is starring in a comedy in which he plays the finance minister of Israel. He may be more comfortable in the role than audiences realize.
In the dim and distant past, he had ambitions to be mayor of Jerusalem.
He failed to win the election, but he did win a seat on the city council and held the portfolio of cultural affairs and special education needs for almost a decade, and even after leaving the council, he continued to maintain an active interest in Jerusalem’s cultural affairs and in children with special needs.
US AMBASSAD OR Dan Shapiro and his wife, Julie Fisher, hosted a Succot reception at their residence to honor the extraordinary athletes, coaches and families of Israel’s Special Olympics team. The 40-member team competed and won 62 medals in events ranging from basketball to table tennis at the recent Special Olympic World Games in Los Angeles.
Celebrating with the athletes was a diverse group of advocates from the public and private sectors and civil society, who are actively engaged in hiring, working with, and advocating for people with disabilities in Israel.
“I may be the only one here bearing the official title of ambassador,” said Shapiro, “but each and every one of you is an ambassador, truly representing the best of the human spirit.”
The event also featured a performance and workshop by dancers from BODY TRAFFIC, a Los Angeles- based dance troupe that is performing throughout Israel for a diverse group of audiences.
“These athletes are such an inspiration,” said Fisher. “It was an absolute honor to be able to mark Succot with them and others who are already doing so much for those in Israel’s disabled community.”
The night was capped by a fierce match between Shapiro and Lin Kornhauser, Israel’s competitor in Ping-Pong.
■ YOU DON’T have to be an American ambassador to associate yourself with people with special needs or with victims of terrorism.
American entertainers such as Matisyahu also qualify.
Matisyahu put on a special performance in Jerusalem for 350 youth and adults who were either orphaned, bereaved or injured by terrorism. Afterward he had an emotional meeting with some of the families who attended the concert, which was under the auspices of OneFamily, which is dedicated to working on behalf of victims of terrorism and seeks to bring joy back into their lives.
This was not the first time that he had performed under the auspices of OneFamily. He had also done so in New York and has two more performances planned for London and New York. Some of the families who are returning what was done for them by becoming activists within the organization joined Matisyahu, plus eight members of his band, at a Friday dinner last week at the home of one of the most prominent of the OneFamily activists. This, too, was an emotional experience, as the singer listened intently to the stories of each family, asking questions here and there and developing an unbreakable bond with them.
■ THERE HAVE been countless media reports about the long-term grudges borne by Sara Netanyahu against anyone who attacks her husband.
Yet at the opening of the winter session of the Knesset this week, reporters were fascinated to see the prime minister’s wife, who was sitting next to Michal Herzog, the wife of the opposition leader, in animated conversation with her. Were they discussing the possibility of their husbands joining forces in the face of the current terrorist crisis? It appears not. From investigations conducted by The Jerusalem Post’s intrepid political reporter Gil Hoffman, the main subject of the conversation was MK Tzipi Livni’s new hairstyle. Netanyahu not so long ago began sporting an attractive new hairstyle herself, but she should tell her husband to dilute the blue rinse.
■ FRIENDS AND lovers of Yiddish will be pleased to know that the Arbeter Ring in Tel Aviv has resumed activities, and on Wednesday, October 14, is presenting its first program for the winter season at its headquarters, 48 Kalisher Street, Tel Aviv, at 11:30 a.m. for the convenience of those people of the third age who are reluctant to venture out at night. The program will begin with a lecture by Dr.
Lea Ayalon on Yiddish writer Y.L.
Peretz, and afterward Chen Laks, accompanied by Menny Lazarowitz, will lead the audience in community singing of Yiddish songs.
The moderator will be Shura Grinhoyz Turkow, who will intersperse her patter with poetry recitals.
■ REUN IONS OF former classmates are usually one-day or onenight affairs, but in the case of graduates of the Jewish Agency’s Institute for Youth Leaders from Abroad, generally known as the machon, it was a weeklong tour of Israel by alumni of the 25th program, who studied in Israel in 1959-60. Back then, there were 97 young participants, aged 17-21. They came from North America, Western Europe and even North Africa, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, where Zionist movements were still allowed to function. They included members of Habonim, Dror, Hashomer Hatzair, Bnei Akiva, Young Judea, Student Zionist Organization, B’nai B’rith Youth and the younger generations of the Reform and Conservative movements.
The program comprised a half year of intensive leadership training studies in Jerusalem, and half a year on a kibbutz or moshav associated with their respective movements.
The Hashomer Hatzair group was privileged to have the young future historian and Holocaust scholar (Prof.) Yehuda Bauer as their teacher on Kibbutz Shoval, while the Bnei Akiva group was taught by rabbi and future MK Haim Druckman.
Most of the members of the 1959- 1960 program have made their mark in Israel and Jewish communities abroad. They got together again last Sunday, and on Tuesday one of them, Israel Prize laureate Prof. Emanuel Tov, an internationally renowned expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls, took them on a guided tour of the Shrine of the Book. Others in the group include Prof. Ami Sperber, a noted expert in gastroenterology, David Eisenman, who was director of Swiss Air in Israel, former rabbi of New Orleans Vic Hoffman, who is one of a number of prominent rabbis from the group, Hillel Schenker, co-editor of the Palestine- Israel Journal, award-winning glass artist Peter Layton, and many others who are leaders in their respective Jewish communities.
Two who were sadly missing were Ribby (Soifer) Ben-Yitzhak, who was killed in the 1975 refrigerator bombing in Jerusalem’s Zion Square, and David (Rosen) Tal, half of the famous singing duo Hedva and David. The Ben-Yitzhak Award, presented annually to an outstanding children’s book illustrator by the Israel Museum, was established in memory of Ben-Yitzhak and Tal.
Hedva and David won the Japanese Song Festival with “Ani Holem Al Naomi” (I Dream of Naomi), the No. 1 Israeli song of 1970.
The political diversity of the group is reflected by the fact that Ronnee Jaeger was one of the three founders of Machsom Watch, while Rachel Saperstein was spokeswoman for the Gush Katif settlers during the disengagement in 2005.
Indirectly, the group even has a representative on the Israeli movie screens these days, since six-yearold Jo Jo Kushner, granddaughter of Shosh and Rabbi Paul Kushner (a civil rights activist, whose brother Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote When Bad Things Happen to Good People), plays the daughter of Anne Hathaway in the new Robert De Niro film The Intern.
The institute, which was established in 1946 to ensure the post-Holocaust continuity of Jewish leadership, was the brainchild of Avraham Harman and a group of South African Jewish community leaders. Harman subsequently became a diplomat and Israel’s ambassador to the United States.
He was also the founding president of the Israel Council on Soviet Jewry and president and chancellor of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
■ IT’S MUCH more difficult to find a suitable or unusual birthday gift for an adult than for a child, but when celebrity chef, cookbook author, lecturer, restaurant owner and a member of the Master Chef adjudicating panel Michal Ansky celebrated her 35th birthday with friends, who included fellow chefs Yonatan Roshfeld and Mika Sharon, Italian Ambassador Francesco Maria Talo presented her with the most unusual gift of all – an additional title – that of Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella della solidarietà italiana, which is the equivalent of a knighthood (or damehood) in recognition of her promotion of Italian cuisine in Israel. Needless to say, the birthday menu consisted of Italian delicacies which were washed down with Italian wine.