Grapevine: Born in Jerusalem

Jerusalem Day is just around the corner.

Jerusalem Day celebrations (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Jerusalem Day celebrations
Jerusalem Day is just around the corner, and many Jerusalemites take pride in the city not only because they live in Israel’s capital but also because they were born there.
Some are first-generation Jerusalemites, some are multigenerational. Either way, the ties that bind them to the city, regardless of whether they still live there, remain strong.
Two of Israel’s presidents, Yitzhak Navon and Reuven Rivlin – both multigenerational Jerusalemites, were born there.
Prime minister Yitzhak Rabin also was born in Jerusalem.
Other political figures both past and present were born in the capital, including former Knesset speakers Dalia Itzik and Avraham Burg, plus Knesset members (past and present) Dan Meridor, Nachman Shai, Bennie Begin, Meir Porush, who is an eighth-generation Jerusalemite, Uzi Baram and Yehoshua Matza, who is a 12th-generation Jerusalemite.
Nobel Prize laureate Ada Yonath was born in Jerusalem, as were Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, the first child to be born in Jerusalem’s Sha’arei Hessed neighborhood, Amram Blau, one of the founders of the anti-Zionist Natorei Karta, ZAKA founder Yehuda Meshi Zahav, who is an 11th-generation Jerusalemite, former longterm president of the Jerusalem Foundation and Teva Pharmaceuticals heiress Ruth Cheshin, who is a seventh-generation Jerusalemite, former chief of the air force Maj.- Gen. (res.) Eitan Ben-Eliahu, stage and screen personalities Shaike Ophir, Nehemiah Persoff, Yossi Banai, Rivka Michaeli, Yehoram Gaon, Mili Avital, Makram Khoury, Yisrael (Poli) Poliakov of Hagashash Hahiver, Avri Gilad, and Natalie Portman, literary icons Amos Oz, A.B.
Yehoshua, Haim Be’er and David Grossman, star soccer players Uri Malmilian and Eli Ohana, political scientist Meron Benvenisti, Hebrew University president Menachem Ben Sasson, celebrity journalist and editor of Maariv Amnon Dankner, honorary consul for Armenia Tsolag Momjian, Supreme Court President Miriam Naor, champion poker player Eliahu Ilan Elezra, supermarket discount king Rami Levy, celebrity chef Assaf Granit, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and many others of note.
■ IT MAY have been a Freudian slip or a deliberate pun on the part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who when addressing the glittering crowd at the opening of the new wing of Beit Hatfutsot – The Museum of the Jewish People, and listing some of the dignitaries present, began with “Knesset speaker Irina Nevzlin....”
The audience in the huge tent burst out laughing, and Netanyahu corrected himself and named Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, who is due to marry Nevzlin next month, with the festivities taking place at the Ronit Farm. The event at Beit Hatfutsot was almost like a dress rehearsal for the wedding, with the lobby of the building redecorated to look like an understated but sophisticated European coffee bar, with superb catering by Maasia under the supervision of chef Haim Sabag, and guests including former US senator Joe Lieberman and his wife, Hadassah; opposition leader Isaac Herzog and his wife, Michal; former ambassador to the US Itamar Rabinovich, who is also a former president of Tel Aviv University, on whose campus Beit Hatfutsot is located; Beit Hatfutsot CEO Dan Tadmor and his wife, Dana; Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky; chairman of the Friends of Beit Hatfutsot Reuven Adler and his wife, Ronit; chairman of the museum’s board of governors Ben-Eliahu and Ravit Tarlovsky; CEO of the World Jewish Congress Robert Singer; and Israel Museum director James Snyder.
Other guests included leading members of the business community who are also keen supporters of Beit Hatfutsot, among them Sami and Tova Sagol; Ofra Strauss; Gad and Talia Zeevi; Gad and Etti Propper; Dan Lahat and his partner, Ronit Reichman; Chana and Benny Pri-Zan; Ami Federmann; and of course the father of the bride, founding chairman of the museum’s board of governors Leonid Nevzlin and his significant other, Tatyana Greenberg. The museum is now gearing up for the official opening on July 15 of the Milton and Tamar Maltz Family Gallery, with the participation of President Rivlin.
■ JERUSALEM POST columnist Isi Leibler and Bnei Akiva, the organization whose Australian branch he headed in his youth, will be among the recipients of honorary doctorates to be awarded by Bar-Ilan University on June 7.
Also among the recipients will be NASA chief Charles Bolden, who is a personal friend of Rona Ramon, who is known in Israel and abroad as the space ambassador.
■ BEFORE LEAVING Israel next Monday, American diplomatic spouse Mary Knight took the photos at her last Diplomatic Spouses of Israel event, which raised NIS 24,000 for Unitaf preschool in the Hatikva neighborhood of south Tel Aviv.
It may be remembered that when prime minister Menachem Begin launched Project Renewal in 1978, the Hatikva neighborhood was in the forefront of his list of priorities.
The funds raised by DSI will go toward refurbishing the Unitaf playground, which neighbors had vandalized to the point of ruin. DSI president Julie Fisher, who is married to US Ambassador Dan Shapiro, announced the designation of the funds at the DSI end-of-year luncheon at the Cassiopeia restaurant in the Herzliya Marina on Tuesday. The luncheon was attended by Unitaf representatives Ofira Ben Shlomo and Rachel Gutman.
The Hatikva Unitaf caters to more than 60 African infants from newborn to three years old, and although it has been operating for 11 years, both the children and their parents are treated with suspicion and hostility by the surrounding population. The facility is subjected to daily acts of vandalism and violence. This includes breaking windows, spraying graffiti or hate speech, and depositing animal feces and trash in the children’s sandbox and play areas, thus contaminating the grounds and rendering the garden useless for outdoor time and play. The preschool is in desperate need of intervention by the legal authorities, who have done very little to prevent the unfettered racism which is poisoning the air.
■ SOME GUYS just blurt out a marriage proposal to their girlfriends. Others want to have a carefully orchestrated occasion in which the proposal will come as a complete surprise in the most unexpected setting.
That’s what happened when Jonatan Saul decided to propose marriage to Shawna Tabacznic. Shawna and her sister came to Israel on the current Birthright program, leaving Saul back home in Toronto. Shawna happens to be a jewelry designer and craftswoman, and Saul asked her to design a special ring for him, not telling her who the recipient would be. Shawna’s sister was let in on the secret, and she and Saul were in regular contact to coordinate his surprise arrival and proposal on top of Masada, where he presented Shawna with the special ring that she had designed. He was fairly certain, when he decided to fly halfway around the world to pop the question, that she would accept the proposal. After seven years together, it was high time to enter into a permanent relationship.
■ NEPALISE DEPUTY Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Kamal Thapa was the guest on Thursday of the Israel Council on Foreign Relations, at a breakfast meeting at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.
Nepal, he said, was the first South Asian nation to recognize Israel, and the two countries have enjoyed an uninterrupted history of cordial relations since 1960.
Recalling the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last year, in which some 9,000 people perished, Thapa expressed his country’s deep gratitude for the disaster relief provided by Israel.
“At that crucial hour, Israel was first to send relief and rescue teams,” he said, noting that “after India, Israel sent the largest such operation. This fact will remain fresh in our memories for many years to come.”
Thapa spoke of deepening ties with Israel, especially in the realms of tourism and agriculture, commenting that direct flights between Tel Aviv and Kathmandu would greatly enhance the flow of tourists.