Grapevine: Diamond blessings

Australian Ambassador Dave Sharma (photo credit: Courtesy)
Australian Ambassador Dave Sharma
(photo credit: Courtesy)
■ AS HAPPENS every year, the traditional New Year toast of the Israel Diamond Exchange in Ramat Gan, hosted by exchange president Shmuel Schnitzer, was graced by Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau. While Lau is indeed invited to many events, not only in Tel Aviv, his presence at the Diamond Exchange, most of whose members are religiously observant, is of particular significance because in the diamond business, deals are sealed with a handshake and a Hebrew blessing of mazal and bracha.
An additional blessing from the rabbi doesn’t go astray. Religious Jews have for centuries figured prominently in the diamond business in their home countries and around the globe. Because they were so frequently persecuted and forced into nomadic lifestyles, Jews had to find a means of livelihood that was universally recognized, free of religious or ethnic prejudice and easily transportable from one country to another. Diamonds, relatively small in size and stored in velvet pouches, enable a sizable fortune to easily be carried in a coat or trouser pocket.
Even today, some diamond merchants walk around with a treasure trove in their pockets.
■ THE MANAGEMENT of the Dan Hotel chain has a healthy respect for all the companies with which it does business, be they suppliers, project co-sponsors or project beneficiaries. They all get together shortly before Rosh Hashana for the annual Lord and Lady Dan Club’s annual dinner, where they are indeed feted like nobility. This year, 500 of them, including the general managers of all the hotels in the Dan chain, were hosted at the Dan Accadia Herzliya Hotel by the hotel’s general manager, Dubi Rakia, and Rafi Baeri, marketing manager of the Dan chain. The the Greek-style barbecue meal that was served to representatives of companies such as Bank Hapoalim, El Al, Teva, Osem, Unilever, Shufersal, Migdal, Elbit, Microsoft, SuperPharm, Yahoo, Cisco, Padani, LG, Coca-Cola, Hitachi and more was fit for a king. The Federmann family, which heads the Dan chain, was also well represented. The meal was held outdoors on the poolside patio overlooking the sea so that guests could enjoy the spectacular sunset. Entertainment was provided by singer/guitarist Moshe Lahav, whose repertoire of Hebrew songs is endless, and comedian Kobi Arieli. Guest of honor was Paralympic champion Pascale Berkowitz. The Dan chain has for several years been a sponsor of the Israel’s Paralympic team.
■ AS HAS happened every year since the establishment by the Pratt Foundation in 2008 of the Park of the Australian Soldier, the Australian Embassy, together with the Beersheba Municipality, will host a commemorative ceremony to mark the 98th anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba, in which the Ottoman-controlled city was conquered by British and ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) troops on October 31, 1917. The historic charge of the 4th Light Horse Brigade of the Australian Mounted Division played a critical role in the British victory in this major battle. Because the actual anniversary falls on a Saturday, the services this year will be held on Friday, October 30, with speakers including Australian Ambassador Dave Sharma and Beersheba Mayor Ruvik Danilovich.
The service will begin at 9 a.m. at the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery, after which there will be another ceremony at the nearby Turkish Memorial Monument. This will be followed by a gathering at 10 a.m. at the Park of the Australian Soldier, and a tribute to the Australian Light Horse Brigade at 10:45 a.m.
The event, which is always attended by a large representation of foreign diplomats and military attaches, also attracts a crowd of British, Australian and New Zealand expatriates living in Israel. In previous years, there have also been children and grandchildren of members of the 4th Light Horse Brigade; there might also be some this year. The biggest Australian Light Horse representation is expected in two years’ time for the centenary commemoration. It will precede by two days the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, for which big plans are being made by the Israel, Britain and the Commonwealth Association, as well as other organizations. The erection of a Turkish Monument near the Commonwealth War Graves cemetery was the initiative of former mayor Yaakov Turner, who said the Turkish war dead should be honored for having fought bravely. There was no moral dilemma involved in putting up the monument because the Ottoman Empire was not anti-Jewish. In fact, many Jews expelled from other countries found a haven in Turkey when it was under Ottoman rule.
■ DUE TO unnamed pressures, Yael Bar Zohar, star of the original production of Zvika Pik’s musical Mary Lou, has dropped out of the current production, in which she was also supposed to star. Bar Zohar’s romance with Guy Zoaretz, who was the male star 10 years ago, blossomed into marriage and a family.
The couple appeared together in 400 performances of Mary Lou, and Zoaretz remains the male lead in the current production. Bar Zohar’s place has been taken over by Shir Morano.