Grapevine: Jerusalem in their hearts

A round-up of news from around Israel.

SARA NETANYAHU wears Castro. (photo credit: Courtesy)
SARA NETANYAHU wears Castro.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
During the Independence Day celebrations at the President’s Residence, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman was asked by moderator and Channel 10 news anchor Tali Moreno what Jerusalem means to him. Liberman replied that for as long as he could remember from his earliest childhood in the Soviet Union, his parents used to listen to the Russian-language broadcasts relayed by “Kol Yisrael [the Voice of Israel] from Jerusalem.” It was something that helped to forge identification with Zionism among Soviet Jewry, and to turn a dream into a hope and a reality, he said. The Voice of Israel from Jerusalem is still his favorite radio outlet, he declared.
When Moreno asked when he first felt truly Israeli, Liberman said that when he arrived in 1978 at age 20, he found work almost immediately as a porter at the airport. The other porters invited him to come to eat a falafel and put something very spicy on it before they gave it to him. After the first bite, he instantly began to perspire, but when asked, he said that it was very tasty. They gave him another one that was even spicier, and he thought his head would burst, but when asked again how he liked it, he replied once more that it was very tasty. And so he received another falafel that was spicier still. After he ate it, he received a pat on the back and was told, “You’re an Israeli. You’re one of us!” PRIOR TO the Independence Day opening ceremony on Mount Herzl, there was a minor scandal, in that “Jerusalem of Gold,” written by Naomi Shemer and premiered in public on the night after Independence Day, 1967, by Shuli Natan, was sung by Rita and not by Natan, who had been invited to sing the refrain but not the whole song. Understandably, she declined.
But the following morning at the President’s Residence, Natan, who is more closely identified with the song than anyone else, sang it solo, at the end of which President Reuven Rivlin rose to his feet and applauded her, saying that her rendition was just as marvelous now as it had been the first time he heard her sing “Jerusalem of Gold” 50 years ago.
There had been some expectation that in view of the media hullabaloo, Rita would back out and give the floor to Natan – but that did not happen.
The dramatically clad Rita changed her style from that of a screamer to present a dulcet-toned rendition even more delicate than that of Natan.
But the singer who arguably may have received the most enthusiastic reaction to “Jerusalem of Gold” was operatic soprano Daniella Lugassy, who at the closing dinner of the annual United Israel Appeal Conference in Hezekiah’s Cave in Jerusalem wowed participants from more than 25 countries with an amazing, spirited rendition that brought almost everyone to their feet with cellphone cameras poised.
Lugassy was a great hit and got a roaring ovation after each song, especially when she got the audience to join her in singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Good-looking with natural stage presence, she also wended her way through the audience, singing as she went along, and they followed her around the candle-lit cave as though she were the Pied Piper. She also danced with a couple of the men, and judging by the looks on their faces, they were thrilled.
However, throughout Independence Day, the stars of radio were Yehoram Gaon and Natan – he more so than she, possibly because he has more Jerusalem songs in his repertoire than she does, and Jerusalem was the theme of this year’s Independence Day activities. Both Gaon and Natan will be busy singing during Jerusalem Day celebrations later this month.
THERE IS no better advertisement for a fashion company than a celebrity wearing one of that company’s creations, not for an event in which designers lend their garments to film stars to parade on a red carpet on their way to the Academy Awards presentations, but simply as a matter of choice.
Ran Rahav, who heads one of Israel’s best-known public relations companies, has for most of his career been the PR representative for Castro. He and his wife, Hila, are also among Israel’s leading socialites and are invited to numerous events for which many would give their eye teeth for an invitation. They are also frequent hosts of scintillating dinners and parties.
It stands to reason that they rub shoulders with all the who’s who in Israel, including the prime minister and his wife.
The Rahavs have a knack for treating their clients as extended family, and are therefore invited to many of their clients’ family celebrations. Among their other clients are United King film distributors, whose proprietors Leon and Moshe Edery are friends of the Netanyahus, partially because the Netanyahus are great film buffs.
It stands to reason therefore that the Rahavs would meet the Netanyahus at some event at Leon Edery’s home in Caesarea.
What all this is leading up to is the meeting between Ran Rahav and the Netanyahus at the reception for diplomats at the President’s Residence on Independence Day. Rahav was there in his capacity as honorary consul of the Marshall Islands. The Netanyahus were obviously there because the prime minister is also the foreign minister. Rahav, who is always aware of the creations in a Castro collection, instantly recognized the pants suit worn over a delicate feminine blouse as having come from the Castro collection, and was so delighted with Sara Netanyahu’s choice that he put out a press release the following day in which he described the tailored suit and who was wearing it.
AUSTRALIAN AMBASSADOR Dave Sharma retweeted someone else’s tweet with which he obviously agrees: “New Hamas document does not reject terrorism – does not accept Oslo – does not accept Israel in any borders. Hardly a recipe for peace.”
ALTHOUGH THEY call themselves the Jerusalem Women Writers, not all of them actually live in Jerusalem, but they do have an annual seminar in Jerusalem, and because they all happen to be religiously observant, Jerusalem as such is high on their personal and professional agendas.
They will be meeting on Tuesday, May 9, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the Shirat Yerushalayim Hall, 54 Kanfei Nesharim Street, Givat Shaul, Jerusalem.
Speakers and presenters will include: Chaya Hinda Allen, Tamar Ansh, Yaffa Ganz, Ann Goldberg, Malky Lowinger, Esther Heller, Ruthie Pearlman, Riva Pomerantz, Tzippora Price, Jonathan Rosenblum, Yocheved Rottenberg, Batya Ruddell, Malka Schapps, Debbie Shapiro, Sarah Shapiro, Avigail Sharer, Penina Taylor, Carol Ungar, Elka Weber, Shifrah Devorah Witt, Miriam Zakon and Emmy Zitter.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the event will be the opportunity for making one-on-one appointments throughout the day with leading publishers of books and magazines.
Organizers say that the event is not limited to professional writers, and that amateurs will be welcome.
CONCERNS ABOUT how the memory of the Holocaust will be preserved, once the generation of the Holocaust fades away, will be discussed by second-generation survivors Eileen Fridman, Solly Kaplinski and Rose Lerer Cohen at a panel evening to be hosted by the Jerusalem branch of Telfed, the South African Zionist Federation in Israel, WITS University Alumni Israel, and the Zionist Council in Israel on Monday, May 8, at the Weizmann Hall of the Jewish Agency, 48 King George Street, Jerusalem. The moderator will be Roy Scher.
AUSTRALIAN JEWISH politician Michael Danby, who is a frequent visitor to Israel, hosted a discussion and film event at the Classic cinema in Melbourne on Holocaust Remembrance Day. Melbourne barrister Amanda Mendes Da Costa previewed the critically acclaimed BBC film Denial, which is based on Deborah E. Lipstadt’s highly praised book History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier and adapted for the screen by David Hare.
The book details Lipstadt’s legal battle for historical truth against historian David Irving, who accused her of libel and sued her when she declared him a Holocaust denier. In the English legal system, the burden of proof is on the accused; therefore, it was up to Lipstadt and her legal team to prove the essential truth that the Holocaust happened.
Notwithstanding her power of oratory and her obvious knowledge of the subject, there was no way in which Mendes Da Costa could command more attention than two elderly ladies in their nineties, who are possibly the oldest living survivors of the notorious Mengele experiments on twins in Auschwitz. When Danby introduced the 94-year-old sisters Annetta Able and Stephanie Heller, the audience was astonished – first that Holocaust survivors had lived to such an age, but more so in view of the fact that the sisters, despite their Mengele ordeal, were spry and very much with it and more than ready to retell their memories of Auschwitz.
ONE LAST Australia-related item: While most Israelis celebrated Independence Day with barbecues, picnics, visits to museums and nature reserves, two Israelis who traveled down under celebrated in a much more unusual manner.
Instead of banging a plastic hammer on someone’s head, as used to be the norm as part of Independence Day celebrations, they banged a somewhat weightier hammer – or rather a gavel – on a bell that signified the beginning of trading at the Australian Securities Exchange.
Oren Elkayam, founder and CEO of Mobilcom, and Yossi Segal, the company’s vice president of research and development, used a Star of David gavel to launch Mobilcom on the ASX. The Israeli company, whose technology enables .private and secured mobile wireless communication networks to operate without the need for any existing infrastructure, has completed an initial public offering of $7.5 million through the issue of 37.5 million shares.
Mobilcom, which currently has more than 30 clients in 12 countries throughout Europe, Asia and the US, will use the funds from the IPO to enhance its marketing and sales activities in various sectors such as government, enterprise and commercial, as it develops and releases new products.
Elkayam said he was thrilled to see Mobilcom listed on ASX, and he was particularly pleased that the IPO had been significantly oversubscribed, most specifically by investors from Australia and Hong Kong.