Grapevine: The celebrations are in full swing

For Jerusalemites, the festive period is not yet over – thanks to the Japanese Embassy.

Ambassador Matthew Gould, his wife Celia and their daughters, with young people from AKIM Givatayim who came to help decorate their succa. (photo credit: COURTESY BRITISH EMBASSY)
Ambassador Matthew Gould, his wife Celia and their daughters, with young people from AKIM Givatayim who came to help decorate their succa.
■ FOR JERUSALEMITES, the festive period is not yet over – thanks to the Japanese Embassy, which in cooperation with the Jerusalem Municipality, the Israel Center for the Advancement of Culture and Knowledge, the Foreign Ministry and the First Station, is hosting a Japanese Culture Festival from Sunday, October 19 to Saturday, October 25, with free entrance.
Although the Jerusalem Municipality is taking much of the credit for the festival, Japanese Ambassador Shigeo Matsutomi has been telling people about it for more than a month, and is thrilled to be able to present aspects of his country’s cinema, sport, art, music, technology and gastronomy to the Israeli public.
The festival includes a wide range of traditional and modern customs such as martial arts, origami, ikebana and more.
There will even be sumo wrestling workshops by legendary sumo wrestler Konishiki Yasokichi, as well as performances by renowned singer Miyako Miyazaki and the Heavance band. Food-wise, visitors to the “rising sun” festival will be able to eat Japanese-style dishes from the restaurants and cafes in the festival area, and join a sake-tasting workshop and cooking classes with the renowned chef Ezra Kedem, who will be working in tandem with leading Japanese chefs.
Japanese films will be screened at the Jerusalem Cinematheque, accompanied by talks and lectures by special guests from the Japanese Film Festival as well as experts in the field.
The festival will take place at four different Jerusalem locales: Emek Refaim Street, the First Station, the railroad park and the cinematheque. Coincidentally, this week in Tel Aviv, the Israeli Opera kicked off its 30th anniversary season with a ballet of Madame Butterfly performed by the Israel Ballet and the Israel Symphony Orchestra Rishon Lezion.
■ WHILE JERUSALEMITES will be imbibing Japanese culture, residents of Tel Aviv and surroundings will be getting a taste of something British – and not only by way of fish and chips. The Friends of Beit Hatfutsot, the Museum of the Jewish People, are basing their annual gala on Sunday on the opening of the Amy Winehouse exhibition, which according to museum staff is something quite different from previous exhibitions held there.
Guests of honor will be British Ambassador Matthew Gould and his wife, Celia, who this week hosted young people from the AKIM Givatayim branch who came to help them decorate their succa. This is the fourth consecutive year in which the Goulds’ succa has been decorated with the help of AKIM – and this year, 3-year-old Rachel, the older of the Goulds’ two Sabra daughters, also helped.
AKIM is a national nonprofit that represents some 30,000 mentally challenged individuals, many of whom have a creative spark – as demonstrated by their creations of colorful paper chains, drawings and artwork for the succa, as well as papier-mâché pomegranates and apples.
Gould characterized the joint enterprise as a wonderful tradition, which he, his wife and their daughters, Rachel and Emily, enjoy very much. This year, they plan to sleep in the succa for the first time.
Gould said they were very happy with their partnership with AKIM, and really value the year-round work they do. AKIM is not the only Israeli organization the Goulds have taken to their hearts; Matthew Gould has worked tirelessly to raise funds in England for the needs of Israeli Holocaust survivors.
■ IT’S NOT certain that he welcomes the publicity, but one of the outcomes of Sweden’s decision to recognize Palestinian statehood is that Swedish Ambassador Carl Magnus Nesser has suddenly been thrust into the limelight, and his comments have been widely reported in the electronic and print media. There will likely be more to come in the near future, as diplomatic correspondents continue to report on the development and turn to Nesser for comment and clarification.
In politics and diplomacy, the old adage that the enemy of my enemy is my friend does not hold water, because every country, political party and movement is first and foremost concerned with self-interest. Presumably the same holds true for Sweden, because in the midst of the diplomatic tempest created by its announcement, Nesser told Israel Radio that Stockholm wants to continue to develop a good, constructive relationship with Israel.
■ A REGULAR columnist in Ma’ariv Hashavua, one of several publications in the Jerusalem Post Group, Lior Dayan – the son of filmmaker Assi Dayan, who died earlier this year; and the grandson of legendary soldier and government minister Moshe Dayan, who was chief of general staff at the time of the Yom Kippur War – dropped a bombshell last week, just before the declassification of certain documents pertaining to that war.
Lior wrote that two years ago on Yom Kippur, his father told him that on the Day of Atonement in1973, he received a telephone call in the morning from Lior’s grandfather Moshe, who warned him it was going to be a difficult day, and he should not be surprised if within a few hours the sky was filled with planes.
“Get ready,” he told him. “Get ready for difficult days ahead.”
■ DUTCH RESISTANCE fighter and Holocaust survivor Ted Marchand, who celebrated his 100th birthday last week, received a congratulatory visit at his home in Hadar Am by Netherlands Ambassador Caspar Veldkamp.
Born in Amsterdam in 1914, Justus E.
(Ted) Marchand served as an officer in the Dutch military at the outbreak of the Second World War. During the Nazi occupation, he and his wife Hetty joined the Dutch resistance, and Marchand was subsequently arrested and imprisoned in the notorious camp Vught in the occupied Netherlands. He was later sent to Auschwitz as a schutzhäftling (prisoner in protective custody). Imprisoned in camp Auschwitz III (Monowitz), he survived the Auschwitz death march and was further imprisoned in the Dora-Mittelbau concentration camp, from which he was liberated by the Americans in 1945. Two years later, he arrived in what was then Palestine, fought in the War of Independence and subsequently began building a new life; he has been living in Hadar Am since 1951.
A book that he wrote about his life before and during World War II was published in Dutch in 1999. Widowed in 2007, Marchand continues to live independently.
One of his two sons and several of his grandchildren have homes nearby, and maintain close contact. Marchand’s mind is still sharp and for a man of his age, he is quite active.
Veldkamp was impressed by Marchand’s memory and sophisticated sense of humor, and considers him to be an inspiration to younger generations.
■ PEOPLE MEMORIALIZE their loved ones in different ways. Yair Malcha, one of the owners of the Café Greg chain of coffee shops – mindful that his late brother, Ohad Eli Malcha, was a sports fan – organizes an annual sports happening in his memory, and did so again last week. The event in Haifa, attended by some thousand participants and spectators including Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav, city council members, prominent businesspeople, sports personalities and people affiliated in one way or another with Maccabi Haifa, included a friendly football match in which a team made up of Café Greg employees played against Maccabi Haifa. This was the fifth consecutive year in which Malcha hosted a sports event in memory of his brother.
■ CORRUPTION SEEMS to be built into the power psyche.
We have a former president in jail; a former prime minister who is on trial, and whose prison sentence hangs in the balance; a former finance minister who has completed his prison sentence, as have at least three other former government ministers; a former chief rabbi who is going on trial; a guru rabbi who may worm his way out of a prison sentence by turning state’s evidence; MKs who have been on trial and in some cases sentenced; several mayors who are on trial or who have been recently tried; judges, army and police brass who, at the very least, are facing charges of inappropriate conduct but may in the final analysis find themselves behind bars; and heads of public companies whose fiscal wrongdoings have caught up with them in prison.
The list could go on, but merely forms a backdrop for the revelations that will be made on Tuesday evening, October 21, at Jerusalem’s Museum on the Seam, when Arye Avneri, journalist, author and founder of Ometz, the organization dedicated to clean politics, discusses corruption on the part of people in political leadership and discloses some new and surprising facts.
■ IN ISRAEL, when discussing major philanthropic gifts, the donors are primarily from North America followed by Europe, particularly England. Australia seldom gets a mention, despite the fact that Australian Jewish philanthropists have made massive contributions to education, the environment, culture and medicine.
Among the wealthy Australian families with philanthropic or company-related foundations whose names can be linked to various projects in Israel, in addition to the many Jewish and non-Jewish causes to which they contribute in Australia, are Pratt, Gandel, Lowy, Werdiger, Smorgon, Same, Leibler and Triguboff – to name but a few.
The Pratt Foundation, established in 1978 by the late Richard Pratt and his wife Jeanne, in 1998 extended its activities to Israel and has helped numerous nonprofits operate hundreds of projects with a view to strengthening links between Australia and Israel. One of the most visible of the Pratt Foundation’s investments in human welfare, with a very obvious link between the two countries, is the Park of the Australian Soldier, which commemorates Australia’s involvement in the 1917 Battle of Beersheba that resulted in a victory against the Turks.
Every year on October 31, the Australian ambassador together with the Beersheba mayor hosts a special event in the park to honor the bravery of the soldiers of the Australian Light Horse Brigade – and will do so again this year, together with representatives of the Pratt Foundation, various Australian youth groups that are spending time in Israel and, of course, Australian expatriates who live in Israel.
Among the visiting Australians are those who may have previously come to Israel on Taglit-Birthright. Many of the Australians whose first experience of Israel was via Taglit were sponsored by Gandel Philanthropy, which is committed to Jewish continuity and whose various Israel projects include a Jewish literacy initiative at the Hebrew University.
The Zionist Federation of Australia announced last week that Gandel Philanthropy has recommitted itself to Taglit-Birthright, with a new three-year grant that will support three groups traveling to Israel in the coming year, plus others in the following two years, covering a total of 360 young people aged 18-26. The Australian Jewish community is geographically one of the furthest from Israel, so this gift is really quite substantial.
Gandel Philanthropy is one of Australia’s largest independent family philanthropic funds and was founded by businessman John Gandel and his wife, Pauline. John Gandel has consistently been listed by Forbes magazine as one of the 10 wealthiest people in Australia.
■ THE PASSOVER and Succot Country Fairs at Moshav Modi’in, the moshav founded nearly 40 years ago by late singing rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, reverberate with his music. Many singing guitarists who appeared with Carlebach in concert or at spontaneous sing-alongs continue to honor him by spreading his teachings and singing his songs, and a younger generation that did not know him but grew up on his music ensures his memory will linger for a long time to come.
The upcoming country fair on Monday, October 13, will be even more special than its predecessors – because it comes just ahead of the 20th anniversary of Carlebach’s passing. Aside from live music provided by well-known performers such as Benzion Solomon and sons, Yehuda Katz, Aryeh Naftaly, Yitzhak Attias and many others, there will be a special guest appearance by Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, who will dialogue with Michael Golomb, who frequently traveled to Europe and around the US and Israel with Carlebach. In addition, there will be activities geared to children, workshops for women, sales of arts and crafts and clothing, yoga, a theater performance and more.
Emuna Witt Halevi, who edits the annual Shlomo Carlebach almanac Kol Chevra, will be on-hand with copies of the 20th-anniversary memorial edition that has just come off the press. She already has orders from 30 Carlebach congregations, which proves the immortality of Carlebach’s spirit.
Though deeply religious and an extraordinary scholar, Carlebach came under a great deal of criticism for the unorthodox manner in which he brought Jews who had strayed from the fold or had grown up in totally assimilated families back to Jewish identity and observance.
It is impossible to tell how many practicing Jews today would have been lost forever to the Jewish world were it not for Carlebach’s influence. Even from the grave, he continues to draw Jews back to Judaism.
■ THE FRIENDS of the IDF has announced the appointment of two new senior executives to lead the expansion charitable organization that does so much to support the IDF. Maj.-Gen. (res.) Meir Klifi- Amir has been named national executive director, and Alan E. Scholnick, CEO. Their appointments were announced on separate dates, effective immediately. The two new FIDF senior executives will oversee the organization as it grows its fund-raising infrastructure, building upon the strong foundation developed over the last 33 years, with the mission of supporting well-being services and programs for IDF soldiers.
Klifi-Amir joins FIDF following a 33-year military career in which he served as a soldier and senior officer in the Paratroop Brigade, as well as commander of the Givati Brigade. He held a wide range of commanding roles, including heading two IDF divisions, and served as deputy chief of the Ground Forces Command. He was also military secretary to two prime ministers, including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, acting as his special military and security adviser and his partner in national security decisions. Following his IDF service, Klifi-Amir worked as a security consultant, specializing in national security and strategic planning for governments and agencies worldwide; he founded his own security firm in 2012.
Scholnick is a highly successful entrepreneur and real estate executive, with more than 25 years of leadership experience that also includes notable achievements in the finance and aviation industries.
He has been deeply involved in Jewish communal life, as an active lay leader with multiple national philanthropic and nonprofits including AIPAC.
The two men will succeed national director and CEO emeritus Maj.-Gen.
(res.) Yitzhak “Jerry” Gershon, who has overseen more than six years of unprecedented organizational growth.
FIDF raises approximately $85 million annually to support the well-being of Israel’s soldiers, and has more than 120,000 loyal supporters, with 15 regional offices throughout the US and Panama.
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