Grapevine December 31, 2021: For he’s a jolly good fellow

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

 Reuven Rivlin receives an honorary fellowship from the Open University of Israel, conferred on him by former Supreme Court president Dorit Beinisch (left), who heads the university’s board of governors and university president Prof. Mimi Ajzenstadt. (photo credit: ODED KARNI)
Reuven Rivlin receives an honorary fellowship from the Open University of Israel, conferred on him by former Supreme Court president Dorit Beinisch (left), who heads the university’s board of governors and university president Prof. Mimi Ajzenstadt.
(photo credit: ODED KARNI)

He may be out of office, but Reuven Rivlin, the 10th president of the State of Israel, is not yet out of the limelight. Over the past six months, he has been appointed president of a hi-tech company, been seen publicly with his new significant other, joined entertainment personalities backstage at Habimah to celebrate the birthday of Einat Sarouf, and received an honorary fellowship from the Open University of Israel this week. 

The honorary fellowship was conferred on him by former Supreme Court president Dorit Beinisch, a member of the university’s board of governors, and Open University president, Prof. Mimi Ajzenstadt.

Rivlin received recognition for his many years of service to the state and to society as expressed in the various roles in which he served, his devotion to the state, his courage in standing up for the values of democracy which he holds dear, his efforts to seek peace with Israel’s neighbors and his bridge building between what he terms the tribes of Israel.

Other honorees were Bible scholar Prof. Yair Zakovitch; former governor of the Bank of Israel Karnit Flug; former chief scientist Dr. Orna Berry, who currently serves as director of technology in the office of the CTO at Google Cloud; and book publisher Israel Carmel, the proprietor of Jerusalem-based Carmel Publishing. Both Berry and Flug were the first women to hold the key positions in their respective fields.

■ BAR-ILAN University, this week conferred a Lifetime Achievement award on popular singer Yardena Arazi in recognition of her contribution to Hebrew song and the performing arts. The award was in the context of BIU’s Brookdale Program.

 FROM LEFT: Dr. Yaniv Goldberg, Yardena Arazi, Bar-Ilan University rector Prof. Amnon Albeck, Brookdale Program director Yona Tilman. (credit: YONI REIF)
FROM LEFT: Dr. Yaniv Goldberg, Yardena Arazi, Bar-Ilan University rector Prof. Amnon Albeck, Brookdale Program director Yona Tilman. (credit: YONI REIF)

Arazi was honored for her five decades of musical accomplishments, shaping the Israeli style of Hebrew music and the performing arts, and being one of the country’s most significant and influential performing artists. University rector Prof. Amnon Albeck together with Brookdale program director Yona Tilman and Dr. Yaniv Goldberg presented the award to Arazi.

Arazi, who began her career in Haifa as a soloist in Efi Netzer’s singing group, continued her professional path in the Nahal Band, the Chocolate Menta Mastik musical trio, and as a soloist. She also participated in movies, musicals and TV shows for children, youth, and adults, and co-hosted the first Eurovision song contest in Israel. Some years later, she competed in Eurovision. 

She has hosted an Israeli television morning program and many state events, while continuing her musical activities and shaping the new Israeli genre in musical albums, many of which have become enduring classics. This year, Arazi celebrated her 70th birthday and had a street in Haifa named in her honor.

Goldberg described Arazi as an Israeli icon who has been part of the culture, entertainment and stage world for many years. As the daughter of a fighter in the Irgun paramilitary organization and a mother who was active in the French Resistance during World War II, Arazi continues in their path, living in accordance with the country’s ideals while making a significant artistic statement, he said. Arazi responded that it warms her heart to receive an award from such an important academic institution. It was something she does not take lightly, she added.

The Brookdale Program presents a lifetime achievement award annually. Under director Yona Tilman, it conducts an enrichment program for senior citizens.  It has been operating for 40 years under the auspices of the university president. Previous recipients of the award include performing artists Lea Koenig, Miriam Zohar, Gila Almagor, Shlomo Bar-Aba, Hana Laszlo, Shaike Levi, Moni Moshonov, Sandra Sadeh, Yona Elian, Natan Datner, Mike Burstein, Chaim Topol, Tiki Dayan and many others who have made an indelible imprint on Israeli cultural and artistic life.

■ YOU CAN take the man out of the Foreign Ministry, but you can’t take foreign affairs out of the man. After a distinguished foreign service career spanning three decades, Ron Prosor, who prior to his ambassadorial roles was director-general of the Foreign Ministry, turned to academia and heads the Abba Eban Institute at the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy at Reichman University. Prosor is a second generation diplomat; his late father, Uri Prosor, served in the Foreign Ministry from 1958-92. 

Ron Prosor is returning to practical diplomacy with his appointment as ambassador to Germany. The appointment closes a circle for him in more than one respect. Firstly, his father was born in Germany and secondly, early in his career Prosor served as spokesman at the Israeli Embassy in Bonn before, during and after the fall of the Berlin Wall. 

He was in Bonn from 1988-92, but the Germany he is returning to is somewhat different to the one when he served. Jeremy Issacharoff, Israel’s outgoing ambassador to Germany was vice director-general at the Foreign Ministry before his appointment to Berlin. He has a long career in the foreign service and while serving in Washington in 1994 as the third highest ranking member at the Israeli Embassy was the first Israeli diplomat to have contact with the UAE. 

Rumor has it that Issacharoff would have liked to have been appointed ambassador to the UK, but would have had to wait until the three-year contract of current incumbent Tzipi Hotovely, a political appointee, expires in August 2023. Had he been appointed as ambassador to the UK, he would have been the third British-born ambassador of Israel to hold the position. 

The previous ambassadors were the late Yehuda Avner, who served from 1983-88, and Daniel Taub, who served from 2011-15 and is currently director of strategy and planning at the Rothschild Foundation in Jerusalem. 

If Issacharoff had become the third British born ambassador to the UK, it would have constituted a hat trick for British aliyah. This is unlikely to happen. Issacharoff tweeted this week that after four years in Germany and 40 years in the foreign service, he is retiring at the end of March 2022 with immense satisfaction and pride regarding the excellent state of relations and strategic partnership of the highest order between Israel and Germany.

■ AWARE OF the importance of the recycled furniture exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum by multi-disciplined Japanese contemporary artist and furniture designer Yayoi Kusama, Ofer Eitani, the proprietor of IDesign invited leading personalities from the spheres of architecture and construction to an evening of arts and design at the museum. 

After viewing  Kusama’s creativity, they saw an IDesign exhibition of recycled furniture by the company’s chief designer Oren Nuri, which is part of the company’s new collection for 2022. The ecology-conscious collection is entirely comprised of recycled furniture. Among the guests were Michael Michi Setter, Gal Naor, Yoav Messer, Michael Azoulay, Yaron Rockman, Ron Avidan and Limor Goldstein ,Ram Goldberg and Ronit Yudkevitch and Eli Barak.

■ LEKET ISRAEL was founded 18 years ago by Joseph Gitler with the aim of feeding people in need by collecting surplus crops from fields and surplus meals from restaurants, hotels and banquet halls. It has mounted a soup campaign. It is more difficult during a shmita (sabbatical) year and with corona restrictions to collect surplus food than in an ordinary year. 

According to Gitler, $180 can provide soup for 60 people and there is a reason why establishments that feed the poor are known as soup kitchens! Many people, including the poor, are put off by fruit and vegetables that show signs of deterioration, but such items can still be used in hearty, healthy soups that taste good and fill the stomach. 

A report this week on the huge amount of food waste in Israel because people buy more than they need when tempted by specials in the supermarket would indicate that when consumers over-buy they could automatically put aside certain amounts of food to be donated to Leket or alternately have a money box into which they put the sum they would have needlessly spent on specials until it accumulates to the equivalent of $180. 

This would take less time than people imagine. Soup is one of the most appreciated winter foods, as evidenced by the number of eateries that have large cauldrons of soup at the entrance to their premises and by hotels that specialize in soups.

If every apartment block had a special bin to deposit food that is still edible and a direct contact to Leket or similar organization there would be no reason for anyone to go hungry.