Grapevine May 22, 2022: Back to roots

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

 Ioana Ciocan, the director of Art Safari, is seen with Israel Ambassador to Romania David Saranga. (photo credit: Israel Embassy in Romania)
Ioana Ciocan, the director of Art Safari, is seen with Israel Ambassador to Romania David Saranga.
(photo credit: Israel Embassy in Romania)

Two of Israel’s most famous artists, Reuven Rubin and Marcel Iancu, commonly known as Janco, were born in Romania where they continue to be revered. Rubin returned to Romania as Israel’s first ambassador there, and a retrospective exhibition of Ianco’s works is currently on view at Art Safari in Bucharest. Curated by Raya Zommer Tal, the director of the Janco-Dada Museum in Ein Hod, the exhibition is a joint initiative of the Dada Museum and ambassador to Romania David Saranga. Iancu, who moved to pre-State Israel in 1941 – following a pogrom in Bucharest – has earned his place in art history as the founder of the Dada Movement but followed a variety of disciplines. He was a graphic artist, painter, and architect as well as a profuse writer of essays.

As an architect, he was responsible for the designs of many prestigious buildings in Bucharest, including the city’s central swimming pool, which in 1929, was completed in 25 days. It was the largest swimming pool in Europe, and 3,000 workers were engaged in the project. It was much more than a swimming pool; it had dining facilities, a post office, shops and a parquet floor for dancing. In other words, it was a multiple leisure outlet, photographs of which appear in the exhibition, which is jointly sponsored by Romania’s Ministry of Education and the Israel Embassy. More than a hundred works are included in the exhibition, many of them brought from Israel, but others culled from private collectors, museums and galleries. The exhibition will be on view till the end of the summer.

Israel and Romania have a long and special relationship. The two countries established full diplomatic relations on June 11, 1948. Some 400,000 Romanian Jews migrated to Israel, including the Holocaust-survivor parents of singer Shlomo Artzi.

During the Cold War in which the Soviet Union and all the Soviet-bloc countries in Eastern Europe severed relations with Israel and also made life very difficult for their Jewish communities, Romania was the only Communist country which continued to maintain relations with Israel.

Even the evil former president Nicolae Ceausescu, the last Communist leader of Romania, who together with his wife Elena, was executed by a firing squad on December 25, 1989, figures favorably in Israeli history, in that he helped to broker the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt.

 PRIME MINISTER Menachem Begin holds a special press conference to announce the Osirak reactor bombing, June 9, 1981. Also present: Uri Porat, PM media adviser (L) and IDF Chief of Staff Rafael ‘Raful’ Eitan (R).  (credit: NATIONAL LIBRARY OF ISRAEL) PRIME MINISTER Menachem Begin holds a special press conference to announce the Osirak reactor bombing, June 9, 1981. Also present: Uri Porat, PM media adviser (L) and IDF Chief of Staff Rafael ‘Raful’ Eitan (R). (credit: NATIONAL LIBRARY OF ISRAEL)

In 1977, he told then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who had visited Romania in August of that year that then-Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was prepared to meet with him. Romania enjoyed good relations with most of the Arab states. Sadat came to Israel later that year, and prior to the signing of the peace treaty, in March, 1979, there were some 40 meetings between Egyptian and Israeli representatives, which indicates that both Israel and Egypt are indebted to Romania.

■ CONSIDERING THEIR status only 100 years ago, women have made remarkable progress in becoming not only part of the decision-making process, but also in being elected or appointed as head of state, government or local authority. France’s newly appointed Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne has helped to tilt the scale just a little further to the distaff side. It’s not as if women never had influence. Even in what was very much a man’s world, women who sat on thrones in their own right or as the wives of kings, wielded power and influence. Britain’s present Queen Elizabeth II, who is celebrating her platinum year, has set a world record for time at the throne; her great, great grandmother Queen Victoria, who also reigned for a very long time, was quite a powerful figure. And let’s not forget people such as Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Isabella of Spain, Marie Antoinette and Catherine the Great. But in more contemporary times in which women were elected or appointed, most people have probably never heard of Khertek Archimaa-Toka, who from 1940-44 headed Tannu Tuva, a socialist republic near the Russian-Mongolian border that no longer exists. So, credit for the first contemporary female prime minister goes to Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, who was elected to three nonconsecutive terms beginning in July 1960.

Although Israel has had only one female prime minister to date, a second woman Tzipi Livni came close. She was given the opportunity but failed to form a coalition, and thus had to cede to Benjamin Netanyahu. But Golda Meir and Livni were not the only female leaders of political parties. The others were Shulamit Aloni, Geula Cohen, Tamar Zandberg, Orly Levy-Abecassis and present Labor Party leader Merav Michaeli. There has not yet been a female president of Israel. Former Knesset speaker Dalia Itzik filled in briefly for former president Moshe Katsav when he suspended himself from office but she was not an elected acting president. She took the role because it was an added duty as Knesset Speaker. She liked it enough to want to run for president but desisted out of respect for Shimon Peres. Colette Avital who actually did run for president dropped out, also in deference to Peres. Last year, Miriam Peretz ran against President Isaac Herzog, who won by a landslide and is proving to be one of the most active and influential of all of Israel’s presidents. It’s possible that if she wants the job, the first woman president will be his wife, Michal, who participates in most of his activities. The two see themselves as a team and she is very popular in her own right. According to the law, the president serves only one seven-year term. Michal Herzog is doing a magnificent apprenticeship, and no one would be better prepared for the role, should she decide to run. But she still has a few years left in which to decide. And who knows? The law may be reversed to its previous state that was as a five-year term, with an option for a second five-year term, which was served by the president’s father Chaim Herzog who was Israel’s sixth president, and the last president to serve two full terms.

■ MASTERSCHOOL, A Tel Aviv-based network of tech-career training schools, with more than 100 team members in Tel Aviv, New York, Berlin, and London, has announced a $100 million seed funding round led by Group 11, with significant participation from Target Global, Pitango Ventures (Chemi Peres), Dynamic Loop Capital, Sir Ronald Cohen and other strategic investors.

The company, which was founded in 2019, by Eran Glicksman (CTO), Roi Tzikorel (Chief of Impact), Michael Shurp, and Otni Levi (Co-CEOs) who share a passion for education and its role in allowing people to realize their full potential, aims to build the largest network of career schools in the world.

There is presently a global shortage of available tech talent. There are a million unfilled IT jobs in the US alone, and significant labor shortages in other countries as well.

To address these paucities, Masterschool created a network of career-training schools for technology, with students paying for the courses only after they are hired in the field. Through the Masterschool network, tech creators and industry experts launch schools, teaching and mentoring promising students with a curriculum that prepares them for careers in the most in-demand fields. Since it was founded in 2019, graduates from dozens of Masterschool schools have been hired by some of the largest tech companies, including Google, Microsoft, and Intel, more than doubling their previous salaries on average.

Applicants for study must successfully pass an admission process that includes tests and assessments to select the most ambitious and motivated candidates. Researchers from Masterschool collaborate with researchers at leading institutions such as the European University Institute and MIT Sloan School of Management to continually review and improve the admission process to minimize bias and ensure diversity.

Successful applicants can join schools led by recognized experts and industry leaders.

The 6- to 9-month course features a team of educational professionals supporting a dynamic syllabus. Students then enter a Career Accelerator where mentors work with them on their soft skills, and job opportunities are presented and assessed.

“Masterschool’s mission is to ensure that anyone in the world can build an inspiring career,” said Shurp, co-founder and co-CEO of Masterschool. “After years of developing and building Masterschool without outside funding, we’re thrilled to bring on a wonderful group of investors who share our mission and believe in our team.”

Dovi Frances notes: “The traditional education model is broken, and Masterschool has built a proven and scalable business to rewrite this model,” said Frances, Founding Partner at Group 11. “Their growing network of schools empowers students to bypass the financial and operational inefficiencies of legacy education, while also allowing growing companies to address the massive talent shortages we see in the market today. We are proud to back the Masterschool team in this noble mission and truly believe Masterschool will ultimately become the world’s largest career-school network.”

Cohen makes the point: “Talent is everywhere but educational opportunity is not. Masterschool is turning the conventional education model on its head, by bringing to its students the opportunity to pay after completing their education and gaining employment.”

■ FORMER Consul in New York, Ido Aharoni, who is a professor at New York University, will be in Israel in June and will deliver a lecture to the Commercial and Industrial Club on Friday, June 10 at 10 a.m. at the Tel Aviv Hilton. He will speak about Israel’s international status and the complex realities of our times. The participation fee if NIS 200 for members and NIS 220 for nonmembers.

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