Part of the Jewish liturgy that has been removed from services in Reform congregations and in some Conservative congregations is giving thanks to the Almighty for not having created the (male) worshiper as a woman. In feminist circles, this is regarded as derogatory, and yet another means of degrading women. In more Orthodox circles, the explanation sometimes given is that women have a better pain threshold than men and can therefore bear the pangs of childbirth, which a man would not be able to endure. Either way, many modern women, from Orthodox to Reform and everything in between, are grateful for having been born women, and some of them, including well-known celebrities, came together this month, to celebrate the inauguration of She’asani Isha (That I was created a woman). The inauguration was hosted at the Savyon home of Ruthy Leviev Yelizarov (daughter of billionaire Lev Leviev), a couples consultant, and Bracha Shilat, a social and educational entrepreneur. The two women were the initiators of the new organization, which has already had a successful run-in period.
Among the many women who came were Michal Ansky, Yael Bar Zohar, Sivan Rahav Meir, Jenny Chervoney and many other figures. The concept is to have a place where every woman from every walk of life and of every background can come to seek advice, to ask questions and to learn on matters of couples, femininity, sex and other subjects in the spirit of Jewish tradition, in which females are actually acknowledged, as women of valor.
Political suicide for Gideon Sa'ar?
■ IT’S HARD to tell whether Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar has committed political suicide or whether he’s a good poker player. Even his rivals admit that when he was a member of Likud, he proved to be an excellent parliamentarian. But there’s a difference between being a good legislator and an unpopular politician. When Sa’ar challenged Benjamin Netanyahu for the Likud leadership, he lost out big time. Then when he formed his New Hope Party, he exuded confidence that his party would receive a large number of Knesset seats. The result was that it didn’t even score a double digit. Polls taken in advance of an anticipated fall of government, indicate that the next time around, Sa’ar’s party will not pass the threshold. So the question arises: what does he have up his sleeve?
Out of the frying pan and into the limelight
■ CELEBRITY CHEF Assaf Granit has added another string to his bow and has temporarily traded in his kitchen whites in order to model luxury brand casual and formal luxury brands that are available at the Factory 54 chain stores. Granit can be seen in the Factory 54 catalogue and on billboards in the sartorial splendor of Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Balenciaga, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi and other high-quality manufacturers. If the suit jacket looks a little too tight for him in the photographs – it isn’t. That’s part of the new trend, and it also applies to female attire, which can be seen on nightly television news broadcasts in which female presenters are wearing jackets that seem to buckle just above the waistline. It’s deliberate. Some fashion trends defy explanation, such as wearing ugly shoes or sneakers with elaborate evening gowns.
Elvis never dies
■ EVEN THOUGH he died 45 years ago, the voice of Elvis Presley continues to be heard with increasing frequency on the airwaves. Part of the reason is the upcoming Israeli premiere of the movie Elvis. One of his greatest hits, “It’s Now or Never,” is also the title of a weekly radio show on Reshet Bet. Yona Bartal, the president of the Commercial & Industrial Club, has managed to arrange a morning screening of Elvis at Cinema City Glilot on Friday, June 24. Cost of the event, replete with breakfast, is NIS 150 per person.
Putting on a show for Putin
■ ONE OF the most memorable occasions on which the Gesher Theater, which is headquartered in Jaffa, came to Jerusalem, was to perform at the President’s Residence in the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who genuinely appreciated the fact that Russian-speaking actors and singers were putting on a special show for him. They will be back at the President’s Residence on Monday, June 27, for a memorial event to honor the life and work of their founder, the brilliant theater director, playwright, scriptwriter and set designer Yevgeny Aryeh, who died in January while in New York. This time they will perform, at least partially, in Hebrew.
Changing of the guard
■ MULTIFACETED BUSINESSMAN and longtime Honorary Consul for New Zealand Gad Propper, who is also the dean and chairman of the Consular Corps in Israel, has handed the honorary consul baton to Ami Orkaby, a corporate lawyer, business entrepreneur and venture capitalist. Orkaby is no stranger to the diplomatic community. For several years now, he has also been the honorary consul of Mongolia and South Korea. It is somewhat easier for honorary consuls when there is an embassy in their country. But New Zealand’s ambassador is resident in Turkey, and comes to Israel from time to time. Propper’s duties for more than two decades have been both consular and ambassadorial.
Several Israeli newspapers, including The Jerusalem Post, publish annual supplements featuring the most influential Israelis, or the most influential Jews. Decisions as to who should be included in such supplements is often based on the amount of media coverage they get. After all, if a person regularly appears in the press and on television, he or she must be influential. But there are many others who sit in the background, but whose influence is widely felt, if not necessarily publicized. Gad Propper is one such person. In addition to his diverse business interests, he also sits on the boards or boards of governors of Tel Aviv University, the World Federation of Consuls, Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the Manufacturers Association of Israel, the Federation of Bi-National Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Israel-EU Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Israel-Britain Chamber of Commerce.
There is another long list of organizations and institutions on which he previously served in an executive capacity. Yet his name is seldom in the media with the exception of anything related to Osem or L’Oréal Israel. Among the awards that he has received are the Order of the British Empire (OBE), the French Legion of Honor, Officer of New Zealand Merit and Fellow of Shenkar College. All the above testify to his influence – a walking case of still waters run deep.
■ TODAY, SUNDAY June 12, the Masorti/Conservative Jewish movement, represented by Masorti Olami, the Schechter Institutes and the Cantors Assembly, is hosting a unification program called Mivtza Ukraine (Operation Ukraine): A Program of Music, Inspiration and Hope, with one purpose: to help the people of Ukraine. The program begins at 7 a.m. Los Angeles time, 10 a.m. in New York, 3 p.m. in London and 5 p.m. in Jerusalem and Kyiv.
Masorti Olami and the Schechter Institutes have been responding to the needs of Ukrainian communities including providing care packages to children in Kharkiv, securing shelter and medical supplies for those in need, and organizing transport and accommodation for those fleeing their homes. To date, these organizations have helped hundreds of individuals and families evacuate to safety, thanks to the help of movement-wide fundraising efforts and other Jewish organizations, including UJA, JDC and IsraAid.
Efrat's mayor goes international
■ ANYONE LOOKING for Efrat Mayor Oded Revivi this week will find him in Washington, or elsewhere in the US. Revivi is scheduled to speak at a luncheon co-hosted by the Jewish Policy Center and EMET on Monday, June 13.
As an advocate for Israeli-Palestinian coexistence, Revivi, who has been in office since 2008, will discuss his “bottom-up” approach, nurturing and deepening Efrat’s relationships with neighboring Palestinian villages. He will bring new solutions to the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis and will discuss how the Abraham Accords helped change the trajectory of relations.
Revivi’s speech will also be broadcast via Zoom Webinar. A recording will be posted to the JPC website after the live event.
An Italian honor
■ BAR-ILAN University Prof. Gilbert Daniel Nessim has been named “Cavaliere” of the Order of the Star of Italy. The award, one of Italy’s highest civilian honors, was presented to him by Italian Ambassador Sergio Barbanti on behalf of the president of Italy. It is in recognition of “his remarkable contribution to the development of scientific and technological innovation and for his significant role in promoting academic cooperation between Italy and Israel.”
Nessim is an associate professor in Bar-Ilan University’s Chemistry Department and the Bar-Ilan Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials (BINA).
In making the presentation to Nessim, Barbanti said Nessim stands out for his scientific caliber in the field of synthesis of new nanomaterials and that he has dedicated himself to the development of a network of collaborations with Italian universities and research partners in this field. “A man of multifaceted culture and profound humanity, Gilbert Nessim does his utmost to create high-level scientific exchange relations between Italy and Israel,” said the ambassador.
Nessim responded that his goal is to promote further collaboration in the future. “This is a great honor that rewards the many research collaborations we have established with Italian universities,” he said. “I consider this an encouragement to do more and better in the future. In general, research collaborations between Israel and Italy are very successful thanks to the extreme level of creativity, inventiveness, and entrepreneurship of the researchers in both countries.”