Grapevine June 26, 2022: It takes a village

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

DELEGATIONS FROM 85 countries gather at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem for the opening ceremony of the 2017 Maccabiah Games (photo credit: REUTERS)
DELEGATIONS FROM 85 countries gather at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem for the opening ceremony of the 2017 Maccabiah Games
(photo credit: REUTERS)

Among the pioneer residents of Mevo Modi’in, better known as the Carlebach moshav, is Eliahu Gal-Or. In view of the rising population figures in Israel coupled with green energy policies, he wants to establish a new, cooperative eco-village in the Arava, and is looking for Jewish artists, bona fide hippies, creators, farmers, filmmakers, flyers, foodies, futurists, inventors, musicians, nature lovers, performers, scientists, theater folk, winemakers, autodidacts with no hangups about it, who want to join him in building a new community.

Gal-Or believes that the Arava region has the greatest potential for development. He thinks that together, creative and highly motivated people can create a better environment where they can raise their children in a self-sufficient learning, egalitarian, spiritual community, near an airport and a high-speed train line to Tel Aviv (now being built), and with access to the port of Eilat’s free trade zone.

He is convinced that such a pioneer group can claim land to build their own homes, with their own hands or each other’s, and sees the vision to build a new village in the Arava as a huge economic opportunity.

Because it will be a communal effort, he wants interested parties to tell him what they would like the community to be like, what they seek in such a project and what each can contribute to create it together. He is equally keen to know the values that people stand for, the bylaws they would want to introduce, and the things that matter most to them.

The idea is to create a harmonious community, with a holacratic system of corporate government that from its very beginnings will be free of friction. This will guarantee equal access to power and decisions for every member, and a meaningful role for each regardless of age and economic status.

 AN ISRAELI cyclist aims for Maccabiah glory. (credit: Joya Create) AN ISRAELI cyclist aims for Maccabiah glory. (credit: Joya Create)

All transactions will be fully transparent and no information will be withheld, hidden or denied, says Gal-Or.

Tools and resources for projects and seed capital for start-ups will be a right and not a favor; the village will be global, with the group connecting online until the land is acquired.

His own contribution is a new solar energy conversion technology, based on nano-optics, and he has planned a sophisticated economic model for its development.

Rather than live in caravans, as has been the case in many new communities in Judea and Samaria, Gal-Or suggests that once the land is granted, a hotel should be built, with a suite belonging to each member, to serve as a residence until permanent homes are built. The hotel will then be used for rental income and will include an educational campus, conference space and hospitality operations.

Anyone whose imagination is fired by the project should contact Eliahu Gal-Or, [email protected] or 972586272388 on WhatsApp.

Athens Discourse: A World in Transition

■ “ATHENS DISCOURSE: A World in Transition” is the name of a conference to be held on June 27-29 in cooperation with the Institute of International Relations (IDIS) at Panteion University, with partial funding from the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The conference is within the framework of The Israel-Hellenic Forum – established in 2019 by the B’nai B’rith World Center–Jerusalem to advance relations between academics, public intellectuals, journalists and leaders in Greece, Cyprus and Israel.

The global pandemic precluded the forum from convening again since its founding.

More than 40 leading Greek, Cypriot and Israeli figures will participate in the event this week, including (in order of appearance): Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikolaos “Nikos” Dendias; Member of Hellenic Parliament Professor Dimitris Keridis, the Greece-Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group Chairman; Nikos Christodoulides, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus; Israel Ambassador to Greece Yosef Amrani; B’nai B’rith CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin; Professor Kostas Ifantis, Scientific Director of the Centre for Foreign Policy Planning at the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror, who is a former Israeli National Security Advisor and Senior Fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security.

Sessions include, “Reviewing the Tripartite Relationship,” “Effects of the conflict in Ukraine on the Eastern Mediterranean Region” and “Regional Developments: The Abraham Accords, diplomatic forays and threat analysis.”

B’nai B’rith World Center Director Alan Schneider, who initiated the forum, said that the Athens Dialogue is set to break new ground in the interconnections between the intellectual leadership of the three countries and will support the deepening relationships between the governments and militaries of the three countries.

B’nai B’rith International, one of the oldest, ongoing Jewish organizations in the world, has advocated for global Jewry and championed the cause of human rights since 1843. Next year, it will celebrate its 180th anniversary.

Looking for Holocaust survivor relatives

■ NEARLY 80 years after the end of the Second World War, people are still looking for relatives. Alon Goldman, chairman of The Association of Czestochowa Jews in Israel and vice president of the World Society of Czestochowa Jews and their Descendants, is interested in locating descendants or other relatives of Michael Chaim Bratman son of Ephraim and Rizela (nee Loris) and his wife Chaja (nee Weinrajch) daughter of Yosef and Sarah (nee Schlesinger).

Michael was born in Praszka on October 18, 1880, and the couple married in Zarki on October 25, 1909.

The couple had at least two children, Ephraim, born in Praszka on November 18, 1910 and Yitzhak, born in Praszka on January 7, 1912.

Their last known place of residence in Czestochowa was Nowy Rynek 12 / Plac Daszynski 12

Ephraim was a forced laborer in the Czestochowa Hasag camp and appears on the list of survivors of the 1945 Jewish Congress.

At Yad Vashem, there is a page of testimony in memory of Bratman filed by Rachel Frajtag who lists her address as 14 May 1, Street, Holon, and states that she is the daughter of his wife’s brother.

Anyone who can help locate the descendants of Michael or his wife is asked to contact Goldman by email [email protected] 

Association for Israel Studies

■ THIS WEEK, more than 500 scholars from four continents will arrive in Israel to participate in the Association for Israel Studies’ (AIS) annual conference, taking place this year at Bar-Ilan University.

The AIS is an international scholarly society devoted to the academic and professional study of Israel. For the first time in three years, its annual meeting is taking place in person rather than online. Throughout three full days (June 27-29), the conference will offer more than 90 parallel and plenary sessions in multiple locations on campus focusing on almost every aspect of Israeli society, from architecture and art to modern ultra-Orthodoxy, and from women, diplomacy and politics to Zionism and Israel in American eyes. 

Scholars from Yale, Brown, Princeton, Northeastern, Brandeis, Johns Hopkins, McGill, Boston, Ohio State and Concordia universities, the London School of Economics and Political Science, Suffolk University, the University of Delaware, University of Notre Dame, University College Dublin and more will deliver lectures, as will researchers from many Israeli universities and colleges. 

“As is well-known, the academic freedom to run impartial study of Israeli society, history, politics, law and culture is under threat. Bar-Ilan University, an emerging center of dynamic, diverse and effervescent academia in central Israel, is proud to bring together international scholars who run cutting-edge studies of Israel,” says Prof. Hizky Shoham of BIU’s Program for Hermeneutics and Cultural Studies. 

Shoham is co-chairing the conference with Prof. Lilach Rosenberg, Chair of the Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology. Shoham will moderate a mini-plenary on “Israel and the Diasporas – Towards a Symmetry?” Rosenberg will chair panels on “Teaching Israel and Israeli Teaching” and “Mothers and Fathers: Old Age in the Yishuv in the 1920s-1950s.”

Dr. Itzik Pass, coordinator of the Finkler Institute of Holocaust Research and administrative director of the conference, will focus on “Canaanism,” an anti-religious movement that preached against religious coercion in Israel, and was accused of the assassination attempt of the religious transportation minister David-Zvi Pinkas, in protest of regulations he amended to prevent cars from traveling on the Sabbath. Pass will present the radicalization of the movement until its dissolution.

Included among additional conference highlights are: 

Prof. Judy Baumel-Schwartz, of the Koschitzky Department of Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry and director of the Finkler Institute of Holocaust Research, who will examine the lives and deaths of female Holocaust survivors who died while on active duty during the first decade of Israeli statehood by analyzing the degree to which their experiences in Israel reflected their background as Holocaust survivors, the ways in which they differed from other young immigrant women of their age in Israeli society, and the extent to which they remained “foreigners,” even after spending over a third of their lives in Israel.

Prof. Jonathan Rynhold, Chairman of the Department of Political Studies and Senior Research Associate at BIU’s Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies, who will assess the current state of, and future prospects for, the relationship between the United States and Israel by analyzing the three components that comprise the relationship: shared strategic interests, the resonance of Israel in American political culture and the influence of the pro-Israel lobby.

Dr. Gal Yavetz, of the Department of Information Science, will present the findings of his study with Prof. Jenny Bronstein, chairwoman of the department, examining how social media was used in five major Israeli cities when more than 4,000 rockets were fired at them during the Guardian of the Walls operation in May 2021.

Prof. Eytan Gilboa, of the School of Communication, will present a case study of the social interactions between young, post-military service Israeli backpackers with the village people of north India’s region of Himachal Pradesh and discuss how Israeli backpacking diplomacy has contributed to create favorable public opinion in India toward Israel, which is essential for supportive official policy.

Prof. Motti Neiger, also of the School of Communication, will speak about the use of the term “their collaborators,” taken from the phrase “the Nazis and their collaborators,” which Israelis use in various contexts on websites and social media regarding diverse issues and topics, many of which have nothing to do with the Holocaust and its commemoration, and how this expression creates polarization and division.

Maccabiah Games donations

■ CHANGING TIMES introduce new activities. While it’s common for competing sports teams to exchange their shirts after the game, and even to give shirts to fans, they don’t donate them to charitable causes. But athletes and other participants in this year’s Maccabiah Games will donate clothes and team-branded sports clothes to new immigrants and refugees, as part of official cooperation with Pitchon-Lev, a national, apolitical, not-for-profit, humanitarian organization that works to break the cycle of poverty in Israel.

More than 10,000 athletes and officials participating in the Maccabiah Games received an official letter from Maccabiah organizers and Pitchon-Lev, asking them to bring the clothes with them to Israel, for distribution in Pitchon-Lev’s aid and welfare centers across the country. They will be distributed to the needy, including refugees from Ukraine and new immigrants coming to Israel from Ukraine, Ethiopia and elsewhere, as well as other sectors of the population that receive aid from the organization.

In addition, the Maccabiah will this year adopt the ice hockey special tradition whereby fans are asked to bring with them small furry toys and to throw them onto the ice rink after the first goal is scored.

This event is planned to take place at the final ice hockey game at the Jerusalem Arena Stadium on July 23. All the toys that are thrown onto the arena will be collected and donated to Pitchon-Lev, to distribute to children from underprivileged families

“Pitchon-Lev is proud to take a central part in the largest Jewish sporting gathering in the world,” said CEO Eli Cohen. “It is moving to think about thousands of Jewish athletes from around the world who are implementing the Jewish value of caring for the needy.”

Maccabiah CEO Roy Hessing said: “We are glad to undertake this important initiative of Pitchon-Lev and to involve athletes from around the world. This is a very moving and human initiative and I hope that together, we will be able to help many families by providing high-quality sports clothing.”

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