Grapevine September 18, 2022: Seeking a free trade agreement

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

 Samuel Willenberg, one of the leaders of the Treblinka revolt, signs sketches of one of his sculptures of scenes at Treblinka, 2014 (photo credit: Zachary Fagenson/Reuters)
Samuel Willenberg, one of the leaders of the Treblinka revolt, signs sketches of one of his sculptures of scenes at Treblinka, 2014
(photo credit: Zachary Fagenson/Reuters)

Costa Rica’s Minister for External Trade, Manuel Tovar, was in Israel this month to examine possibilities of expanding trade relations between his country and Israel. His itinerary included a meeting with executive members of the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, including vice president Amir Shani, fellow vice president chair of the International Committee Israela Shnir, and Roi Rosnik, a member of the Presidium.

Discussions centered on the importance of a bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Israel has signed a number of FTAs with Latin American countries. It was agreed that there is good potential for increased trade between Costa Rica and Israel, as each country has a diversity of products in which the other is interested. The signing of an FTA between the two countries would be a significant factor toward boosting two-way trade.

BRAZIL IS continuing with its bicentenary celebrations, and the Brazilian Embassy is inviting the public to the screening at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque on Wednesday, September 21 at 7 p.m. of Dear Ambassador, a film by Luiz Fernando Goulart (2018).

Based on true facts, and supported by testimonies and archival images, the film tells the story of Luiz de Souza Dantas, the Brazilian ambassador to France in World War II, who with the outbreak of the war, began to issue visas to Jews allowing them to flee to Brazil without authorization from his Foreign Ministry. This courageous and humanitarian act was in defiance of then President Getulio Vargas, who had secretly ordered Brazilian Embassies not to issue visas to Jews and other undesirables. The ambassador who ignored this order, was able to save Jews from certain death during the Holocaust.

The film is accompanied by Hebrew subtitles.

It is somewhat ironic that several Latin countries that provided a haven for Jews during the war also provided a haven for Nazi war criminals after the war

■ ARMENIA’S HEALTH Minister Anahit Avanesya visited Israel last week and took the opportunity to tour the national headquarters of Magen David Adom in Kiryat Ono. During the tour, she met with senior staff and was updated on MDA responses to both regular and emergency situations. She also heard about MDA’s activities during COVID-19, as well as its work in helping Ukrainian refugees. She was introduced to new technologies, and said that the emergency health system in Armenia is undergoing a number of changes and would do well to learn from the advanced methods at MDA.

■ TO KICK off its 50th anniversary celebrations Pardes had organized a large scale meeting with President Isaac Herzog that was due to take place on Monday, September 19, with live streaming to supporters in Israel and abroad. Unfortunately, that will not be happening because Herzog will be in London representing Israel at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth.

Due to the size of the event, the fact that it includes people who specially came to Israel for the anniversary festivities and taking into account the many other commitments of Herzog, it was impossible to reschedule.

Other than this, all plans for the year long 50th anniversary celebrations will continue as planned, with special Torah learning and a ceremony at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, where Natan Sharansky will be among the speakers.

On September 21, still within the context of the Pardes Jubilee, Shulie Mishkin will lead an Elul Tour to the renovated Heichal Shlomo Museum and Sharei Chessed, and will share many of the legendary stories associated with both.

■ DURING the COVID-19 pandemic, tour guides were complaining bitterly about the loss of work and income. But it seems as if they are making a splendid recovery. On the day before she leads the Parnes tour, Shulie Mishkin will be guiding members and friends of the Association of Americans and Canadians on a tour of Gush Etzion, which will include the Herodian excavation site, the Tekoa Art Center and a meeting with soldiers at the local drop-in center. The date is Tuesday, September 20. The bus leaves from the Inbal Hotel, Jerusalem at 8:30 a.m. The cost is NIS 210 for American and Canadians in Israel (AACI) members and NIS 240 for non-members. The anticipated return to Jerusalem is between 4 p.m. and 4.30 p.m. Participants are asked to bring a picnic lunch. For further details and registration, call Esti at 050-734-1133.

■ DESPITE THE Holocaust history disputes between the Polish and Israeli authorities, and Polish expatriates of the Jewish faith who are first or second-generation Holocaust survivors, Poland is doing a lot to commemorate Jewish life in Poland as it was before the war and also to commemorate historic events related to the Holocaust.

The most important of these will be next year with the opening of the Warsaw Ghetto Museum in tandem with the 80th anniversary commemoration of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. But before that, the City of Czestochowa, the holiest Catholic city in the world outside of the Vatican, is currently commemorating the 80th anniversary of the liquidation of the Czestochowa Ghetto.

The commemoration began last week with a photographic exhibition by Asia Sidorowicz at the May Street Art Gallery, which is not far from the Hasag Pelceri forced labor camp. The exhibition, which is titled Czestochowa Ghetto – Remembrance and Warning, will be on view until October 17.

On September 21, the family of Holocaust survivor, writer and translator Irit Amiel, will meet at the Juliusz Slowacki High School to listen to see a project on A Bridge to the World of Yesterday – Remembering Czestochowa Jews who lived in the city.

Amiel, who was born Irena Librowicz, was smuggled out of the ghetto with the help of Poles who provided her with false documents. She survived by hiding in a village near Warsaw. Her parents perished in Treblinka. In tandem with the project, Prof. Anita Jarzina of the University of Lodz, will present a lecture on the works of Irit Amiel, who died in February 2021, in Ramat Gan, three months before her 90th birthday.

On September 22, a memorial ceremony will be held at the Samuel Willenberg Square. Samuel Willenberg, who died in Udim near Netanya in February 2016, three days after his 93rd birthday, was one of the leaders of the Treblinka Revolt. An artist, he immortalized some of the victims of the Holocaust by sculpting their images. He also designed the Holocaust monument in Czestochowa.

On the same date, there will be a guided tour at the Museum of Jewish History of Czestochowa led by historian Wislaw Posckowski. There will be other events throughout the day.

In Israel, according to Alon Goldman, chairman of the Association of Czestochowa Jews and their Descendants, the commemoration will be held after the Tishrei holiday period.

■ MOST CANTORIAL singing is done by men, even though there is no shortage of women cantors in the Conservative and Reform movements. On Wednesday, September 21, The Jerusalem Kol Rina Choir of male and female singers, conducted by Jonathan Greenstein and accompanied by Daphne Coleman, will present a celebration of the English synagogue from the Victorian period onwards, with explanations before each of the songs, the melodies of which have been composed by Saqui, Mombach, Wasserzug, Alman, Lewandowski and others.

This musical journey through British Jewish musical history, was planned long before the demise of Queen Elizabeth and the ascent to the throne of King Charles but it comes at an extremely appropriate time and will be of particular interest to British expats living in Israel. Hopefully, it will be recorded for YouTube so that British Jews around the world can enjoy it and indulge in nostalgia. The venue is the Bet Bernstein Auditorium Level 3 at 6 Agron Street, near the corner of Keren Hayesod in Jerusalem. Starting time is 8 p.m.

■ TODAY’S SENIOR citizens cannot be compared with their grandparents, who by and large looked old and acted old by the time they were 50 and even younger. There were exceptions of course, but looking at photographs from the first half of the 20th century, people who would be considered middle-aged today appear to be much older.

Nowadays, although people are living longer, they are less susceptible to the trials and tribulations of aging people in their nineties can be seen strolling in the street and on promenades. Residents of retirement homes lead a very active social life, engage in sports, go dancing and often go abroad on their own or on group trips.

Where is it all leading? People in their 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s who are busy may not be interested. But those who live alone and have few if any activities outside their homes may be desperately in need of company and some kind of social life. It is for them, in particular, that YNET is running an online conference in Hebrew on Tuesday, September 20, with the participation of Meir Cohen, Minister for Social Services; Merav Cohen, Minister for Social Equality; Meir Spigler, the director general of the National Insurance Institute; Yariv Mann, head of the Senior Citizens Administration in the Ministry for Social Services; as well as various experts on the aging process and on how to remain young as one gets older.

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