Grapevine November 13, 2022: ‘Kazablan’ in Morocco?

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

 RUTH MONICKA PARASOL with Prof. Ronni Gamzu, director of Ichilov Hospital (photo credit: Courtesy Friends Association of Sourasky Medical Center)
RUTH MONICKA PARASOL with Prof. Ronni Gamzu, director of Ichilov Hospital
(photo credit: Courtesy Friends Association of Sourasky Medical Center)

It’s almost like taking coals to Newcastle. The most recent production of the classic Israeli musical Kazablan, which was first performed in September 1954, may be going to Morocco.

The current Habima production starring Itay Levi in the title role, may soon be playing to audiences in the Moroccan capital. Habimah director Noam Semel flew to Morocco last week to try to make arrangements for the show to go on tour in Rabat.

The charismatic Kazablan is a Moroccan-born gang leader in Jaffa who falls in love with an Ashkenazi girl.The best-known production is the 1973 film version starring Yehoram Gaon, who in those days really looked the part of the swaggering young Moroccan.

Happily, Jerusalem-born Gaon, who will turn 83 next month, is still performing, and still in high demand.

■ ANOTHER VETERAN performer who continues to appear on stages around the country is Shalom Hanoch, 76, who is widely recognized as the father of Israeli rock and modern Israeli music in general.

Hanoch was one of nine honorees who last week within the context of the 74th annual meeting of the International Board of the Weizmann Institute of Science, were awarded honorary PhDs in recognition of their extraordinary contribution to society.

The other recipients were: Dr. Jessica Meir, a comparative physiologist and NASA astronaut, born and raised in Maine to an Israeli father and a Swedish-born mother; Israeli gold medal swimmer Keren Leibovitch, one of Israel’s greatest Paralympians, and a three-time world swimming champion; businessman, influential American community leader, member of the Weizmann Institute’s International Board Harvey Knell and his wife, Dr. Ellen Knell, a geneticist who specializes in cancer-risk assessment and genetic testing; professor emerita Nancy Hopkins, who has made significant contributions to research of basic molecular biology, the genetics of cancer viruses and the genetics of early vertebrate development; Sandor (Sandy) Frankel, a practicing attorney, award-winning author, a major promoter of public health and a trustee of the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust through which he has made significant contributions to Israeli causes; Nobel Prize laureate Prof. Steven Chu, whose groundbreaking research has given impetus to the ongoing renaissance in atomic physics and quantum optics research; and Weizmann Institute International Board Member Gary M. Abramson, a leading real-estate entrepreneur and a longtime pillar of the Washington, DC Jewish community, who is a pioneer of sustainable building practices in the United States.

With the exception of Hanoch and Leibovitch, all the honorees are American.

In lauding the honorees, Weizmann Institute President Prof. Alon Chen said each had expanded the limits of the possible.

Fighting antisemitism on American university campuses

■ JEWISH STUDENTS and various Jewish organizations are not alone in fighting antisemitism on American university campuses.

Antisemitism on campus and Israeli education were among the issues addressed at this year’s second annual RISE conference of alumni of Passage Israel trips. More than a hundred people from across the US and Israel came together in Dallas, Texas, this month to “re-encounter Israel” and to boost their own faith.

The Americans were all Christian college students who have become allies of Jewish organizations on campuses around the country.

According to a 2021 ADL-Hillel International survey on campus antisemitism, one in three Jewish college students experiences personal antisemitism.

The ADL’s annual campus report cited 350 anti-Israel incidents that were reported on college campuses across the United States during the 2021-2022 academic year.

No campus has been immune from antisemitic vandalism: swastikas painted on dormitories, mezuzot ripped from doorways, holiday decorations and sukkot damaged and torn down, and flyers equating Birthright trips with genocide.

At the Dallas get-together, Christian students spoke of what they had tried to do to quell the situation.“The last year has seen a rise in antisemitic activity in the US, particularly on college campuses, where this type of hatred is unfortunately prevalent,” said Serene Hudson, vice president of Israel Engagement.

RISE not only provided education for individual advocacy but also a vital community that gives students courage and strengthens allyship with Jewish campus partners, Hudson explained. “Support online for Jewish friends and confronting antisemitism when it appears – in our churches or among our family and friends – rather than only joining mass campaigns against celebrities in the public eye,” she emphasized.

Advocacy is not limited to joining demonstrations, speaking out, or writing essays or letters to the editors of publications. It can also be expressed through the arts as both Jewish and non-Jewish exponents of various art forms explained.

Similar in some respects to the Birthright programs for Jewish college and university students, Passage Israel offers Christian college students with leadership potential and a fresh and innovative approach to experiencing the Holy Land.

Participants encounter the roots of their biblical faith and come face to face with the modern-day miracle of Israel. They then have the opportunity to build on their Israel experiences, and, with additional training, become informed voices for Israel, as well as for their Christian faith.

■ WITH INCREASING medical research, medical organizations around the world are all but begging women to undergo regular examinations for possible breast cancer, which, if detected in the early stages, can be treated successfully, and be non-fatal.

But as is well known, even in the most highly developed Western countries, it is often impossible to get an instant appointment at a hospital or a health clinic, and the waiting period can sometimes take months.

The Parasol Foundation Women’s Breast Cancer Center

In an effort to partially amend this situation, American philanthropist lawyer and businesswoman Ruth Monicka Parasol, who is among the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, with a portfolio in excess of $1 billion, decided to open a breast cancer center in Tel Aviv, and has donated £3.5 million from the Parasol Foundation Trust for the purpose of creating a multi-disciplinary center for the comprehensive treatment of women with breast cancer.

The new facility is to be known as The Parasol Foundation Women’s Breast Cancer Center for Diagnosis, Research and Treatment.

The opening at Tel Aviv’s Sourasky Medical Center at Ichilov Hospital is planned for 2024. The Parasol Center will be a one-stop facility dealing with diagnosis, pathology, surgery, cytology, oncology and X-rays. In addition, psychologists and social workers will be on hand to counsel those women in need of psychological and emotional support.

Keren Marenbakh Lamin and Noa Keren will lead the research, which will be aided by Parasol Foundation research scholarships that will be awarded to 20 outstanding female physicians researching breast and ovarian cancer.

The Parasol Foundation Trust is the philanthropic division of Parasol International through which Ruth Parasol and her family help to create opportunities for women to pursue their dreams, and inspire the next generation to follow in their footsteps.

The trust was established in Gibraltar in 2004, and since then, it has given donations totaling more than £35,000,000 for health, heritage and education grants in Gibraltar, the UK, Israel, India, the US, Spain and elsewhere.

With this recent donation, Ruth Parasol is confident that thousands of Israeli women will be helped to receive the best treatment possible – and that most will recover.

Concert celebrating the rediscovery of the lost music of the Nazi era

■ EVER SINCE the end of the Second World War, relatives and friends of victims of the Holocaust – Jewish and non-Jewish – have been searching for any possible legacies they have left – diaries, paintings, drawings, musical compositions, figurines and more.

Much has been found – often unexpectedly and sometimes in the most unexpected places. People who thought that they might not survive the war were innovative in hiding treasures that they did not want the Nazis to find.

Music by Jewish composers is included in what has been found, but people involved in searching for hidden compositions are convinced that there is much more and that whatever is discovered should be played so that the spirit of the composer can be revived again and again, even though the composer himself or herself was sent to the gas chambers.

In August of this year, a concert celebrating the rediscovery of the lost music of the Nazi era, was performed in Jerusalem.

It was initiated by Yaakov Fisher, who also founded the nonprofit association "the Spectacular World of Jewish Music," which aims to bring Jewish music in all its genres to the stage. Fisher is particularly hooked on music that was lost in the Nazi era, and which could in some cases be works of genius.

He has called this project Into the Light, in contrast to the dark period in which the music was composed. Into the Light, he says, combines Holocaust commemoration with the promotion of music that was lost to the world for so many years, and that following its discovery, deserves to be heard.

He is planning concerts outside of Israel, but before then, a concert at the ANU Museum in Tel Aviv, on February 28, 2023; a gala concert with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in May; an Into the Light event at the Annual Conference of the US Association of Holocaust Organizations, in Dallas, Texas; in June, a concert at Yad Vashem at a date to be announced; a Hungarian composers’ event with the emphasis on works by Hungarian Jewish composers who were murdered or exiled by the Nazis; and a Czech music event in which the works of four Czech Jewish composers incarcerated in Theresienstadt and subsequently murdered, will be performed.

In nearly every instance, the orchestra or the venue will have some kind of relationship with the Holocaust.

Fisher is not a lone wolf and is working in close cooperation with international experts in Jewish music and people engaged in finding and performing lost music. Stay tuned.

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