Grapevine December 4, 2022: The French connection

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

 ISRAELI-IRANIAN singer Liraz Charhi performs at the Tempel Synagogue in Krakow at the 31st Culture Festival this past summer.  (photo credit: Edyta Dufaj)
ISRAELI-IRANIAN singer Liraz Charhi performs at the Tempel Synagogue in Krakow at the 31st Culture Festival this past summer.
(photo credit: Edyta Dufaj)

The valuable work of United Hatzalah is recognized in many parts of the world, and the organization keeps gaining in support.

Last week in Paris, some 200 people came together at the Salons Hoche for the first ever French fund-raiser for the volunteer medical emergency service, and raised €450,000. Among those in attendance was Israel’s ambassador to France Yael German, who is a former health minister; and Israeli actress and singer Liraz Charhi, who achieved multi-national fame for her role in the highly acclaimed television series Tehran. 

Charhi, who moderated the event, said that she was honored to be part of it. “United Hatzalah has been accomplishing incredible work for a long time, based on a simple but brilliant idea: reducing response time in order to save as many lives as possible,” she said, expressing great admiration for the organization’s founder Eli Beer and the 6,200 volunteers of different faiths and backgrounds from all over Israel, who make this service possible.

Ambassador German said that it had been very important for her to be at the initial gala in Paris. “United Hatzalah is a special organization that saves lives every day in Israel. Thanks to its fleet of motorcycles, volunteers are able to arrive at the scene of emergencies in record time.”

Throughout the evening, those in attendance heard much about the work of United Hatzalah from Eli Beer himself and from the organization’s director of Friends in France Samuel Arrouas, as well as from several of the organization’s volunteers.

 Fire and Rescue, Magen David Adom and United Hatzalah paramedics are trying to evacuate the victims of a deadly crash in the Galilee when a bus collided with a van and car, killing at least five and injuring dozens. (credit: FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE) Fire and Rescue, Magen David Adom and United Hatzalah paramedics are trying to evacuate the victims of a deadly crash in the Galilee when a bus collided with a van and car, killing at least five and injuring dozens. (credit: FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE)

The money raised will go towards training of additional volunteers, and the purchase of additional motor cycles and medical equipment.

Beer was extremely appreciative of the reaction and support by French friends of Israel, while Arrouas was confident that the momentum that had been created that evening would make the French public major supporters of United Hatzalah.

PM Lapid met with Diaspora leaders

■ EVEN THOUGH it appears that his time as prime minister is extremely limited, Yair Lapid remains conscious of the importance of being available to Jewish organizations from the Diaspora.

Toward the end of November, he took time out to meet with a JNF UK Trustee delegation led by the fund’s chairman Samuel Hayek. The delegation began its four-day tour, starting out at the Western Wall in Jerusalem and later visiting new and long-existing projects in the Negev. It also approved commitments to new projects in the coming year.

When they met with Lapid, he thanked them for their dedication and British Jewry’s ongoing support for Israel. “Despite the threats against it, Israel has succeeded in building an innovative country and a society that embraces the weak. This happens with the help JNF UK, and the Jewish community in Britain provides to weak communities in Israel,” said Lapid.

To this, Hayek added: “The footprints of JNF UK are in every town and city in Israel.”

 Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Israeli president Isaac Herzog at a memorial service marking 27 years since the assasination of late Israeli Prime Minsiter Yitzhak Rabin, held at Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem on November 6, 2022. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90) Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Israeli president Isaac Herzog at a memorial service marking 27 years since the assasination of late Israeli Prime Minsiter Yitzhak Rabin, held at Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem on November 6, 2022. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

During the visit, a number of inauguration ceremonies were held for projects completed by JNF UK, including the opening of a special employment center in Yerucham for adults with disabilities; the opening of Yerucham’s promenade in honor of Israel’s seventh prime minister, Yitzhak Shamir and the opening of an extended and renovated Early Childhood Development Center in Kiryat Gat.

Prior to returning home, the group met with President Isaac Herzog who praised JNF UK for its contribution to the welfare of the country’s citizens, as well as being a source of inspiration to the world in environmental and social issues. 

“JNF UK is an incredible organization” he noted. 

During the meeting, Herzog pointed out a unique and special table once owned by the late Benjamin Disraeli, (twice British prime minister), symbolizing the connection of Israel with British Jewry. Donated to the President’s Residence by British-born brothers David and Jonathan Herman some 35 years ago, the table is used on official occasions by new ambassadors to Israel and visiting heads of state when they sign the presidential guest book.

Hayek related a famous story about Rabbi Jacob Koppel Goldblum, who was returning by train to England from the Fifth Zionist Congress in Basel in 1901, when he noticed the dirty shoes of a fellow delegate. He offered to polish them for a fee of two shillings from each delegate, which was the first fundraising exercise by JNF UK.

Interest in collaborations in India

■ FAUDA CREATORS Lior Raz and Avi Issacharoff are earning kudos for themselves and for Israel. The two were in Goa last month to attend the 53rd Indian International Film Festival, which included the Asian premiere of the fourth season of Fauda, which Netflix subscribers in Asia will be able to view from January 2023.

The two expressed interest in collaborating with Indian companies on multiple productions.

They said that they were looking for more international content that was not specifically Israeli or American.

 Avi Issacharoff and Lior Raz, creators of Fauda.  (credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN) Avi Issacharoff and Lior Raz, creators of Fauda. (credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)

The series’ creators believe that there is a lot of potential in India due to the size and diversity of the population, and while they already have a couple of co-productions in the works, they are ready for more. While India figures high in their priorities, they will not limit their Asian content to India, but are interested in stories from across the continent.

Music and politics

■ ISRAELI MUSICAL productions keep making their way to Morocco. As previously published, plans are afoot to take the Habima production of Kazablan to the North African country, but in the interim, the cast of Spanish Orchard landed in Morocco last week, with one minor mishap. The suitcase of actress Hani Nachmias went astray, but after an intense search, it was found. 

Both Kazablan and Spanish Orchard (Bustan Sepharadi) have strong connections with Morocco. The hero of Kazablan is Moroccan-born, and Yitzhak Navon, Israel’s fifth president, who wrote Spanish Orchard, though a multi-generational Jerusalemite, was descended on his mother’s side from renowned Moroccan kabbalists.

■ LIKE FATHER like son. Ari, the older son of singer Harel Skaat and outgoing Deputy Foreign Minister Idan Roll will join Skaat in recording his new song ‘To feel at Home.’ The two have been spending a lot of studio time together, and Dad is very excited about their joint project.

100 people who influenced Jewish life

JEWS, MUSLIMS, Christians and others who have influenced Jewish life over the past year, have been included in the 9th annual Algemeiner list of 100 influential people from different countries and diverse backgrounds. Among them is Gil Hoffman, The Jerusalem Post’s former chief political correspondent, who was appointed executive director of Honest Reporting in May. Hoffman says that he is deeply honored to be included in a list with so many amazing people. Some of the others are singer Pat Boone, playwright Tom Stoppard, publisher Ilan Greenfield, CEO of the International Legal Forum Arsen Ostrovsky, president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry Jillian Segal, US President Joe Biden and, among the Israelis, prime minister designate Benjamin Netanyahu, outgoing Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan, Yad Vashem chairman Dani Dayan, plus many others. Many of the people on the list attended the fast growing American Jewish publication’s 50th anniversary gala in New York last month.

Setting positive examples

■ TO CREATE greater awareness of the importance of adding quality to the lives of the terminally ill and seniors in the twilight of their years, Dr. Ben Corn and his wife Dvora, the founders of Life’s Door, launched a fund-raising and information campaign at Hangar 11 on the Port of Tel Aviv. The aim was to tell those members of the public struggling with the vicissitudes of illness and age, that there is a ray of hope in the darkness of despair.

Among those in attendance were Tmira Yardeni, Prof. Dan Arieli, Nir Lempert, Shmuel and Sharona Schnitzer, Sarah and Moti Teperberg, Menachem and Ruthi Oren, David Goldfarb, Prof. Nir Peled and Rabbi Benny Lau, who engaged in a one-on-one conversation with Corn. Their dialogue proved to be a harmonious meeting between the spiritual and the physical.

DVORA CORN with Rabbi Benny Lau. (credit: RICHARD SHAVEI-TZION)DVORA CORN with Rabbi Benny Lau. (credit: RICHARD SHAVEI-TZION)

■ LEADERSHIP CAN be defined by setting an example. This is what Rishon Lezion Mayor Raz Kinstlich did in cooperation with Ben & Jerry’s Israel within the framework of a campaign to increase blood donations for the Magen David Adom blood bank. Titled “Give Blood and get Ice Cream,” the nation-wide campaign is being conducted in universities, colleges, shopping malls and leisure time facilities with Ben & Jerry refrigerators placed alongside MDA’s distinctive yellow vans in which volunteers donate blood, after which they receive ice cream in a choice of flavors.

The MDA van in Rishon Lezion was parked at City Hall, and the mayor was the first to donate blood and receive an ice cream for his trouble.

■ LAST MONTH President Herzog awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor to his Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades. This month on December 11, he will present the award to five additional recipients in recognition of their individual contributions to the State of Israel. The five are Arab educator Dr. Dalia Fadila, poet Rachel Shapira, Pinchas Buchris, the former head of the IDF 8200 division in which both Herzog and his wife Michal served, Dr. Haim Perry, and American community leader Michael Segal.

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