Grapevine February 3, 2023: Yet another miracle

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

 PRESIDENT ISAAC Herzog with Lea Gilad. (photo credit: BAR ELUSH)
PRESIDENT ISAAC Herzog with Lea Gilad.
(photo credit: BAR ELUSH)

Like a number of children of Holocaust survivors, Tzippora Raveh, a resident of Kiryat Yam, was born in Cyprus and spent the first few months of her life in an internment camp where her parents, Haya and David, who had also survived a death march, had been deported by British Mandate authorities. In the final analysis, the family entered the Port of Haifa on November 26, 1947, the day before the fateful United Nations General Assembly vote on the partition of Palestine.

Tzippora was one of 609 babies for whom Golda Meir had managed to obtain special permits. It was miraculous that her parents had survived the Holocaust. It was a miracle that she had been born, it was a miracle that she arrived in Haifa when she did and it was a miracle that a few years ago, she was successfully treated for breast cancer. Some 18 months ago, Tzippora was in need of yet another miracle.

Diagnosed with leukemia, she was in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant. Tests indicated that no one in her family was a suitable donor. At the Ezer Mezion national bone marrow bank, a suitable donor was found and he did not hesitate for a moment when told that he could save a life.

Donors and recipients do not always meet before and immediately after the transplant. In some cases, they never meet. It took a little while for Tzippora and her lifesaver, Ro’i Shulman, to get together. They met at Ezer Mezion’s Beit Oranit in Petah Tikva.

The date was very close to International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The coincidence was not lost on Tzippora. Their meeting at that time was yet another victory over the Nazis for her family. Although it was a big deal for Tzippora, Ro’i did not think that he had done anything out of the ordinary and said that he couldn’t understand why anyone would not agree to be a donor, if it meant saving a life. “Who could refuse?” he asked.

 TZIPPORA RAVEH with Ro’i Shulman. (credit: Ilan Shapira/Ezer Mizion) TZIPPORA RAVEH with Ro’i Shulman. (credit: Ilan Shapira/Ezer Mizion)

Dr. Bracha Zisser who heads the Ezer Merzion bone marrow bank said that Tzippora’s story “gives all of us the strength to continue to work towards saving the lives of more people.”


AFTER 33 years at the helm of the Dan Hotel chain, Michael Federmann decided to step down, though he will remain a member of the chain’s Board of Directors. He has been succeeded by his son Gidi, whose appointment was unanimously agreed on by the Board. Gidi Federmann is a third-generation member of the family in the hotel industry and has served on Dan’s Board of Directors for 11 years.

He comes to his new role as tourism begins to pick up in Israel. Tamir Kobrin, the general manager of the King David Hotel, the Jerusalem-based flagship hotel in the Dan chain, has been busy welcoming foreign dignitaries, including Nikos Dendias, the Foreign Minister of Greece, who met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, he greeted President of Chad Mahamat Deby, who came to Israel to open his country’s embassy.


WHEN A child has special needs due to mental or physical disabilities, the burden of coping is not that of the child alone but is also part of the daily existence of his or her family. At the age of four, Arik, the middle child of Lea Gilad, was diagnosed with a mental problem. This did not prevent him from attending a regular kindergarten and school or even from serving in the army. But he had an acute inferiority complex that affected his relationships with other people.

His mother dearly wanted him to find a soulmate who could understand him and love him enough to marry him. Two of Gilad’s childhood friends applied themselves to the task and realizing that there were other people like Arik, the trio decided to form a club 34 years ago, which they called Levav, a word taken from the Bible. meaning with a full heart, mind and soul. Through Levav, Arik did find a wife with whom he lived happily until he died, at the age of 60.

Levav was founded on the principle that everyone deserves to love and be loved. It caters to people aged 18 to 60 whose problems include shyness, feelings of inequality, an inferiority complex, insecurity, mild autism and more. When they get together in groups of less than twenty people and talk about their problems, they realize they are not alone and are able to form friendships.

Levav acts as a platform for both social interaction and occupational therapy, and each person is treated as an individual deserving of respect and affection.

Last month, Gilad, who at 92, is still active, accompanied by relatives and friends, visited the President’s Residence to tell President Isaac Herzog and his wife Michal about the history of the club and the wonders that it has achieved.

Noting that in its 75th anniversary year, Israel will pay tribute to the spirit of the pioneers, Herzog characterized Levav as a pioneering social enterprise that has grown considerably in Tel Aviv since it was first established and will soon have additional branches in other parts of the country.

He commended Gilad and her team for their initiative and their dedication to removing stigmas and narrowing social gaps.


SOMETIMES WHEN there are signs of an economic recession on the horizon, people console themselves with the luxuries most important to them. They go out to dinner, often in expensive restaurants, splurge on an item of clothing or jewelry and go abroad. Some who have never been on a sea cruise, grab what they think may be their last chance. Others prefer to fly to their holiday destinations, thinking that it will be a long time before they can do so again.

People in the tourist industry know that even if there is an economic recession, it won’t last forever, and as soon as they are able, people will start traveling again to distant destinations. One of the key marketing strategies when courting Jewish communities around the world is to offer kosher tours. Better still, if these also happen to be Jewish exploration tours, with visits to Jewish historical sites, Jewish cemeteries, current Jewish institutions, kosher restaurants and more.

Such tours also go over well in Israel, and participants often include highly secular Israelis who hardly ever enter a synagogue in Israel but make a point of attending Shabbat and Jewish holy day services abroad. The key destinations have been in Eastern Europe where before the Holocaust, there were thriving Jewish communities.

Today, the major thriving Jewish communities in Europe are in France, England and Germany. But there are plenty of other places in and outside Europe of Jewish interest. Jack Gottlieb, the founder and president of World Jewish Travel is an American businessman and philanthropist who spends much of his time in Israel. He will be hosting a press conference next week to introduce the travel media to places of Jewish interest in Turkey, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Georgia and India.

He calls these tours the Fifth Path and to explain some of the Jewish and other backgrounds to these places, he has invited diplomats and travel industry people from or familiar with the countries to talk about what they have to offer for visitors.

The event will take place at Expo Tel Aviv within the framework of the International Mediterranean Tourism Market (IMTM). In past years, IMTM has attracted professionals from all branches of business and services in the travel and tourism industries from Israel and abroad, and has proved to be a big hit with Israelis contemplating overseas travel.


THE AMERICAN Association for the Advancement of Science has added biomedical mathematician Prof. Zvia Agur to its list of Fellows. One of the largest associations of its kind in the world, the association serves more than 10 million scientists and scientific publications around the world.

Agur has been recognized for her remarkable work in the development of innovative software devices for oncology personalization. She is the founder and President of IMBM, a scientific research institute for medical biomathematics, focusing mainly on immunotherapy and cancer stem cell research. Agur is also a co-founder of the European and Israeli societies of Mathematical Biology.


AT THE University of Haifa, friends and colleagues have been celebrating the fact that for the first time, two of the university’s researchers in different fields have been awarded the prestigious European Research Council (ERC) Prize, which is under the auspices of the European Commission. It is not the first time that University of Haifa researchers have been among ERC awardees but it is the first time that there have been two at once. Tali Kristal, a professor of sociology, is one of the few women in Israel who has twice been awarded the ERC Prize. This time, it was for her research into wage inequality in the United States and Europe, and the factors to which this inequality can be attributed.

Dr. Emmanuelle Nantet, whose field is Maritime Civilizations, received her award for her research into ancient ports and maritime cultures during the Roman era.

Kristal’s research brought her 2 million euros (NIS 7.44 m.), while Nantet received 2.7 million euros (NIS 10 m.).