Grapevine February 17, 2023: Help of a different kind

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

 JAPANESE AMBASSADOR Koichi Mizushima fastens the Order of the Rising Sun gold medal around the neck of Zeev Weiss.  (photo credit: Courtesy Embassy of Japan)
JAPANESE AMBASSADOR Koichi Mizushima fastens the Order of the Rising Sun gold medal around the neck of Zeev Weiss.
(photo credit: Courtesy Embassy of Japan)

Turkish Ambassador Sakir Ozkan Torunlar was among the people who attended the ceremony at Ben Gurion International Airport to welcome the return of the SAR team sent to Turkiye by the IDF on the first day of the earthquake in Kahramanmaras. Torunlar was there at the invitation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Turkish Embassy has opened a fund-raising campaign to help victims of the earthquake. Details of how funds may be transferred are on the Embassy’s Facebook page, where appreciation is also expressed for Israel’s search and rescue efforts.


IT IS sad when organizations or movements that are working in the same field or for identical causes have to compete with each other, such as for instance Magen David Adom and United Hatzalah (UH) or the various organizations that are dedicated to helping children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. If like-minded organizations and movements worked more in cooperation and less in competition, they could achieve much more.

Part of the problem lies in the fact that some of these organizations are established in memory of a deceased child and parents are reluctant to cooperate with other organizations lest the name and the memory of their loved one fade from the consciousness of donors and recipients.

With regard to UH, founder and president Eli Beer notes that Israeli authorities are not taking sufficient notice of earthquake warnings, to train volunteers in organizations such as UH, in exactly what to do in case of an earthquake. UH sent a 35-member team to Turkey, where the need for earthquake training became frighteningly obvious. In a radio interview with journalist Yaakov Eichler, Beer said that UH has thousands of volunteers from all strata of Israel’s population but that Israel, in general, needs more people to volunteer and work in public service positions, such as police and emergency medical situations.


FOR MORE than a century, Japan’s prestigious Order of the Rising Sun award, known as Kyokujitsu-sho in Japanese, was given only to Japanese nationals. Established in 1875 by Emperor Meiji, it recognized various meritorious achievements in different fields that were of benefit to the state and to humanity.

 Seho Uyan, who survived a deadly earthquake, but lost his four relatives, sits in front of a collapsed building in Adiyaman, Turkey February 11, 2023. (credit: REUTERS) Seho Uyan, who survived a deadly earthquake, but lost his four relatives, sits in front of a collapsed building in Adiyaman, Turkey February 11, 2023. (credit: REUTERS)

Featuring gold rays of light emanating from the rising sun, the design of the award symbolizes the energy of character required to be of distinguished service.

In 1981, qualifications for receipt of the order expanded to include non-Japanese who had rendered special service to Japan. Prior to 2003, it was awarded only to men, but now includes women. It is the third highest order conferred by the Emperor and the Japanese Government.

The Order of the Chrysanthemum, which is the highest order, is reserved for members of the royal family and the Order of the Paulownia flower is usually given to politicians.

Other than the above mentioned two orders, the Order of the Rising Sun is considered to be Japan’s highest.

Recipients have included Edmund Allenby, Dick Cheney, Helen Clark, Bill Gates, Douglas Macarthur, Nancy Pelosi and Condoleeza Rice amongst many others. However, Australia seems to be the most favored country, with the award being conferred on former prime ministers Tony Abbott, Edmund Barton, Malcolm Fraser, Julia Gillard, Bob Hawke, Robert Menzies and John Howard among other Australians.

Somewhat shamefully, it was also awarded to convicted Nazi war criminal Herman Goring but one has to remember that during the Second World War, Japan and Germany were on the same side, albeit Jews found temporary shelter in Japan.

The award has also been conferred on Israelis. Most recently on Adv. Zeev Weiss, president of the Israel-Japan Chamber of Commerce. The festive award ceremony took place at the residence of Japanese ambassador Koichi Mizushima, where Weiss was commended for advancing trade relations between Israel and Japan.

In his address, the ambassador recalled the difficulties faced in the late 1980s and early 1990s by Japanese companies that wanted to do business with Israel because they were under the threat of the Arab boycott. Mizushima credited the determination of Weiss to break through the boycott barrier by meeting Japanese business people and introducing them to the business opportunities that Israel had to offer. This led to the current fruitful trade and investment between the two countries.

At the end of 2022, Japanese investments in Israel stood at approximately $1.56 billion (NIS 5.3 b.). There is no doubt that Weiss is one of the key figures who enabled this achievement, said Mizushima.

In expressing his thanks, Weiss emphasized that Japan is one of the most economically powerful countries in the world. He had fallen in love with Japan at first sight, he said, and was sure that many others had done likewise.


FORMER JERUSALEM Post reporter and feature writer Joan Borsten, who lives in California, was back in Israel this past month to catch up with relatives and old friends, but primarily to promote the film about her late husband Oleg Vidov, who was a popular Russian film star who defected to the United States during the Communist era.

The film Oleg, which focuses on different facets of his life, including clips from his films, has been screened at numerous film festivals, has won many awards and in Israel can be seen on HOT’s Channel 8.


IN LAST Week’s Grapevine, mention was made of the documentary film about international human rights activist and former Canadian Minister of Justice Irwin Cotler, without noting where it will be screened. The Canadian Embassy advises that the film will be screened at the Jerusalem Cinematheque on Monday, February 20 at 6 p.m., in the presence of Cotler, who will also participate in a Q&A with David Horovitz, founder of the Times of Israel and former Editor in Chief of The Jerusalem Post.


APROPOS CANADA, retired presidents and judges of the Canadian Supreme Court, on Thursday, placed full-page advertisements in the Hebrew media warning that the proposed changes to the judicial system will weaken a democratic government, damage the rule of law, endanger judicial independence, harm the defense of human rights and reduce the international respect which Israel’s law institutions have won.

It doesn’t look good for Israel when leaders of other countries express similar thoughts to Israeli leaders, or when experts in economic affairs caution that foreign investors and Israeli entrepreneurs will transfer funds out of Israel. But now, to also have a judicial onslaught from abroad and not react is a march to political suicide.

As things stand now, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the most liberal person in the government. It remains to be seen whether he can withstand those who are not as liberal or as logical.


GERMANY’S MINISTER of Justice, Dr.Marco Buschmann, will attend the opening ceremony of The Rosenberg – The Federal Ministry of Justice in the Shadow of the Nazi Past, on Monday, February 20 in the Malka Brender Hall of the Buchmann Faculty of Law in the Trubowicz Building on the Tel Aviv University campus.

Rosenberg Castle in Bonn is where the Ministry’s offices were located after the Second World War. In 2012, the Ministry undertook a study of its responses in the 1950s and 1960s. Researchers were shocked to discover that a high percentage of the senior staff had backgrounds in the Nazi legal system and had participated in the horrors of the Nazi machine. The upshot was that Nazi war criminals were not properly prosecuted and many were not brought to justice for decades.

The German Justice Ministry, after four years of painful research and introspection, created a traveling exhibition known as the Rosenberg Files. The exhibition is a courageous, conscience-driven admission of the injustices perpetrated by the Ministry itself. The exhibition will be on view until May 14, 2023. At the opening ceremony, an introductory lecture will be given by Prof. Roni Stauber, the director of the Goldstein-Goren Diaspora Research Center.


WITH THOUSANDS of Jewish visitors expected in Poland in the coming months for the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the March of the Living, the official opening of the Warsaw Ghetto Museum, the Krakow Jewish Festival, the Bashevis Singer Festival and more, people in Poland’s tourist industry are waking up to the fact that there will be a much greater demand for kosher food than is usually the case.

There are kosher facilities in Poland but obviously not everywhere, and this poses a great challenge for tour organizers whose groups include religious Jews or those who observe the dietary laws, even if they may be lax on other religious issues. The truth is that one can eat kosher wherever there is Chabad but even though Chabad and other Orthodox rabbis are stationed in Poland, they’re not everywhere.

To provide some insights on tourism in Poland and where kosher food can be obtained, the Polish Institute in Tel Aviv will host an information session on Poland for the kosher tourist on Friday, March 3, at 10.30 a.m. Nurit Shapiro will provide tips on places that are of particular Jewish interest and Ilan Baum will provide details of supermarkets, restaurants and other outlets where kosher food is available. For initial information or to register, contact:


MENTION WAS made in Grapevine last week of a Zoom meeting on February 23 between noted author Jonathan Wilson and poet, editor and translator Karen Alkalay Gut. The link that was published was incorrect. The correct access to the link is