Grapevine April 9, 2023: Here come the brides

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

 SHAI ABRAMSON, in his days as IDF chief cantor. (photo credit: MARK NEYMAN/GPO)
SHAI ABRAMSON, in his days as IDF chief cantor.
(photo credit: MARK NEYMAN/GPO)

A hospital is not exactly the right venue for a wedding, but when there is a particularly strong bond between a bride and her very sick mother, there is no other choice.

A wedding is almost always an emotional event, but the wedding that took place recently at Rambam Medical Center was particularly emotional; there was not a dry eye among those who witnessed it. Maor Cherny, 32, had for months been planning her wedding to Nisan Yehezkel. It was to be a fairytale affair – the realization of a dream.

But two months ago, the bride’s mother was hospitalized with a life-threatening illness. From time to time there appeared to be an improvement in her condition, but then she would suffer a relapse.

Fearful that her mother might not live to see the wedding, Maor and her fiancé decided to bring it forward, so that her mother could participate.

Within a day of making that decision, a bridal canopy had been set up alongside the mother’s bed in the intensive care ward, Rabbi David Abuhazeira had agreed to perform the wedding ceremony, and the bride and groom, surrounded by a small group of relatives, friends and medical staff, walked into the sound of Yuval Dayan singing “Just Smile.”

As she prepared to step under the canopy, the bride turned to her mother and blessed her to be fully restored to health, so that she would stand beside her when there is an encore to the wedding in the summer.

After the ceremony, the groom displayed the marriage contract so that his new mother-in-law could see it and derive pleasure from it.

■ IN 2013, Titi Aynaw made history as the first member of Israel’s Ethiopian community to be crowned Miss Israel. In this capacity, she met US president Barack Obama and Israel president Shimon Peres at a gala state dinner at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem. Since then, she has built up a successful career as a fashion model, has become the mother of a five-month-old son Dorian, and last Sunday, the statuesque and beautiful Aynaw married the father of her baby – businessman Tzachi Frenkel. The marriage ceremony was conducted by former chief rabbi Yona Metzger.

■ THERE IS definitely life after the Knesset. Former minister and MK Yuval Steinitz, who was an academic before standing for election, has returned to his first love. He is a little nostalgic about his participation in government meetings, because he liked being asked to state his opinion and feels that he still has something to contribute, but the truth is that he much prefers teaching at Reichman University.

■ SOME PROFESSIONAL entertainers tend to lose their charm and their talent as they grow older. Others are even better as senior citizens than they were when they were younger. Case in point is the Zehu Ze! team of actors, comedians, singers and dancers, who after almost half a century of entertaining television viewers – initially on Educational Television, and currently on KAN 11 – are at this point in their lives, taking to the stage. Not that they haven’t been stage performers in the past. They all have, but individually, not as a quintet. But on August 3, Gidi Gov, Shlomo Bar-Aba, Moni Moshonov, Dov “Dovaleh” Glickman and Avi Kushnir will appear together at the amphitheater in Caesarea, performing some of their best skits and songs, and will do so again two nights later. An additional performance is being planned for August 24 at the Sultan’s Pool in Jerusalem.

When they reunited during the COVID-19 lockdown, they never anticipated the success that they have enjoyed. After all, the world supposedly belongs to the young. But then again, anyone with enduring talent knows that age doesn’t matter. It’s not only people of their own generation who love the Zehu Ze! quintet. They are no less popular with teenagers as they radically change appearance and character with the help of wigs, costumes and makeup.

 ‘ZEHU ZE!’ actors (from left) Dov ‘Dovaleh’ Glickman, Moni Moshonov and Avi Kushnir in 1997. (credit: EINAT ANKER/GPO) ‘ZEHU ZE!’ actors (from left) Dov ‘Dovaleh’ Glickman, Moni Moshonov and Avi Kushnir in 1997. (credit: EINAT ANKER/GPO)

■ A PASSOVER concert in aid of Soroka Medical Center will be held on Monday, April 10, at the Charles Bronfman Auditorium (Heichal Hatarbut) in Tel Aviv.

Gracing the stage will be Netanel Hershtik, the cantor at Hampton Synagogue in the US, and Shai Abramson, representative cantor for the State of Israel.

The Raanana Symphonette will be conducted by the very personable Ofir Sobol.

The concert is intended mainly for American tourists, and tickets are priced in US dollars ranging from $40 to $140.

There will be a special VIP reception for purchasers of the most expensive tickets.

Hershtik is a 14th-generation cantor who also sings opera and has performed at some of the most prestigious opera houses in the world and at the United Nations. His talent was already evident when he was a young child, singing together with his father, cantor Naftali Hershtik, at the Jerusalem Great Synagogue, where he often sang solo as well. He feels deeply connected to Soroka, as during his service in the IDF, he served as a medic in the Negev.

Abramson, who was chief cantor in the army during his IDF service, has enchanted audiences with his repertoire of Hebrew, English and Yiddish songs.

Sobol is known for his engaging and dynamic presence on stage.

The concert will be a mix of cantorial, classical and Israeli songs as well as contemporary pieces.

Abuse by male partners

■ IN THE weeks before Ramadan and Passover, more women fell victim to the cruelty of their husbands or male companions. Many more are physically attacked every day of the week. Some report such incidents to the police, but see very little action in response. Even those who do turn to the police are reluctant to file charges, which will put their assailants behind bars. Sadly, some of these women become statistics in the countdown of murdered women in any given period. Constant assault, whether verbal or physical, is a traumatic experience, especially when the purpose of the assailant is not just to hurt, but to kill. 

That was the case some two years ago with Shira Isakov, whose husband, Aviad Moshe, tried to kill her by stabbing her 20 times, hitting her on the head with a rolling pin and trying to throttle her – all in front of their 18-month-old son. Miraculously, Isakov survived. Many people were involved in her physical and emotional rehabilitation, not the least of them Motty Reif, the founding director of Tel Aviv Fashion Week, who last year put her on stage in an elegant gown and with a bunch of professional fashion models, thus helping to restore her self-confidence. 

Now free of her husband who was convicted, Isakov, who is a great believer in romance, has a new man in her life – Arie Mariash, with whom she has been keeping company for several months.

Most women in her position would never trust a man again. But Isakov is not only resilient, but sufficiently intelligent to know that she should not be judging all men in relation to the shocking experience that almost snuffed out her life. Having been spared, she is embracing life to the full.

■ TALKS BETWEEN the coalition and the opposition, are scheduled to continue immediately after Passover, but probably not before the Mimouna celebrations are over.

Meanwhile, some of the MKs on both sides are continuing to insult each other on social media and in radio and television interviews. There’s a polite way of disagreeing, but it seems to have eluded certain Israeli politicians. Maybe they should take a leaf out of the books of US Ambassador Tom Nides, and his immediate predecessor, David Friedman, who are on distinctly different sides of the political aisle. Nides is a Democrat, and Friedman is a Republican. Nides does not want to see any more settlements on the West Bank; Friedman has the opposite view. 

But the two are joining forces as leaders in the March of the Living on Holocaust Remembrance Day, and are putting their political viewpoints aside. This year’s March of the Living is particularly important, because it coincides with the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, with the sobering realization that within a very short time, there will be no survivors left to tell the story of the Warsaw Ghetto.

In a joint statement, the two ambassadors wrote: “It is an indescribable honor to lead the inaugural Bipartisan Diplomatic Delegation representing the United States at the 2023 March of the Living. This is a time to reflect on what unites us as Jewish people and as human beings. The March is an indelible reminder that humanity defeated antisemitism, bigotry and intolerance before, and that united, we can defeat all of those hatreds again.”

■ NEXT MONTH, his many fans in Israel will flock to the concerts of singer-guitarist Gaston Ghrenassia.

Never heard of him?

Probably not by his real name, but he’s very well known in Israel by his stage name, Enrico Macias. He has been to Israel many times, and in May will undertake a Shalom Israel tour to celebrate his 60 years on the stage.

Now 84 years old, he shows no signs of letting up. His concert tour will take him to Kiryat Motzkin, Emek Hama’ayanot, Beersheba, Beit Shemesh and Jerusalem.

The tour begins on May 28, with the concluding concert on June 6. Given the date, it’s understandable that Macias chose to wind up his tour in Jerusalem.

Born in Algeria, his talent for music is hereditary. His father was a violinist in an Andalusian orchestra. Although he sang and played the guitar from an early age, Macias did not plan on making music a career. He started out as a school teacher, but after the outbreak of the Algerian War of Independence, which lasted from 1954 to 1962, Algeria was not a safe place for Jews or for any Europeans for that matter. For many Algerians including Macias and his wife, France seemed to be the best option.

In order to put food on the table, he became a troubadour, made his first recording in 1962, and never looked back.

He left Algeria in July 1961. Despite his fame, he has never been allowed to return, not even for a brief visit.