Grapevine: August 6, 2023: Human interest

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

 MINA KOZLANKO and Oksana Standik-Segel (respectively second and third left) flanked by Ten Kavod and United Hatzalah volunteers. (photo credit: COURTESY UNITED HATZALAH)
MINA KOZLANKO and Oksana Standik-Segel (respectively second and third left) flanked by Ten Kavod and United Hatzalah volunteers.

According to Jewish tradition, it is important to recognize the good in others. In line with this sentiment, it has to be acknowledged that of all the daily newspapers in Israel, Yediot Aharonot is at the forefront of publishing human interest stories. Two recent examples are the one authored by Itamar Eichner, who covers many fields, and the other by Israel Moskovich, who has a special knack for off-beat human interest stories.

Eichner’s story is about Dr. Idit Dayan, who is a volunteer at the Yad Vashem photo archives. One day as she was going through a file that had been donated by the family of Israel Lifshitz, and which dealt primarily with the exploits of the Jewish Brigade in Italy in the final stages of the Second World War, she came across a group photo of Jewish soldiers from pre-state Israel who had joined the British Army as members of the Jewish Brigade. One of the faces in the photograph was familiar to her. It was that of her grandfather Asher Goldring, whom she had never met, other than through photographs. The photo was taken in March 1945, just two months before the end of the war.

Goldring had not come home with other soldiers. He had remained in the field with an injured officer. The officer’s body was later found and identified, but Goldring had disappeared. It was thought that he had been captured and later killed by Nazi forces. He left a widow, Hana, a 12-year-old daughter Israela, (who is Dayan’s mother), and an infant son, Yoram. Digging deeper into the file, Dayan discovered that Israel Lifshitz had written to her grandmother, detailing Goldring’s disappearance, and expressing the hope that he might still be alive. Unfortunately, his fate still remains a mystery,

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Palestine Electric Company founded by Pinchas Rutenberg, which eventually became the Israel Electric Corporation. Rutenberg, who was already a qualified engineer in Russia at the turn of the century, had to flee for political reasons and went to Italy where he studied hydraulic engineering. Based on these studies, he invented a new method of constructing dams and exploiting water power to generate electricity.

Following his migration in 1919 to what was then Palestine, he began measuring water resources throughout the land with the idea of building a power station that would exploit the waters of the Jordan and Yarmouk rivers to generate electricity.

 View of the Yarmouk River which runs through Jordan, Syria and Israel.  (credit: Wikimedia Commons)
View of the Yarmouk River which runs through Jordan, Syria and Israel. (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

In 1921, the British Mandate authorities gave him the permit to build power stations. The first was built in Tel Aviv, and subsequent stations were built in Jaffa, Haifa, Tiberias, and Naharayim. Other stations were built in later years, and the one in Ashkelon was named after him and his brother.

For a long time, historians, museum curators, and, most of all, the people at the IEC were baffled by their inability to find the German-manufactured instrument used by Rutenberg to measure water resources. But according to Moskovich, it has now been found. In fact, for several decades, it had been exactly where it should be – in a safe in the IEC headquarters.

Impact on future olim

■ THE JEWISH AGENCY Chairman Doron Almog will be the guest speaker on Monday, August 7 at Tribe Tel Aviv’s Sunset Series, which is one of several organizations and programs for young immigrants from English-speaking countries that operate under a particular umbrella.

The objective in all cases is to make immigrants in the 20-40 age group conversant with what’s going on in the country – ideologically, politically, bilaterally, economically, culturally, and in terms of religious practice. The logic guiding these organizations is that the more that young people know about Israel, the more likely it is that they will feel at home, and the more likely they are to stay.

Though Almog, an Israel Prize laureate with a distinguished military career as well as a successful social entrepreneur on behalf of people with physical and mental disabilities, is well-known to a large proportion of the Israeli population, recent arrivals in the country might never have heard of him.

He will be speaking on “The Impact of Olim on the Future of Israel.” Immigrants, or olim as they’re known in Hebrew, have for the better part of two centuries made a profound impact on Israel’s development, and continue to do so.

The event, at Contento, 10 Eliezer Peri St., Carlton Beach Deck, Tel Aviv, (just behind the Carlton Hotel), is free of charge but registration is required at

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for happy-hour cocktails

Almog is scheduled to speak at 7:30 p.m., and his remarks will be followed by a Q&A session.

United Hatzalah

■ VERY OFTEN, we tend to place people and organizations in a particular framework in which they are stuck in our minds, even though they may engage in many activities of which we may or may not be aware. United Hatzalah is one such organization. Essentially recognized as a first responder in the case of a physical emergency, UH, among other things, also runs a project called “Ten Kavod,” which translates as Give Honor or Give Respect.

In the context of Ten Kavod, UH volunteers provide companionship for people who are housebound and sometimes make it possible for dreams to come true. A recent example is the case of 81-year-old Holocaust survivor Mina Kozlanko, who lives in Bnei Ayish, and has an illness that has kept her housebound for quite a long time.

Kozlanko has often told Oksana Standik-Segel, the Ten Kavod volunteer who has been visiting her for the past eight months, that she longs to see the sea. That dream was realized when Standik-Segel, together with other members of the program and volunteers from the Hevel Sorek branch, orchestrated a surprise and brought Kozlanko to one of the beaches in Ashdod.

The group traveled in an ambulance and provided continuous medical supervision for the duration of the excursion.

Kozlanko, who had not been on an outing since before the COVID-19 pandemic said, “You have not only taken care of my health all this time, but today I truly feel like I have been reborn. I am at a loss for words to thank you.”

Born in Moldova, Kozlanko moved to Russia with her family at the beginning of the Second World War. Then a small child, she lost her mother and brothers in the Holocaust and survived by living in an attic throughout the war.

Standik-Segel, who treats Kozlanko like an extension of her family, said: “Mina, like so many other senior citizens, has always been averse to feeling like she is a burden on others. Building a deeper connection beyond just medical check-ups took us time and effort. But as our bond grew stronger over time, she finally felt comfortable opening up to me. She shared her longing to see the sea, even though she hasn’t left her house in more than three years. Through our genuine relationship and the kindheartedness of the volunteers of the organization, we were able to make her dream come true.”

Ten Kavod, which was initiated by United Hatzalah, focuses on providing preventative health care and support to Holocaust survivors and other elderly individuals throughout Israel by having medically trained volunteers visit with a senior citizen at least once a week to provide them with a free medical check-up and to spend time with them to alleviate their loneliness.

Lauren Chedva Shatrit, the coordinator of Ten Kavod in the Hevel Sorek area, said: “Since we established the Ten Kavod project in the area, we have been able to support dozens of elderly people and Holocaust survivors every day. Our dedicated volunteers provide them with free medical check-ups and spend at least an hour a week with them. To many of them, our volunteers have become like a surrogate family and, as a result, their medical conditions have improved, and they no longer feel as lonely as before.

“In addition to our weekly support for the elderly citizens, we strive to create meaningful and memorable experiences for them,” explained United Hatzalah Head of Development Ariel Ben David. “Whenever possible, we arrange special outings, ensuring all logistics and medical support are well taken care of, allowing them to take a break from their routine.”

Escape to the country

■ A SENIOR citizen who is happily independent and travels all over on his own initiative, is prize-winning journalist Yitzhak Hildesheimer, 87 – and still working. Hildesheimer, who writes in Hebrew, but often reads in English, read in a recent Grapevine column about the pop-up community that lived in Letchworth, England, during, and for a few years after the Second World War. The item startled him because he had not known in advance about a book launch about Letchworth, and would most certainly have attended. It transpires that his grandparents who had migrated from Germany to England just before the war, were among those Jews who had moved to Letchworth in the hope of avoiding German bombs that were falling on London. They came to Israel in 1948 and joined other members of their family in Jerusalem.