Grapevine: A new Israela

British Jewish cooking tips, the return of the Kolleks, and the Porush family tradition.

grapes 88 (photo credit: )
grapes 88
(photo credit: )
SOUTH AFRICAN Ambassador Fumanekile Gqiba and his wife Vuyiswa were recently blessed with their third child, a sabra, who even if she loses her birth certificate and passport will never be able to forget where she was born. They've named her Israela. "We had no choice," said her proud father. n IT MAY not work for everyone, but many people have discovered that there is life after retirement, and that it can often be rewarding. Ruth and Yitz Greenwald, well known in British Olim circles, used to manage Tack - Training Consultancy. Following their retirement a few years back, Yitz became an enthusiastic amateur cook. Recently one of the Greenwalds' dinner guests was Oshrit Yamin, who happens to be in public relations and who was aware that celebrity chef Israel Aharoni was in the process of putting together a new television series based on Jewish food from different countries. Having sampled Yitz Greenwald's culinary fare on several occasions, Yamin suggested that he would make a good candidate for the show, and could present cuisine eaten by British Jews. The outcome was that after being interviewed and videotaped several weeks ago, Greenwald passed the audition and last Thursday spent four hours at the Herzliya Studios while the episode in which he was participating was captured on camera. The 30-40 minute show moves along without any glitches and viewers who don't read the credits would never realize how many people are involved in lighting, cameras, make-up and other preparations to create that smooth effect. At Aharoni's request, Greenwald brought along one of his fish pies, together with boiled and fried fish balls which his wife had made that morning. According to the Greenwalds, the frying of fish in oil was introduced in England during the 17th century by Sephardi Jews. The program began with Aharoni preparing a fish pie under Greenwald's direction, after which Greenwald helped Aharoni to make fish and chips. The session ended with a glorious English trifle produced by Aharoni. Ruth Greenwald, who had never been in a television studio before, was fascinated to see what goes on behind the scenes, especially when it came to simultaneously watching the live action and the monitors. She was delighted with Aharoni's professionalism and his delicious sense of humor. He and Greenwald had an instant rapport and got along very well. Aharoni, who is quite slim these days, used to have a much fuller figure and Greenwald asked him how he had managed to shed so much weight. Aharoni said that he works out for an hour in the gym every day and had managed to lose 30 kilos. Greenwald said that he had been somewhat concerned about the trimmed down Aharoni because there was a sign in the Greenwald kitchen that stated: 'You can't trust a skinny cook." Truth was, however, that the Greenwalds had brought it with them. Aharoni thought that this was a great hoot and asked Greenwald to bring it out on the show. He was so taken with it that he asked if he could keep it - and naturally the Greenwalds said that he could. n THERE IS no denying that President Shimon Peres has become somewhat more aware of his Judaism, as distinct from merely being Jewish, since assuming the presidency. One of his first functions was to complete the writing of a Torah scroll, and since then he has been involved in similar events in Israel and abroad and he has participated in other religious activities. He has also revived the Bible Study group at Beit Hanassi. So it hardly comes as a surprise that he decided this year not to celebrate his 85th birthday on August 2, which is the actual date (though it was previously listed as August 16), but to wait until August 21, which coincides with the 20/21 of Av depending on the time of day that he was born. Of course that makes him nearly three weeks younger, but as so many of his guests have often commented, as far as having his finger on the pulse is concerned, he's usually the youngest person in the room. n GUEST SPEAKER at the Israel, Britain and the Commonwealth Association luncheon last week was Jerusalem Post editor-in-chief David Horovitz who felt very much at home with an audience that largely consisted of British expats. It meant that he could talk the English that he'd been brought up to speak rather than American English, which is the style of the Jerusalem Post. Many of the American-born staff members of the Post, he said, don't know what he's talking about when he uses such typically British expressions as "a spanner in the works." Horovitz, who last spoke to IBCA 10 years ago, was happy to meet childhood friends of his mother as well as one of his former teachers from London's Jews' Free School. Horovitz, who had been asked to speak about elections here and there, said that experience had shown the foolishness of trying to predict the results of forthcoming votes in Israel and the US. As for Israel and its present woes, Horovitz pointed out that by relative standards "things are great" in areas such as security and the economy, although he stressed the use of that word "relative" and said that the momentum in the region is profoundly discouraging. When analyzing Israel, he went on, we have a certain tendency for self-flagellation and sometimes underappreciate how much has been achieved here these past 60 years. Alluding to the corruption that has permeated the political arena, Horovitz said it was misleading to make comparisons between the leaders of today and the icons of yesteryear, "both because we did not scrutinize them then the way we do today" and "because we've raised our standards." Still, he said, when Israelis consider the propriety and the expertise of our public figures, there is a great deal of cause for concern. n IT HAD become an annual tradition for journalist Eric Silver and his wife Bridget to give this columnist a ride back to Jerusalem from the residence of the British Ambassador following the celebration of the Queen's birthday. They didn't follow through this year because they were abroad. Then Eric fell ill and was subsequently diagnosed with the aggressive cancer that took his life only a few weeks later. Although he was given large editorial obituaries in both The Jerusalem Post and Ha'aretz on the day of his funeral, not everyone who would have wanted to pay their last respects found out in sufficient time to get there by mid-morning, nor did they necessarily find time to pay a condolence call on the family. But many did get in touch with Bridget Silver, not only to express their sorrow but to ask for sufficient advance warning so that they would not miss the consecration of the tombstone at Har Hamenuhot in Givat Shaul. Many of those had been guests at one time or another in the Silver house, and after having enjoyed the famed Silver hospitality, felt that the least they could do was to honor Eric Silver on his final journey, or if not that, to attend the tombstone ceremony. For all those who wanted to know, it will take place at 11.45 a.m. on Friday, August 15. Those attending will meet on the path at the side of the Har Tamir Funeral Parlor (Beit Hahesped) at 11.30 a.m. n GUESTS INVITED to join Jerusalem businesswoman and well-known socialite Michal Isaacs in celebrating her birthday in her spacious penthouse apartment in Ramat Motza were asked to refrain from bringing gifts, but to make a contribution to Kav Or, an organization that takes care of the educational needs of hospitalized youngsters. The event was billed as a Greek Love Story, and indeed it was, with Grecophile Shimon Parnas telling stories related to Greek love songs that were sung with great feeling by Aliza Aviv, accompanied by leading bazouki player Haim Romano, who has been accompanying Yehuda Poliker for 20 years. The three performed on the patio, which is on a slightly higher level than the back garden and therefore forms a natural stage. Aviv, who has a captivating singing style, had most people singing along with her in Greek, Hebrew and Ladino - and nearly everyone was familiar with the lyrics, which added extra sparkle to the evening. Guests were having such a good time that they were reluctant to leave after the entertainment was over and spent more than an hour shmoozing on the huge front balcony from which there is a breathtaking panoramic view of the area surrounding the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway. Among those present were Yair and Dassi Stern, Arye and Ruth Mekel, Avi and Ravital Balashnikov, Zvi and Sheila Raviv, Bilha Piamenta, Yehuda Raveh, Etya Simcha, Nir Barkat, and Ilan and Tzipi Roman. n OSTENSIBLY, THE gathering - which to at least one of the invitees looked like a Likud convention of old - was convened to celebrate the circumcision of the grandson of Ex-Police Commander Ya'akov Raz, appointed a month ago by Finance Minister Roni Bar-On and Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz to serve as the chairman of Ashdod Port. But while all those present had come to welcome the infant into the faith, the event turned into a campaign meeting for Mofaz. It seemed that most of the one-time Likudniks had changed their stripes and were putting their weight behind Mofaz in the upcoming Kadima primaries. Raz 58, after a 31-year career in the police force, in 2007 became a member of the Board of Directors of the Ashtrom Group Ltd., one of Israel's leading construction corporations, whose projects include bridges, junctions, highways, seaports, railways, et al, making his current position a natural progression. n IT IS interesting that Mofaz, a former defense minister who is also a former Chief of General Staff, should have announced November 11 as the date by which he plans to have a new government. Admittedly, his calculations are related to the municipal elections taking place all over the country, but the date has more important connotations in contemporary history. It is the 90th anniversary of the Armistice Agreement between Germany and the Allies under which the First World War officially stopped on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. As dates go, that's not quite as impressive as the opening date of the Beijing Olympics: the 8th hour (in the evening) of the 8th day of the 8th month of the 8th year (of the second millennium). n UNLESS THE secular community turns out en masse to vote, Meir Porush, the haredi candidate replacing Uri Lupolianski, will likely be the next mayor of Jerusalem. He is no stranger to City Hall, having previously served as deputy mayor before following his father Menachem Porush (now 92 and still active), who had also been a deputy mayor, into the Knesset. Both father and son served as deputy ministers with all the powers and perks available to ministers, simply because Agudat Yisrael has a regulation against its people serving as full ministers. Meir Porush was the third generation member of his family to serve on the Jerusalem City Council, though it doesn't look at this stage as if any of his 12 children will follow in that family tradition. n TEMPORARILY BACK in Jerusalem to shoot part of a documentary film, Vered Kollek, who lives in California with her husband, international broadcasting executive Farrell Meisel, has been through a worldwind of reunions, bumping into old friends in coffee shops, restaurants and social gatherings. Not realizing that she is already aware of the fact, many have told her that her cousin, filmmaker Amos Kollek has announced his intention to run for mayor in the 2013 elections and have suggested that she does the same. The idea of bringing the Kollek name back to City Hall, where Amos' father, the late Teddy Kollek held sway for more than quarter of century, tickled Vered Kollek's fancy, to the extent that she could already envisage the headlines: Kollek versus Kollek. n RADIO FM 99, which belongs to Arkady Gaydamak, has a phone-in astrology program hosted by Rinat Harari. According to Yediot Aharonot, a recent caller, identifying himself as Yossi, said he'd been born on March 20, 1978 and wanted to know what was in store for him in the months ahead, especially with regard to his career and his family. Harari told him that he was going through a somewhat turbulent process that would run its course in November, and promised that if he was patient, his career would take a forward leap at that time. She told him that he would have to work very hard until November, but if he persevered, he would reach his goal. Yossi acknowledged that November was indeed a critical month for him. Taking her cue, Harari assured him that although he was in a strong position, he should be careful in the months ahead. "But will things work out in the final analysis?" persisted Yossi. Harari reiterated that he had great things coming to him, and said that even though people would try to unsettle him, he would overcome all obstacles. The Yossi in question happened to be Yossi Milstein, who is Gaydamak's right hand man. Gaydamak, who has announced his candidature for mayor of Jerusalem in November's vote, has had a spot of trouble lately. Some of his business ventures have gone awry. Bank Hapoalim Tefahot is demanding the instant return of a multi-million shekel debt. The Israeli police have opened new investigations into his activities and the French police want to extradite him. How much of this will have an effect on his election campaign, no one can tell. But November is the end of the ball game - and it's not all that far away. n THE ISRAEL Supreme Court, which was established in Jerusalem by the British Mandatory Authorities in 1918, celebrated its 90th anniversary last week. The event was organized by Yad Ben Zvi in consultation with the Supreme Court, and while the invitation list included judges past and present, YBZ officials and journalists who cover legal affairs, justice ministers past and present were omitted from the guest list, which explains why current Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann did not attend. n VETERAN COMEDIENNE, actress, singer, dancer, anchor, moderator and panelist Rivka Michaeli was honored last week by the Israel Television Academy with a lifetime achievement award. In accepting, Michaeli raised a laugh when she said that her parents had not allowed her to watch television or use a cell phone. They were hardly in a position to give or deny permission. Cell phones are a comparatively recent innovation in Israel and television is this year celebrating its 40th anniversary here. Michaeli, whose mother used to work at The Palestine Post, which later became The Jerusalem Post, turned 70 in April. n THOSE OF us who are old enough were raised on the adage that the camera never lies. Perhaps not. It might just be the few seconds difference between photographing the same people at the same event that changes the focus of the story. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu last Thursday attended the annual memorial service for Revisionist leader Zeev Jabotinsky. Photographs of the event on Mount Herzl were prominently displayed in daily newspapers on Friday. The Post published a photo of a smiling Olmert shaking hands with Bibi. Yediot and Maariv chose a photograph of the two sitting down, stern faced and looking in opposite directions with an empty chair between them. The photograph in Ha'aretz showed that Olmert had vacated his chair in deference to President Peres and had moved next to Bibi. This last photograph showed all three men standing alongside each other with Olmert during the singing of the Betar anthem, "The Jordan has two banks - this is ours and that as well," which was written by Jabotinsky. Olmert who spent much of his youth in Betar, but who has since changed his political orientation, had not forgotten the words, and sang them with gusto. n IT DOESN'T come as a surprise when athletes win medals awarded in a specific contest two, three and four years in a row, or when entertainers consistently win popularity polls and prizes. But in academia, where the competition is much broader, it is relatively unusual for anyone to receive medals over three consecutive years in the same contest. One of the exceptions to the rule is Professor Moshe Sipper, associate professor in the department of Computer Science at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, who has won his third consecutive HUMIE (Human Competitive Results produced by Genetic and evolutionary Computation). Together with his student Assaf Glezer, Sipper recently received a bronze award to add to the silver and bronze awards he had won previously.