Grapevine: Everybody loves a wedding

It's celebration time at the 'Post' as columnist Caroline Glick gets hitched and news editor Amir Mizroch gets a journalism award.

grapes 88 (photo credit: )
grapes 88
(photo credit: )
THE FACT that the dog made a mess all over the carpet, that the shower faucet came away in her hand, that she had to make arrangements with and for her immediate family who came from the US for her wedding, did not prevent Jerusalem Post columnist and deputy managing editor Caroline Glick from getting her material ready for publication as usual. A professional is, after all, a professional, come what may. Glick, looking stunningly sophisticated yet simultaneously demure in a classic wedding gown and an upswept hairstyle, last Wednesday married Jerusalem attorney Ephraim Katzir. The couple were introduced by Nadia Matar, who along with Glick's parents, sister, two brothers, their spouses and children, was one of the happiest people at the wedding. Matar, the guiding light of Women in Green, occasionally gets entangled with the law because of the determination with which she gives voice and action to those ideals and beliefs. As a result, her husband David, who was also at the wedding, sometimes has to look after the children. When Matar and other similarly minded activists are detained by the police, they usually call Honenu, a legal aid society that helps right wing detainees. On one particular occasion following her arrest, Matar contacted Honenu and it sent Katzir, who quickly arranged her release. Impressed, Matar, who has never hesitated to come forward, asked about his marital status and told him that she had the perfect woman for him. The rest, as they say, is history. The outdoor wedding ceremony took place at Beit Shmuel against the backdrop of the walls of Jerusalem's Old City. Among the guests were friends from different phases of the bride's life, including friends she has made along the way during her frequent lecture tours in the US and Canada. Also present were Likud leader and former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, his wife Sarah, and his father, Prof. Ben-Zion Netanyahu, former foreign and defense minister Moshe Arens and his wife Muriel, former government minister Uzi Landau, former ambassador to the UN Dore Gold, who is currently president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Yoram Ettinger, special projects chairman at the Ariel Center for Policy Research, Jerusalem Post Editor-in-Chief David Horovitz, Managing Editor >b>Steve Linde, Palestinian affairs writer Khaled Abu Toameh, columnist and features editor Ruthie Blum and IBA News Editor-in-Chief Steve Leibowitz. Of course, any occasion that features Glick must have political overtones, and her wedding day was no exception. Early in the day, Shimon Peres had been elected Israel's ninth president and Reuven Rivlin, his chief contender, had proved that a man's character shines through not only in his triumphs but also in his defeats. The election was naturally one of the hot subjects during the dinner conversations. But not all the political comments centered on Peres, Rivlin and Colette Avital, the third candidate in the presidential contest. When the groom's father rose to speak, he addressed himself to the former prime minister, saying: "Bibi, if you don't pick up the reins, the situation will deteriorate and we'll all be in trouble." Wedding or no wedding, Glick's column appeared in the Post as usual last Friday and on Tuesday. Now, though, there will be a short break, as the bride and groom are honeymooning in Portugal.
  • THE WEDDING was not the only cause for celebration among Jerusalem Post staff members, some of whom were present to witness news editor Amir Mizroch receive a certificate of merit at the prize-giving ceremony of the annual B'nai B'rith World Center Journalism Awards in memory of Wolf and Hilda Matsdorf. It isn't often that an honorary mention makes history, but this was the first time in the 15 years of these particular journalism awards that a prize was given for a web log [blog] and that adjudicators recognized blogging as a form of journalism. Mizroch wrote a series of articles in blog format while on a tour of Jewish communities in America with the United Jewish Communities last November. The series, entitled "Reporters on the Job: From the GA," documented Mizroch's impressions of Jewish life in America leading up to the annual General Assembly, which was held in Los Angeles. Generally speaking, the jury is still out on whether blogging can be defined as a new genre in journalism, given that so many bloggers have neither journalistic qualifications nor experience, which sometimes puts their accuracy and their ethics into question. However, in Mizroch's case, that problem does not exist. Born in Israel in 1975 and raised in South Africa, he returned here in 2000 and joined the Post in 2002, working initially as managing editor of the Internet edition, and moving into his present position in 2004. He had also worked as a journalist in South Africa after graduating in Journalism and Media Studies from Rhodes University, and in TV News and Documentary Film from the First Television School. Equally at home in the electronic and print media, he was a television news producer at Mail & Guardian Television in Johannesburg. His blog was conceived when contemplating the enormity of properly covering the General Assembly. The trip was arranged for him by UJC senior vice president and director-general of UJC Israel, Nachman Shai, who spent a large part of his own life as a journalist and who suggested to Mizroch that he write a reflective column. The idea of the blog came up in Mizroch's consultations with Horovitz and Linde. Horovitz, incidentally, won the Matsdorf Award for Journalism in 1995, when he was with The Jerusalem Report, for his coverage of the previous year's Buenos Aires community center bombing. For Mizroch, his encounter with American Jewry was a real eye-opener. Growing up in the extremely pro-Zionist and generally united Jewish community of South Africa, Mizroch was amazed to discover the frictions within the American Jewish community and some of the negative attitudes toward Israel and Israelis. He said he had learned a lot of positive things as well, and was grateful for the chance to come up close to the largest Jewish community in the world outside Israel, especially, he said, because it afforded him the opportunity to cover a beat "which is the lifeblood of The Jerusalem Post - the interconnecting relations between Israel and the Diaspora." What he loved about blogging, said Mizroch, was that it elicited instant responses in real time, and that he could incorporate some of that interaction in his next story, which made the respondents part of the creative process. Mizroch said he was delighted to receive a prize from the B'nai World Center, because his family had a long association with B'nai B'rith. In fact, he was wearing a B'nai B'rith pin that was given to his grandfather some 50 years ago. Mizroch's 96-year-old grandmother, Dr. Olga Mizroch, was sitting in the audience as he spoke. Later, she was approached by Alan Schneider, director of the B'nai B'rith World Center, who said of her grandson: "He's a good boy," to which she heartily agreed, adding: "I'm proud of him."
  • FIRST PRIZE in the contest was awarded to Avner Hofstein, 35, Yediot Aharonot's Los Angeles-based West Coast correspondent, for his series on "Jews of the Jungle," based on interviews with Jews of Moroccan background who settled in the jungles of the Amazon centuries ago; and also his interviews with Brazilians descended from Anusim (Jews forced to convert to Christianity during the time of the Spanish Inquisition), who came to Brazil in the 16th century. Hofstein reported that many of their descendants, who continue to practice Jewish customs, would like to rejoin the fold. He could not understand why at a period when Jewish spiritual leaders are bewailing the effects of assimilation and intermarriage, so many stumbling blocks are being put in the way of those who want to reclaim their Jewish heritage. A Life Achievement award was conferred on veteran Yediot Aharonot journalist Yeshayahou Ben-Porat, who came to Israel as a child refugee of the Holocaust, and made a brilliant career for himself as a political and defense correspondent, long-time foreign correspondent, radio and television broadcaster and author. One of his best-known books about the Entebbe rescue operation was written in collaboration with eminent fellow journalists Zeev Schiff of Haaretz and Eitan Haber of Yediot Aharonot. Ill-health prevented Ben-Porat from attending the ceremony to receive the award in person, so it was presented to his son, Ariel, in his stead.
  • FACES BEHIND some of the by-lines past and present in The Jerusalem Post were seen at the grand reunion at the magnificent Young Judaea Hostel in Jerusalem of people whose love for Israel and inspiration for aliya was honed at Young Judaea. Among them were Aryeh Dean Cohen, Ruth Eglash, Diana Lerner, Barbara Sofer, Eetta Prince-Gibson and Haim Shapiro. But the person who excited the most attention was someone who has often been written about in the Post, and whose name has occasionally appeared at the bottom of a letter to the editor. Not everyone was aware of her presence until Young Judea national director, Rabbi Ramie Arian, conducted a count-back of when and where people were involved with the movement. When he got to the 1920s, two hands went up. One belonged to Esther Rubin, 96, and the other to Zipporah Porath, whose father was responsible for Rubin's journey to Israel. That journey began almost 80 years ago when the still beautiful and articulate Rubin won an oratorical contest that took her from her home in New York, to Chicago and then to Pittsburgh for the finals. Her parents were not Zionists. For them, America was the goldena medina, and they couldn't understand why she was wasting her time on Zionism. They tried to dissuade her from entering the oratorical contest, the prize for which was a trip to Eretz Israel that was arranged by Porath's father. They didn't come to hear her compete in either New York or Chicago, and the young Esther had resigned herself to the fact that she would appear in the finals without any member of her family present. But then, as she stood on the stage in Pittsburgh and was just about to speak, she saw her parents come through the door. This encouraged her enormously and contributed to her triumph. That was way back in 1928. She was supposed to come to Eretz Israel for three months, but stayed for more than 75 years. Although her mother had warned her not to talk to strangers on the ship, the stranger that she did talk to was renowned artist Reuven Rubin, who married her not long after their arrival in the country. None of her family was present at the wedding because in those days people didn't travel to the other side of the world at a day's notice.
  • IT'S CUSTOMARY among Jews when farewelling each other after a happy event to say by way of blessing: Rak B'smachot (Only on joyous occasions). Jerusalemite Nathan Merel must have been blessed many times over. Over the past couple of weeks he's celebrated the barmitzvas of his great grandsons, Eitan Schreiber and Chaim Parnas, the barmitzva of his grandson, Motty Peleg, and the engagement of his granddaughter, Bracha Peleg. Just how many times can one say Mazeltov to the same person!
  • RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR Petr Stegniy and his wife Maragerita are desperately looking for a house. Not that they don't have a roof over their heads. Their predecessors, the Tarasovs, found a fine house in Herzliya Pituah to where they moved from Savyon because they didn't want to be isolated from the rest of the diplomatic community. Although the house served the Tarasovs well, it is too small for the needs of the Stegniys, who are seeking something bigger in Herzliya Pituah or Kfar Shmaryahu. They have already looked at more than 20 houses in the area and have still not found something to suit them. They're beginning to despair of ever finding exactly the right house. But they put house-hunting aside last week to host a marvelous Russian National Day reception on the eve of Israel's presidential elections. Even though he was facing a nerve-wracking day, Shimon Peres came to the reception, and it was initially thought that he would speak. In fact, it seemed so certain at one stage that one of the senior Russian diplomats tried to halt the singing of popular Russian tenor, Yevgeni Shapavalov, but was told that he couldn't stop him while he was singing "Adon Olam," because it is a prayer. However, once he reached the last note of the song, Shapavalov was given a broad hint to leave the stage and he was most unhappy - especially since Peres apparently changed his mind and decided not to speak after all, even though it had been announced that he would. After Peres left, Shapavalov returned to the stage and delighted the hundreds of guests, who actually stopped their chatter to listen to him. When Shapavalov decides to go full volume, it's hard for conversationalists to make themselves heard.
  • IT'S SAID that nothing starts on time in Israel except a funeral. Anyone who turned up beyond the announced starting time for the launch of Rabbi Berel Wein's latest book - Tending the Vineyard - The Life, Rewards and Vicissitudes of Being a Rabbi - discovered exactly what punctuality means. The event started on the dot, because Wein, a columnist for the Post, is a stickler for punctuality. Most of the people crowded into the foyer of Jerusalem's Great Synagogue were aware of the rabbi's trait and turned up on time. Introductory remarks were made by Rabbi Emmanuel Feldman, who was rabbi of Atlanta for almost 40 years before settling in Jerusalem. Feldman has often stood in for Wein when the latter could not accept invitations to various speaking engagements around the world. When Wein told him of an engagement on June 8, he did not anticipate that his journey would be no further than the Great Synagogue, he said. On the subject of traveling, Feldman recalled a story that Wein once shared with him. Wein had been traveling first class across America and studying Talmud while in flight. His companion in the next seat was engaged in working on his laptop. When he asked Wein what he was reading, Wein explained as much as he could about the Talmud in a nutshell and the other man told him something of what he was doing, then added how strange it was that two people with absolutely nothing in common were flying first class across America. To which Wein replied: "You're wrong. We do have something in common. Neither of us paid for our tickets." In more serious vein, Feldman praised the book as offering an insight into the difficult and sometimes heartbreaking work of an American community rabbi, saying "the book reminds us of what Jewish life is like in the Western world. A rabbi's life is not what it appears to be on the surface People are not aware of the physical and emotional turmoil that makes up the life of a rabbi." Wein, with his typical dry humor, declared that the basic ingredient for every rabbi is that he has to love the Jewish people, "but that becomes difficult when you have to deal with particular people who are not so lovable and don't inspire love."
  • BASTILLE DAY is still three weeks away but French Ambassador Jean Michel Casa already has cause for celebration this month. The French Institute, which is the bastion of French culture outside of France, has purchased a charming Bauhaus building on the Rothschild-Herzl intersection, which is about as symbolic as the French could get in Israel, considering who the Rothschilds are in French banking, wine and art circles, and the fact that Herzl, the visionary of the Jewish state, came to international attention when reporting on the Dreyfus trial in Paris. The house that now hosts the French Institute originally belonged to the Eliavson family, which was one of the 60 founding families of Tel Aviv, so the building is not only aesthetic but historic. The new/old premises will be officially opened this week with the launch of a diverse cultural festival culminating on June 28 when Tel Aviv will celebrate the fourth anniversary of its designation by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Its "white city" architecture - meaning the Bauhaus legacy of which the French Institute is a part - was at the time one of 24 new World Heritage sites.
  • WILL FORMER deputy defense minister Dalia Rabin take a third step beneath the bridal canopy? Rabin, 57, the daughter of late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, has been looking particularly radiant of late. Following her divorce from her second husband, attorney Avi Pelossof, whom she invited to the wedding of her daughter, Noa Ben Artzi, a few months back, Rabin took a little time out to contemplate. But then she met Miki Yerushalmi, who has moved into an apartment neighboring that of Rabin's late parents in Rav Ashi Street in Tel Aviv, and the romance began to blossom, even though Rabin denied that they were more than just friends. Yerushalmi is active in local and international film and theater circles in an executive capacity. Speculation notwithstanding, the romance remained under wraps until the recent wedding of Ram and Michal Sheves. The groom is the son of Shimon Sheves, who was the director general of the Prime Minister's Office under Yitzhak Rabin. Sheves remained close to the family after the assassination of Rabin, and shared both their joys and sorrows. It was only natural for him to invite Dalia Rabin to the wedding - and it was no less natural, it now appears, for her to invite Yerushalmi to be her beau for the occasion.