Grapevine: Hope springs eternal, says Aviv Geffen

MotoMusic contest aims to encourage young groups of musicians to reach for the stars.

HOPE SPRINGS eternal, according to rock star, song writer, composer and instrumentalist Aviv Geffen, who was the artistic consultant and entertainer-in-residence for the third annual MotoMusic contest organized by Motorola. The contest, held over a series of months at high schools around the country is designed to encourage young groups of musicians to reach for the stars. The contestants were ranked in popularity by thousands of students. Those groups that scored the highest points competed in the semi-finals at the Zappa Club in Tel Aviv where Hertzel Arbiv, head of Motorola's cellphone division, congratulated all the contestants. Geffen told them that from his point of view, every competing group represented the continuity of Israeli music. When he was their age, he said, he also participated in talent contests, "and I always came last, so there's still hope for those who don't win. There's always hope - and I'm a prime example."
  • THE $64-million question with relation to next week's Israel Independence Day festivities is: "Who will preside over events taking place at Beit Hanassi?" President Moshe Katsav's suspension period expires on Monday, and unless he requests an extension, it is possible that he, and not Acting President Dalia Itzik, will host receptions for past and present IDF commanders as well as current and former heads of the defense establishment, outstanding soldiers and the diplomatic corps. He might also participate in the Israel Prize ceremony at the end of the day. Katsav will apparently not make his decision known until almost the last moment, and since this may be his last opportunity to perform presidential duties, he may very well take it, regardless of how embarrassing his presence may be to others.
  • AT A recent event at Beit Hanassi, veteran photographers Isaac Harari and Israel Noy were swapping reminiscences about various presidents with Menashe Levran, the conductor of the police band. Harari recalled that he had been sent by a newspaper to cover the historic visit to Beit Hanassi by Egyptian president Anwar Sadat. He had been instructed to focus on Sadat more than on president Ephraim Katzir. So he kept his zoom lens trained on Sadat the whole time, and just when he had an excellent shot in the frame, someone walked in front of the camera. Harari instinctively pushed the offender out of the way. The other photographers around him began to laugh. When he asked what was so funny they told him that the person he'd just pushed aside was president Katzir. Although the photographs of Sadat had great historic significance, Harari has fonder memories of a photograph he took of Nina Katzir, the wife of the president, who was known to thumb her nose at protocol, much to the delight of the media. Tired, once, from standing at a reception in her high heeled shoes, she took them off and held them in her hand. Harari has the proof on film.
  • WHEN HE embarks on his 3,300-mile "Bike Ride America for Hadassah" in June this year, Rodney Sanders - the affable manager of the Inbal Hotel, Jerusalem - will have more than one Hadassah in mind. Although the aim is to raise funds for Hadassah Medical Center, the ride is in memory of his wife Hadassah (Dassie), who died late last year from pancreatic cancer. Dassie Sanders was treated at Hadassah and remained hopeful until the end. In her memory, and in appreciation for the treatment she received, Sanders hopes to raise $100,000 for pancreatic cancer research at Hadassah Medical center in Jerusalem. Beginning June 25, he will ride from Seattle to Washington DC, and hopes to sign up sponsors at the rate of $25 per mile. The 40-person, 48-day ride across America which Sanders is joining is organized by the American Lung Association of Washington. By special arrangement, all proceeds from his personal ride will be earmarked for the new Hadassah Sanders Fund for Pancreatic Cancer Research. A smart, stylish woman with a warm smile, a charming manner and a clipped South African accent, Dassie Sanders loved the outdoors and was an expert gardener. "That's why I thought of the bike ride in Dassie's memory," says Rodney. "This combination of sports, open pastures and philanthropy would have appealed to her enormously!" Sponsors can underwrite all or parts of Sander's ride by sending a check payable to "Hadassah Ride" to the Hadassah Women's Zionist Organization, 50 West 58 St., New York, NY 10019, or to Hadassah, 8 Harav Kook St., Jerusalem 94226. Additional information on "Ride America for Hadassah" is available at, where Sanders will post a daily blog once the ride begins. This will enable sponsors to track his progress and to share in his experiences.
  • IT IS becoming increasingly trendy for people of affluence to celebrate their birthdays with substantial gifts to educational or medical institutions. Architect David Azrieli celebrated his 85th birthday with a $1-million gift to the Technion. Scitex Founder and hi-tech entrepreneurial genius Effi Arazi celebrated his 70th birthday by inaugurating the new building for the Effi Arazi School for Computer Science at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. In addition, he has established a scholarship for excellence in computer sciences in memory of astronaut Ilan Ramon. The Effi Arazi School was founded 11 years ago, but now has a permanent home in which there is a permanent exhibition reflecting Arazi's contribution to humanity. Amongst other things, Arazi's inventive mind enabled the transmission of the first photos from the moon. The inauguration was followed by a gala birthday party at IDC at which Arazi's guests included Rona Ramon, the widow of the astronaut, Vice Premier Shimon Peres, former Air Force chief Eitan Ben Eliahu, former Southern Command head Yom-Tov Samia and of course, IDC president Uriel Reichman. They were serenaded by Shlomo Artzi, who was there in more than a professional capacity. Artzi had given Ramon a copy of his record album "Moon" before Israel's first astronaut embarked on his ill-fated journey to outer space.
  • WHILE THERE has been an outcry against the government for denying elderly people, especially elderly Holocaust survivors, the means with which to live out their lives in dignity, some people are not waiting around to see how long it takes the government to put its money where its mouth is. Eye doctors from Barzilai Medical Center took the initiative and went out each Friday for six weeks to Ahuzat Horim a senior citizen's facility in Ashkelon, to examine the eyes of the 80 elderly residents who, due to a variety of ailments in addition to their eye problems, find it difficult to travel. As a result of the examinations, some will undergo surgery for the removal of cataracts, while others will be treated for other eye diseases.
  • AS FOR elderly Holocaust survivors, they have found a legal champion in well-known Jerusalem attorney Tami Raveh, the daughter of Gideon Hausner, who was the chief prosecutor in the Eichmann trial. Interviewed by Gabi Gazit on Israel Radio, Raveh admitted that she had been unaware of the extent of the problem, but now that she knows about it, she will leave no stone unturned until the matter is rectified. If her father were alive, she said, he would be outraged by the injustice perpetrated against the survivors. With a large, multi-partnered law office at her disposal, Raveh will draft new legislation and lobby intensively for it to be enacted by the Knesset. She and her husband, attorney Yehuda Raveh, have more than a little clout in the corridors of power.
  • CONNECTIONS ARE invariably made between Holocaust Remembrance Day and Independence Day when an almost vanquished Jewish people rose again like a phoenix from the ashes in proof of Biblical promise and prophecy. Rabbi Avigdor Burstein, addressing the congregation of Jerusalem's Hazvi Yisrael synagogue last Saturday, put it most succinctly when he said: "We live in an era in which a grandfather with a number on his arm embraces his grandson who has a number on his dog-tags, and each has much to tell the other."
  • WELFARE MINISTER Isaac Herzog this week joined members of the Rabin family and their close friends in paying tribute to the late Leah Rabin at a symposium by Alut, the Israel National Autism Association honoring her memory. Rabin was for many years the staunchly devoted chairperson of Alut and was instrumental in raising funds in Israel and abroad so that more autistic children could be helped through Alut's various projects. Alut director Margalit Tirosh credited Rabin with having put autism and the needs of autistic children on Israel's welfare map. Certainly anyone who spent more than just a few minutes in Rabin's company could not remain unaware of Alut and what it was doing. The dynamic and charismatic Rabin succumbed to cancer in November 2000, five years after the assassination of her husband, Yitzhak Rabin.
  • HERZOG's AUNT, Suzy Eban, whose life has been bound up with the evolving history of Israel in which she herself played no small role, is writing her memoirs. Eban will relate numerous delightful anecdotes about people in high places. She's doing the writing on her computer, explaining that she learned to type many years ago, so that when the computer arrived, it became a member of the family, and she had little trouble in learning to use it.
  • BAR ILAN University is today marking the 120th anniversary of the birth of Israel's founding prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, with a six-hour symposium under the title, "Statehood and Judaism." The final session that will take place in the evening will deal with memories of Ben-Gurion, and will have only two presenters: Ben-Gurion's long-time personal assistant, Yitzhak Navon (who went on to become Israel's fifth president), and Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau. Curiously, Ben-Gurion's grandson, Yariv Ben-Eliezer, who is probably the best-known figure in the Ben Gurion family, is not among the speakers at any of the sessions, even though he qualifies on three counts. First and foremost, he's in the direct line of descent and was very close to his grandfather. Secondly, he's an academic with an impressive teaching record; and thirdly, as an expert in communications, he has on several occasions acted as a campaign manager and/or media consultant to leading political figures including Shimon Peres, who like Navon, was one of Ben-Gurion's most loyal disciples.
  • ON SOME haredi bus routes in Israel, women are relegated to the back of the bus. In India, says artist Sali Ariel who is vacationing there, the women sit in the front of the bus because it's easier for those with infants or with shopping carts to get in and out. A greater similarity that she found was in the colorful shopping areas, which in many respects reminded her of Tel Aviv's Allenby Street.
  • IT'S NEVER too late to pursue a dream. Betty Shlomi always liked to put a smile on people's faces, but hadn't thought of making a career out of it until leaving the employ of the Australian Embassy 16 months ago after working there for nearly 25 years. She had spent nine years as Business Development Manager and another 16 years as manager of the Australian Trade Commission. She came to the conclusion that it was time to move on. She wasn't completely sure of what she wanted to do, but when a friend told her of all the trials and tribulations of having her home renovated, Shlomi thought it was so funny that she decided to write it down. Once she had done that, she thought she should share it with other people. It was more than a whim. It was genetic. Her paternal grandfather was a comedy stage actor in Berlin before he and her grandmother were sent to the Warsaw Ghetto. So Shlomi went from promoting bilateral trade to boosting smiles. She became a stand-up comedienne, and found that people were not only smiling, but laughing. Part the reason is that she incorporates literal translations of well-known Hebrew expressions so that Anahnu shotim botz (We drink Turkish coffee) is presented as "We drink mud"; and Ness im halav v'sucar (Instant coffee with milk and sugar) becomes "Miracle with milk and sugar." It's a new take on Henglish, and Shlomi is having a ball and thoroughly enjoying this change in her life.
  • IT TOOK a long time in Jewish history before the birth of a girl was turned into a celebration similar to that of a boy, without the circumcision. Bearing in mind that religious identity in Judaism is taken from the mother and not from the father, it's rather strange that the concept of Simhat Bat was so late in coming. Truth be told, it's a much nicer ceremony than a Brit Milah. Certainly, the naming of Lia Revaya Zion Waldocks, the first-born child of Ehud and Tanya Zion Waldocks, was a heart-warming experience with the continuity of family customs on both sides - the gift of a heart shaped necklace from the baby's paternal grandparents, and a pillow embroidered with the names of all the children in the extended family, provided by her maternal grandparents. Because her name had not been made public, the pillow did not include the name of Lia Ravaya, but the thread was already in place. Although most of the infant's relatives and those of their friends who attended are native English speakers, the ceremony, for the most part was conducted in Hebrew, with the baby receiving numerous blessings over a large embellished glass Elijah's Cup filled with water, which Tanya Zion Waldocks explained had so much significance in Jewish tradition. There was also a great feeling of east-west togetherness, which began with a North African hymn sung by Dror Yehoshua, who was one of Tanya Zion Waldocks' teachers. Initially, the melody was unfamiliar, but the rest of the people in the room soon caught on and sang the refrain, someone began to play a drum to accompany the singing, and a little ululating from those who knew how added to the North African ambience. There were other Ashkenazi tunes, culminating with Shlomo Carlebach. It was an event in which everyone participated. The first sabra for one side of her immediate family, Lia Revaya might well have been a fourth generation sabra, had her great great grandmother remained in Jerusalem. The baby's father, a night editor at The Jerusalem Post, revealed that his great grandmother had come to Jerusalem from America in 1926, but six months later moved back to Brooklyn, "because Jerusalem was not a place in which to raise Jewish children."
  • WITHIN THE course of their duties, ambassadors engage in an extraordinarily wide range of activities including those of an academic nature. At one time or another they get to see all of the major institutions of higher learning, as well as some of those which are still in the process of image building. They are ardently courted by representatives of both categories. Thus the presence this week at Netanya Academic College of Japanese Ambassador Yoshinori Katori was yet another activity in the line of duty. Katori, who is interested in advancing relations between Japan and Israel at all levels, was particularly interested in NAC's Center for Strategic Dialogue and impressed with its efforts to advance peace and understanding not only in the Middle East but throughout the world. He was hopeful that more Japanese academics would come to Israel to participate in such dialogues. In fact he wants to increase Japanese tourism to Israel in general. Last year, of the 17 million Japanese tourists roaming the globe, only 8,000 came to Israel. NAC's president, Prof. Zvi Arad, his deputy, Prof. Yossi Ginat, and Dr. David Altman briefed Katori on the workings of NAC and the Center for Strategic Dialogue and emphasized that founders of the Center included such notables as former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev, former prime minister Ehud Barak and Jordan's Prince Hassan. The center is currently headed by former justice minister Dan Meridor, and has conducted dialogues in the US and Europe as well as Israel with a view to promoting possible solutions to conflicts in different parts of the world.
  • DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY is not what it used to be, which may explain why Janet Rogan, who is deputy chief of mission at the British Embassy as well as British consul-general in Tel Aviv, was searched at the prime minister's office last month when she accompanied a delegation of British Treasury officials led by Ed Balls, the economic secretary to the Treasury to a pre-arranged meeting with the PM's chief of staff, Yoram Turbowicz and senior policy adviser Shalom Turgeman. Even though the names and titles of the group were sent in advance, Rogan was asked to submit to a body search. She refused, and in order to prove her identity, presented her diplomatic ID card. She was nonetheless told to step behind a screen where she had to remove her blouse and undergo a body search. It would have been humiliating under any circumstances, but more so given that she is No. 2 at the British Embassy and accompanying such a high profile group of visitors. She is not the only diplomat whose credentials have been ignored by security personnel at government offices, at Ben Gurion Airport and by the immigration police. The wife of a South American ambassador and a member of her household staff were last year unconscionably treated by immigration police. Former Chinese ambassador Chen Yonglong frequently complained about the way in which members of his embassy were harassed when crossing the road in Tel Aviv from one office to another of the Chinese Embassy. And although he was not speaking about diplomats but about the way that Filipinos in general are hounded in Israel, the late Antonio Modena, who was the ambassador of the Philippines, made a most unflattering and damning remark about the way that Israeli security authorities treat foreigners.
  • THE INTERNATIONAL Academy of Television Arts & Sciences - with members in nearly 70 countries - has announced the launch of its newest outreach initiative: the Ambassador Program. Ambassadors are active members who volunteer on behalf of the Academy to act as representatives in their respective countries. The program aims to raise the profile of the Academy globally and encourage local producers and broadcasters to submit entries for the International Emmy Awards competition. It also hopes to increase existing member participation and encourage new membership. "As the largest global organization of broadcasters, The Academy has the mandate to be representative of all the television cultures in the world," says Academy President & CEO Bruce Paisner. "Our ambassadors will help us to achieve that by promoting membership and educating producers worldwide on how to enter the International Emmy Awards competition and get recognition from their peers." Gabriel Rosenberg, president and CEO of Jerusalem Capital Studios, has joined colleagues from Australia, France, Germany, Hungary, Mexico and Norway in confirming their willingness to act as Ambassador. The International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the largest organization of global broadcasters, was chartered with a mission to recognize excellence in television programming produced outside of the United States, and it presents the International Emmy Award to programs in 14 categories. The academy includes some of the world's top television and media leaders who come together to exchange ideas, discuss common issues and promote new strategies for the future development of quality global television programming. The International Emmy World Television Festival will be held in New York City in mid-November, and will feature unique screenings, panels and presentations from around the world. Rosenberg has served as a director on the board of the Academy since 2000 and is the first Israeli representing a private company to be elected. He is also an adviser to the board of directors of Sun Wah Media Group, operating out of Hong Kong. He joined JCS in 1979 when it was still a small company and was instrumental in building it into one of the most important firms in Israel's telecommunications market.
  • ISRAEL RADIO's Izzy Mann, who was the co-producer of the impressive series of broadcasts that last year celebrated 70 years of radio in Israel, is now writing a book on the subject. Despite the wealth of material available, he says the endeavor is nonetheless frustrating because so many original tapes have disappeared or have been destroyed. Mann is fortunate that a lot of the research that he conducted for the broadcasts can also be used for the book whose working title is "The Voice of Israel from Jerusalem."