Grapevine: Marriage in the madness

ASHKENAZI CHIEF Rabbi Yona Metzger has performed numerous wedding ceremonies in his time, but never has he joined as many couples on a single day as he will on August 14, when he unites 50 couples in a mass wedding ceremony at the Tel Aviv Port. Mass weddings in Israel are usually a rededication and a religious commitment by immigrants from the former Soviet Union who had a civil wedding the first time around and after coming to Israel decided to cement the bond in accordance with the Law of Moses. This time the mass ceremony will involve couples from the North whose wedding plans went awry as a result of the security situation. Rather than postpone the ceremony, they welcomed the initiative of events organizer Eliran Bardugo who coordinated the mega wedding that will include family and friends of all 50 couples. Celebrity fashion designer Galit Levi, whose clients include Pnina Rosenblum and many of Israel's stars, is donating the 50 bridal gowns. Levi's clients are in the upper income bracket, and not all the brides who will wear one of her gowns next week would ordinarily be able to afford her creations. But at a time when everyone is helping the people of the North, Levi, who was busy all week with fittings for the 50 brides, thought the best thing she could do for young couples on the road to matrimony was to contribute her stock in trade. That's not all that they'll be getting as a gift. They will also be serenaded under the canopy by Yehuda Sa'ado, last year's winner ofA Star is Born. WHILE ON the subject of A Star is Born, here is yet another pie in which the Jewish Agency has its finger. The Jewish Agency helped French contestant David Selem come to Israel to compete in the current series. Although he was eliminated last Friday, and understandably disappointed, Selem has promised to return with his wife Joanna and infant son Avraham in two months. The family is making aliya, and plans to settle in Ashdod. THERE WAS no explanation required for the departure of Akiva Tor, the World Jewish Affairs Adviser to President Moshe Katsav, but nonetheless, Tor, who was on loan from the Foreign Ministry, feels it necessary to tell anyone who asks that his leaving had nothing to do with the president's recent scandal. It was always understood that Tor's was not a long-term post, and that he would eventually return to the Foreign Ministry where he has applied for three vacant positions, two of which would keep him in contact with Jewish communities abroad. However, since the appointments committee is not likely to make any decisions in the immediate future, he is cooling his heels and continuing to help the president. THERE WAS an abundant supply of Irish whiskey, Irish Mist and Irish beer, not to mention a touch of the blarney at the reception hosted by Malcolm Gafson, chairman of the Israel Ireland Friendship League and his wife Leah at their gracious home in Ra'anana, in honor of Israel's ambassador-designate to Ireland Zion Evrony and his wife Rita. Notwithstanding the tragedy earlier in the day in which 12 reservists were killed by a Katyusha rocket while waiting at Kfar Giladi to receive their combat orders, the house was full of people, some of whom had come from as far away as Haifa to wish the Evronys well in their mission to Ireland. Also present was genial Irish Ambassador Michael Forbes. Forbes noted that in the old days, ambassadors to each other's countries did not meet each other. Those days are over, he said. Forbes also spoke warmly of the Jewish community that Evrony would be encountering in Ireland. "The Irish Jewish community are nice people" who have contributed to "the essence of Ireland" through the judiciary, politics and other areas, he said. Noting what a particularly difficult day it had been for Israel, Forbes expressed the wish that there would be light at the end of the tunnel, and said that it was recognized that the initial attack by Hizbullah against Israel had been unprovoked. Evrony, who is winding up his current job as head of policy planning at the Foreign Ministry, apologized for not yet having mastered Gaelic, but said he was trying. He was looking forward to working with Forbes on many projects, he said. As for the war in the North, Evrony surmised that its outcome "will have a profound effect on many issues in the Middle East." He was looking forward to his new role, he said, and would take up the challenges of increasing bilateral trade and Irish tourism to Israel. But more important, he would work toward improving Israel's image in Ireland, especially with regard to coverage of Israel in the Irish press. "Wish me good luck," he urged. ONE IS never too old to head an advertising campaign. Singer Yaffa Yarkoni, 80, is currently heading the campaign for leading eye doctor Prof. Michael Blumenthal, telling the world that she too had cataracts and underwent successful surgery. So far so good, but for the fact that Yarkoni is politically associated with the far Left and Blumenthal, at least by virtue of marriage, and presumably by conviction, with the Right. Blumenthal is married to former Likud Knesset member and former deputy minister Naomi Blumenthal.