Grapevine: Of presidents and birthdays

This month, in fact today, the Cameri Theater will honor Jerusalem-born Yitzhak Navon with a musical tribute.

theater 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
theater 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
■ Although he was born in April, Israel’s first native-born president, the country’s fifth, continues to celebrate his 90th birthday every month. This month, in fact today, the Cameri Theater will honor Jerusalem-born Yitzhak Navon with a musical tribute – which is entirely fitting given that Navon authored the enduring musical Bustan Sfaradi (The Sephardi Orchard) 40 years ago.
Last year, the Cameri Theater honored President Shimon Peres on his 87th birthday. Peres, who celebrated his fourth year in office last Friday, turns 88 on August 2. Of Israel’s nine presidents, only two have been sabras. The other was Ezer Weizman.
The sabra record in the Prime Minister’s Office is considerably better.
Sabra PMs include Yitzhak Rabin (twice), Binyamin Netanyahu (twice), Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert. If one counts Yigal Allon, who was acting prime minister for a month from February, 1969, the list gets even longer.
■ Fiery singer Rita is a year older than former husband Rami Kleinstein, but more than 10 years older than her former beau, investigative journalist Ronen Bergman, with whom she conducted a torrid and very public romance. Now she has a new love in her life – also 10 years her junior and professionally far removed from his predecessors. His name is Benny Kogan, and he’s a Jerusalem-born kick-boxing instructor working out of his own training school at Teddy Stadium.
These days he lives in Tel Aviv in preference to Jerusalem, but he’s back in the capital several times a week to teach the art of kick-boxing. Lest anyone errs in thinking that he’s just a bunch of muscle, to set the record straight, he has an engineering degree from the Haifa Technion.
As for Kleinstein, his over-exposed romance with Alex Ilan, who is half his age, has evaporated. The two had announced their engagement, but kept delaying the wedding. Then they broke off, got together again, realized that the magic was gone, and split up for keeps. Whether Rita will find a more stable relationship in the world of kick-boxing remains to be seen.
■ His many followers in Bnei Brak and beyond were extremely concerned when sage and scholar Rabbi Ya’acov Galinsky was taken to Ma’ayanei Hayeshua Hospital in Bnei Brak after suffering heart palpitations. The 90- year-old rabbi was kept in for observation for several days before he was permitted to return home. But apparently he comes from hardy stock.
Immediately following his release from hospital, he set off from home to Jerusalem, where he performed the wedding ceremony for his great-granddaughter.
■ FOR THE first time in its history, the very liberal Tel Aviv City Council has a haredi deputy mayor. Moreover, he’s a deputy mayor on salary. Hot on the heels of United Torah Judaism’s Yitzhak Pindrus becoming a salaried deputy mayor of Jerusalem, comes the UTJ’s Naphtali Lobert, a Ger hassid, known for his strong anti-gay views.
Lobert has been a member of the Tel Aviv City Council for several years, but only since the passing of a new law related to salaried deputy mayors has he been elevated both in status and in income. In 2009, he was most unhappy over the fact that El Al had transported a large group of European gays to Israel to participate in the Gay Pride parade. Although there is little doubt that he will be outvoted, Tel Aviv’s LGBT community is already anticipating that he will attempt to cancel the 2012 Gay Pride parade. Be that as it may, the haredi community believes it will fare better in Tel Aviv with Lobert as a salaried deputy mayor than it has done to date.
■ Some 20,000 people flocked to Ganei Yehoshua on Thursday night to enjoy an operatic experience – the Israel Opera’s presentation of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Opera-lovers got more than they bargained for: Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai brought his own flute from home, and played it.
■ SIinger, actor, television host and radio commentator Yehoram Gaon frequently appears onstage as a singer. He hasn’t been on the boards as an actor for more than 25 years, but will play opposite Gila Almagor in the renovated Habimah Theater in Friedrich Durrenmatt’s The Visit of the Old Lady, a fairy tale of sorts about postwar Europe and the corruption of civil society. While audiences will be delighted to return to the revamped Habimah with its large underground car park, they will soon be saying a year-long good-bye to Habimah’s next-door neighbor, the Mann Auditorium, which is also the home of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, currently celebrating its 75th anniversary year. After years of wrangling and controversy accompanied by complaints about the acoustics, the auditorium is finally being subjected to cosmetic surgery.