Grapevine: President to president

OU honors two at annual dinner, Korean envoy looking for Korean War vets and Alyn planning Judaica fund-raiser.

  • FORMER PRESIDENT of Ben-Gurion University Avishay Braverman, who was at the helm of the institution for 16 years and is today the minorities affairs minister, returned to BGU last week to receive a life achievement award. He was one of seven outstanding individuals who were honored within the framework of the 40th annual meeting of the Board of Governors. The other honorees were businessman and philanthropist Abraham Ben David Ohayon; past president of the European Parliament Simone Veil; entrepreneur Martine Rothblatt; Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Miguel Angel Moratinos; scientist Peter Fritz; and philanthropist Toby Mower who were awarded honorary doctorates by BGU president Rivka Carmi.
  • IN FEBRUARY, Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jun, at the festivities that he hosted to celebrate the Chinese Year of the Tiger along with the 18th anniversary of diplomatic relations, spoke of famous Chinese singer Ha Hui, who would come here in September for a performance at the Roman amphitheater in Beit She’an of Chinese classical songs and poems accompanied by modern musical instruments. The performance would be within the framework of the 18th anniversary celebration of bilateral relations plus the 61st anniversary (on October 1) of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China.
    Zhao gave a small group of Israelis and a number of visitors from China, Germany, Canada and the US a preview of the performance at a reception that he hosted for Barbara Kort, a Hong Kong-born philanthropist, who converted to Judaism and who gives generously to Bar-Ilan University and numerous other causes here and in Los Angeles where she lives. Together with her late husband, Fred Kort, a Treblinka survivor, she ran the Imperial Toy Corporation, one of the world’s largest producers of bubbles and novelty toys. Twelve years ago, they established a program at Bar-Ilan University for the absorption of Chinese post-doctoral students in the arts and sciences – and even in Jewish studies. Since then some 100 Chinese academics have come to BIU, and after returning to China, most have become presidents or vice presidents of Chinese universities.
    The program has contributed significantly to the enhancement of academic and scientific ties between Israel and China. During her most recent visit last week, Kort dedicated the Barbara and Fred Kort Doctoral Fellowships of Excellence Program in Humanities at BIU which will cover the tuition, living and other expenses of recipients. At the ambassador’s residence, Kor announced that she also intended to continue with the Chinese program. All the foreign guests at the reception were personal friends who had come here at her invitation. For most, it was a first time visit.
    BIU president Moshe Kaveh recalled that when the program was established with its initial goal of 100 Chinese students, Kort had said: “Now I have 100 children.” Gila Slonim, BIU’s coordinator of North American Operations, described Kort as an ambassador for children, for China, for the Jewish people, for Israel and for BIU.
  • FATHERS AND sons and mothers and daughters always seem to attract media attention. Last week, in celebration of Jerusalem Day, Dr. Aviad Hacohen, dean of the Sha’arei Mishpat Law School in Hod Hasharon, invited his father Menahem Hacohen, the rabbi of the Moshav Movement and a former MK, to address the students. Hacohen, who served with the Paratroops during the 1967 war, held the students enthralled as he told them that immediately after reaching the Western Wall, he commandeered an army jeep and went to fetch Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook, who headed Mercaz Harav, and Rabbi David Hacohen, the father of Haifa Chief Rabbi She’ar Yashuv Cohen, so that they too could experience the moment.
  • THE ANNUAL gala dinner of the local branch of the Orthodox Union is traditionally held on the eve of Jerusalem Day, and almost always at the same venue because of the large attendance. This year, some 400 OU supporters gathered at the Ramada Hotel in Jerusalem to honor Rabbi Ari Kahn, who was the recipient of the Keter Torah award, and Dr. Ephraim Greenfield, who received the Keter Shem Tov award.
    Following an address by keynote speaker, Rehovot Chief Rabbi Simcha Hakohen Kook, a festive prayer was led by the Ramatayim Men’s Choir directed by Richard Shavei Tzion. Dinner chairman Zvi Sand saluted OU Israel’s Mashiv Haruach program carried out in coordination with the IDF. A short video presentation highlighted the important work of OU Israel in “reviving the spirit and rekindling the flame” for more than 30,000 soldiers who have participated in its seminars over the past three years.
  • MANY ISRAELIS may be in possession of Judaica treasures without realizing their value. A unique fund-raising event for the benefit of the Alyn Pediatric and Rehabilitation Center that is being held on June 3 at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem by the Jerusalem Friends of Alyn may also benefit Judaica owners. American-born William Gross, who now lives in Tel Aviv and is an internationally known collector of and expert on Judaica, is willing to evaluate objects belonging to participants and to discuss their provenance.
    People often don’t know the history of what they own he says, but through his experience on the market, and comparing objects to those of similar design and/or rarity, he can usually tell where they come from, how old they are and what they’re worth. He doesn’t expect to find any museum pieces, but one never knows. Owners of Judaica who would like their objects evaluated should send non-digital photographs of the items to JFA, P.O. Box 2964, Jerusalem 91029. The function will take the form of a Road Show presentation for which tickets are $180 each. All entries accepted for discussion will be uploaded onto a Picasa album and shown on a large video screen. Owners of such entries will be notified by the end of May, so that they can make plans to attend.
  • LONGTIME SUPPORTERS of the Israel Museum, Fred and Della Worms, whose gifts to the museum include the saving and restoration of the Cochin synagogue, were among the merrymakers who last week celebrated the museum’s 45th anniversary at a colorful birthday party, where colors surpassing the rainbow were infused in balloons lining the ceiling, tablecloths and chairs and even in the food presentation. Della was telling friends and acquaintances about plans to involve the museum in the couple’s anniversary. It just so happens that 2010 is a multiple round number year in the Worms family. Fred turns 90, Della turns 80 and they’re also celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary.
  • THOUGH NO longer directly involved with political life, Aryeh Deri, former cabinet minister and would-be returnee to a seat in the Knesset, has maintained contact with many of his former colleagues and followers. As a result, celebrations in his family turn out to be huge affairs. The wedding on May 25 of his daughter Dassi to Yitzhak Iluz is no exception. Deri and his wife Yaffa have hired Jerusalem’s Renaissance Hotel, which has the largest banquet facilities of any hotel in the capital.
  • INVITED BY the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel to lecture on Abraham Joshua Heschel, with whom he studied at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York and on whose thought he wrote his PhD thesis plus a number of articles, Prof. Harold Kasimov was asked by a member of the audience whether there was any other Jewish theologian who was as widely known by non-Jews as Heschel. People in the room began throwing around names like Franz Rosenzweig, Mordecai Kaplan and Byron Sherwin, when someone piped up: “Let’s not forget Jesus.”
  • A DIRECT descendant of Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States and a more distant relative to Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president, Dr. Albert Lincoln, secretary-general of the Haifa-headquartered Baha’i International Community, will be awarded an honorary doctorate at the 38th meeting of the University of Haifa’s Board of Governors that takes place from January 1-3. The honorary doctorate will be conferred in recognition of his contribution to the promotion of mutual understanding, coexistence and cultural pluralism as well as his contribution to the country in general and Haifa in particular. The citation also cites his friendship with the university which is expressed in ongoing collaboration between it and the Baha’i World Center.
  • UNLESS YOU get feedback, you never know who’s listening to a radio program, watching a show on TV or reading a newspaper or magazine article.
    Israel Radio’s Yaron Enosh, who hosts a daily search program on Reshet Bet to which listeners call in with details of missing relatives or friends whom they would like to trace, has been approached by the Korean Embassy, which has enlisted his aid to find Jewish veterans of the Korean War.
    Korean Ambassador Ma Young-Sam wants to mark the 60th anniversary of the start of the war by honoring the Jewish soldiers who left the comfort of their homes to fight in a war on foreign soil.
    In an interview with The Jerusalem Post last year, Ma said that he doubted that he would have been born had there not been the intervention of armies from other countries. Ma put out feelers last year in anticipation of a much bigger commemoration this year.
    In response to that story, close to 30 veterans contacted the Korean Embassy and some were subsequently the recipients of special medals and citations at a ceremony that Ma hosted last summer at his residence in Rishpon in the presence of diplomats representing all 16 countries that fought alongside South Korea.
    In its report of the event, the Post noted that military and defense attachés from several countries were crowded around one of the veterans, Maj. Cecil Davis, who as a B-29 pilot in the US Air Force flew 31 sorties and chalked up 300 flying hours. Davis was one of four veterans of the Korean War who were singled out to receive peace medals and certificates and was the only one who turned up in uniform. It was the uniform he wore in Korea, and it still fit. The other recipients were Cpl. Bernard Sperber, who served in the US Army; navy photographer David Hendelman; and PFC Irwin Goldstein, who said that his family sings a Korean melody at the Sabbath table. He proceeded to sing it and most of close to 25 other veterans present sang it with him or hummed the tune.
    Goldstein died a week after the ceremony.His widow told Ma that receiving recognition in the presence of his family had been one of the most meaningful moments of his life.
    At least one of the war veterans who attended last year also served in the IDF. Ben Robbins, who had served in the US Navy, and had spent six months with the Korean navy teaching crew members how to use a boat that been a gift from the US, was one of the oldest soldiers in the First Lebanon War, serving in the Armored Corps, while two of his sons served in the IAF.
    Veterans can call Enosh on (054) 2467819 or they can get in touch with the Korean Embassy at (09) 951-0318 or
  • IN OTHER news related to Korea, Ma hosted a reception at Jerusalem’s David Citadel Hotel to announce the appointment of attorney Ami-Hai Orkaby as honorary consul-general of Korea in Jerusalem. Guests included a large representation of the legal profession, among them Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog and MKs Tzahi Hanegbi and Dalia Itzik. Also present was Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
  • SEVERAL MINISTERS and MKs were seen at Yarok al Hamayim (Green on the Water). No, it was not an environmental affair, it was a wedding. Yarok al Hamayim is the banquet facility at Kibbutz Hulda. The wedding was that of Ayelet Eshel to Amit Zino, who were united in matrimony by Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau. The reason for the presence of so many ministers and MKs among the 700 or so invitees was that the father of the bride happens to be Natan Eshel, the bureau chief of the Prime Minister’s Office. Leading the ministerial delegation was Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who came with his wife Sara and gave the father of the bride a warm embrace while bodyguards held other guests at bay. Immediately after the ceremony, many of the male guests burst into exuberant hassidic dancing.
  • AUSTRALIAN AMBASSADOR designate Andrea Faulkner, who has yet to present her credentials after more than two months here, is particularly interested in enhancing bilateral relations on a cultural level and has hosted and attended various cultural events since her arrival. This week she hosted a reception at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque prior to the premiere screening of $9.99, an Australian-Israeli coproduction based on the short stories of Etgar Keret, who also wrote the script for the film.
  • BRITISH WOLF Prize laureates plant researcher Sir David Baulcombe of Cambridge University and architect Sir David Chipperfield were feted by British Ambassador Tom Phillips at a brunch he hosted in their honor at his residence in Ramat Gan.
  • PEOPLE WAITING in Netivot for an audience with Rabbi Ya’acov Ifergen, otherwise known as Harentgen (the X-ray), were somewhat put out when two men were permitted to queue-jump. The older was Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman, who was interested in learning about the various institutions established by Ifergen, including a food distribution center for the poor. However Litzman’s aide pulled out a photograph of an ailing relative to ask Ifergen’s advice as to what was wrong with him and how he should be treated. Ifergen correctly diagnosed the illness and stated what treatment the patient had received to date.
  • RUACH NASHIT, which helps physically and mentally abused women achieve economic independence, is holding a bazaar at Dizengoff Center in Tel Aviv from May 26-28. Clothes, jewelry, accessories, cosmetics, books and other items will be sold at prices ranging from NIS 20-NIS 120. All 6,000 items in the bazaar have been contributed by designers, boutiques and chain stores. The event will be augmented by street performances and a dance troupe.
  • IT IS always amusing to note the frequency with which diplomats come to Jerusalem even though the countries they represent do not recognize it as the capital, or even when they do, prefer to keep their embassies in Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan and Herzliya Pituah. A very large contingent of ambassadors and diplomats of lesser rank will be spending time in Jerusalem from Sunday, May 23 to Tuesday, May 25 when they attend a three-day conference on “The External Relations of the European Union: Challenges and Expectations after the Lisbon Treaty” that will be held at Mishkenot Sha’ananim under the joint sponsorship of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the Center for the Study of European Politics and Society, the delegation of the European Union to Israel, the Foreign Ministry, the Spanish presidency of the EU and the Israel Council on Foreign Relations.
    Although the ambassadors of the 27 EU member countries are not scheduled to speak, there will be several ambassadors participating in panel discussions or delivering papers, among them Ambassador Andrew Standley, head of the EU delegation; Tzippora Rimon, director of the Foreign Ministry’s Department for Multilateral European Institutions; and Shimon Stein, former ambassador to Germany and senior fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. Most of the other speakers represent think tanks and academic institutions.