Grapevine December 13, 2020: Not Friday the 13th – Sunday the 13th

FORMER US and Israel ambassadors to the UN Nikki Haley (left) and Danny Danon before the start of a UN Security Council meeting in 2017.  (photo credit: REUTERS)
FORMER US and Israel ambassadors to the UN Nikki Haley (left) and Danny Danon before the start of a UN Security Council meeting in 2017.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
What a day for concerts and other Hanukkah events. Among the many events is a Magen David Adom Tribute to Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks with Sivan Rahav Meir, in addition to which there will be candle-lighting stories of miracles. The program can be accessed on Magen David Adom’s Facebook account. The UK branch of Magen David Adom has launched an appeal to raise £135,000 to purchase the first of a new series of bloodmobiles for in memory of Sacks.
■ AT THE same time as the MDA tribute, Yehoram Gaon will be joining the World Zionist Organization’s UK branch from the Petah Tikva Cultural Hall, from where he will sing and tell stories to audiences in Britain and Israel. Also on the program will be Ambassador to the UK Tzipi Hotovely, Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata, chairman of the World Zionist Organization Yaakov Hagoel, and the head of the WZO delegation in the UK Itzhak Sonnenschein, along with Rabbi Joseph Dweck, the senior rabbi of the Spanish and Portuguese Sephardi community. The program – at 6 p.m. London time and 8 p.m. in Israel– can be accessed at and possibly on the WZO UK Facebook page.
■ SUNDAY NIGHT has also been chosen by The Musicians of Tomorrow for their Gala Global Concert featuring soloists Miriam Suisa (piano), Ronnie Arbitman (piano and violin) and Lavie Zarfati (clarinet) – who also plays in the East-West Ensemble together with cellist Leat Sabbah, who is the ensemble’s director & arranger, violinist Barak Dan, oud player Gil Tzemach, guitarist Amit Asraf, contrabass Erez Fogel, and percussionist Ariel Smith.
Musicians of Tomorrow was established n 2006 by world famous violinist Maxim Vengerov together with Dr. Anna Rosnovsky, a retired Israel Philharmonic Orchestra violinist. Their goal was to give musically gifted children living in Israel’s northern periphery the chance to study music under the guidance of first class teachers in order to realize their potential, and where possible to excel and become professional musicians. The project has produced more than a hundred superb young musicians, who have played to audiences throughout Israel and abroad.
Several of them come from socioeconomic backgrounds in which there is so much hardship that it is doubtful whether these youngsters would have been able to receive the training for successful musical careers without the school in Rosh Pina that is headed by Rosnovsky who was trained in Russia. The work of the school is supported by Vengerov and Zubin Mehta, the former musical director of the IPO.
The gala has been prerecorded, and organizers promise that there will be no glitches or sound problems that Zoom may have, and will later be available for viewing via YouTube. Access is free of charge. Registration is at
■ ONLY 23% of Israelis have been able to maintain their pre-COVID standard of living, according to the Alternative Poverty Report that was presented by Latet to President Reuven Rivlin this week. Rivlin was dismayed by the findings, and noted inter alia that 33% of Israel’s school children do not have access to computers.
“The findings show the lack of trust the Israeli public has in the institutions of state and the government, and its ability to deal with and respond to the challenges the crisis poses,” said Rivlin, adding that there a growing reliance on charities, third sector organizations and philanthropy which are called on to fill the role played by government at this difficult time. “Unlike other report, Latet reports on the human face of poverty, giving a platform to people themselves,” Rivlin said. “Behind every story there is a name, a person, a father, mother, son, daughter, released solder, young student without financial support, in constant fear, some of whom are going hungry. The report shows, simply and clearly, the crisis of confidence and the internal crisis we are facing now at a national and societal level. This was confirmed by Latet founder and President Gille Darmon, who told Rivlin “we are in the field on a daily basis, and we see that the citizens have done what was asked of them, but they continue to suffer.”
“We are in the worst economic crisis in the country’s history from which it will take Israeli society years to recover,” said Latet’s Executive Director Eran Weintrob. “In economic terms, COVID-19 has become COVID-21. The issue is not a political one but a societal one,” he emphasized.
During the presentation ceremony of the Latet report, Rivlin was shown a video in which a Beersheba 12th grader named Tal, who is a Latet youth leader, revealed what the organization means to him. Orphaned by the deaths of both his parents, Tal lives with his sister. He used to be a Latet food recipient until he joined its youth movement and became a leader. “I used to receive food,” he said. “Now I give it to those in need.”
In many cases, the opposite is true. Researchers surveying poverty levels have frequently been told, “I used to give to charity, now I am among those who are receiving charity.”
■ JEWISH DIVERSITY has met with strong opposition in the ultra-Orthodox camp, which follows a Talmudic injunction that if your life is in danger, it is better to take shelter with a non-Jew than a non-practicing Jew, because you will remain conscious of your differences with a non-Jew, but not necessarily with a non-observant fellow Jew. This refusal by ultra-Orthodox elements to recognize Conservative, Reform and other streams of Judaism has led to ever widening rifts in Jewish communities around the world and between the Jewish communities of Israel and the Diaspora. In an attempt to close these gaps, the World Jewish Congress in partnership with the Diaspora Affairs Ministry will bring together Jewish women spiritual leaders from across the religious spectrum and around the globe for an online forum on “Women in Contemporary Judaism: Jewish Unity and Religious Diversity.”
The forum will include keynote addresses by Diaspora Affairs Minister Omer Yankelevitch, former MK Ruth Calderon and Noemi Di Segni, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities. Two panels, “Religious Leadership: Challenges and Opportunities” and “Emerging Leaders in an Ever-Changing Jewish Landscape,” will highlight a range of Jewish women’s perspectives. Panelists, including female rabbis, will represent geographic diversity, as well as the Orthodox, Reform and Conservative streams of Judaism.
The two-hour event on December 15 will take place at 10 a.m. EST 4 p.m. CEST and 5 p.m. IST.
It will be shown on Zoom and will be live streamed on Facebook
■ ON THE following day, The Jerusalem Post DiploTech Global Summit will include one of Israel’s favorite US ambassadors to the UN – Nikki Haley, whose defense of Israel was as good as that of any Israeli ambassador, as Danny Danon, who was Israel’s ambassador to the UN, can vouch. The two will be appearing with other diplomats, policy makers,and innovators at the conference on Wednesday, December 16, at 11 a.m. EST, 6 p.m. in Jerusalem. The program will be televised. Additional details are available at [email protected] Danon is so excited about this conference that he has been tweeting about it for quite some time.
■ SOME ORGANIZATIONS plan their events at the last minute while others get in well ahead. Among the latter is the Israel Britain and the Commonwealth Association whose executive had the prescience to invite Post political correspondent and analyst Gil Hoffman to be the guest speaker at their end of year virtual brunch on December 27. When the invitation was issued, there were doubts as to whether the unity government would last the distance, but few people if any, saw the kind of political upheaval that sends political pundits back to the starting line. The upheaval generated by Gideon Sa’ar may not be the only one, and in the two weeks leading up to Hoffman’s address to IBCA, a lot could happen that could only add to the interest in what he has to say.
■ WHILE IMMIGRANTS from Ethiopia have begun to once more arrive in the country, and to reunite with their families who have been living here for years, the Canadian Friends of Tel Aviv University have seen fit to arrange a Zoom event to honor the memory of Baruch Tegegne, a prominent Ethiopian Jewish activist, who died on December 27, 2010, in Montreal, Canada.
Tegegne was born in 1944 in Wozaba, Ethiopia, a remote Jewish hillside village of 200 families. He worked for much of his life in helping to bring his people to Israel, where he himself arrived as a child in 1955, remaining until 1963 when he returned to Ethiopia. He remained there during the civil war and after the death of Emperor Haile Selassie, worked in various businesses and as an agronomist. He also set up something in the nature of a moshav for Ethiopian Jews on the Sudan border. In 1975 he joined other Ethiopian Jews as a refugee, and traveling via Nigeria, arrived in Israel in 1976.
If Ethiopian Jews today suffer discrimination in certain quarters, it was much worse 45 years ago, so much so that Tegegne led a protest march in Jerusalem, which captured the attention of Menachem Begin. Tegegne subsequently served in the IDF and also worked with the Mossad, and kept badgering the government to bring more Ethiopian Jews to Israel. He also spoke to major Jewish organizations in Europe, the US and Canada.
He eventually settled in Canada, where his daughter Yaffa is a human rights advocate. In 2013, she married Benjamin Ahdoot of Montreal, and the couple came to Israel for the wedding that was held at the Baruch Tegegne Ethiopian Cultural Center in Rehovot. The event in her father’s memory is under the title of “Ethiopian Global Leadership – Past, Present, Future.” Yaffa Tegegne, who is continuing with her father’s legacy, will obviously be among the speakers. Others are Tamano-Shata, Chair of the Board of TAU Prof. Jacob Frenkel and Baruch Tegegne’s cousin, author and journalist Tsega Melaku. The event is at 10 a.m. ET and 5 p.m.
■ FOR THOUSANDS of Israelis, December 27 will be a very significant date, in that this is when mass anti-COVID vaccinations begin, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu undertaking to be the first Israeli to be vaccinated by way of demonstrating his trust in the vaccine and allaying the fears of people who are afraid to be inoculated. The question remains as to what people who decline to receive the vaccine will be subjected. Those who are vaccinated will receive a green card or passport that offers them entry to social and commercial premises without any hassles. But what will be the rule for those who don’t have a green card? Will they be barred or will they merely have to submit to temperature tests as is presently the case?
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