Grapevine December 19, 2021: The sound of music

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

Three Italian tenors who will be singing across Israel early next year. (From left), Rosolino Claudio Cardile, Gabriele Mangione and Manuel Rodrigues. (photo credit: EGOTIST PRODUCTIONS)
Three Italian tenors who will be singing across Israel early next year. (From left), Rosolino Claudio Cardile, Gabriele Mangione and Manuel Rodrigues.

The long tradition of the annual gala musical dinner of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra Foundation at the Tel Aviv Hilton was disrupted last year by the coronavirus restrictions, but it’s on this Sunday, December 19, in celebration of the 85th anniversary of the IPO, founded by Polish-Jewish violin virtuoso Bronislaw Huberman, and the 75th anniversary of the first album by Frank Sinatra, whose popularity as a singer remains intact 23 years after his death. 

Coincidentally it could also be a celebration of Sinatra’s birthday. He was born on December 12, 1915. The inaugural concert of the IPO was on December 26, 1936. Sinatra visited Israel for the first time in 1962 and gave seven concerts, including one for Israeli soldiers. He made several subsequent visits and supported several Jewish and Israeli causes.

Friendly with Jews since his youth in Hoboken, New Jersey, Sinatra was a keen supporter of Israel and actively raised funds for the establishment of the state and for several of its institutions. He also raised money for Israel Bonds. 

The musical side of the gala will include performances by Lahav Shani, IPO musicians, the Israeli Jazz Orchestra, and singers Alon Oliarchik, Sivan Talmor, Gilan Shahaf and Mickey Sadeh.

■ EVERY OPERA lover has a favorite opera or two or three. For those who love opera no matter what, there is an opportunity for “A Night at the Opera” featuring three well-known Italian tenors Rosolino Claudio Cardile, Gabriele Mangione and Manuel Rodrigues, singing arias from well-known operas, along with some favorite Napolitan songs in a festival of Italian music that will be performed across the country from January 29 to February 2. 

They will be first at the Smolarsz Auditorium at Tel Aviv University, then the Jerusalem Theatre, followed by the Beersheba Theater of the Arts, the Haifa Auditorium and the Ashdod Performing Arts Center. 

A symphony orchestra will be conducted by Dan Rapaport, who has conducted extensively in Italy. The price of tickets starts at NIS179. For further information and to purchase tickets:

 Frank Sinatra watching an IDF military parade, 1962.  (credit: BORIS CARMI, THE MEITAR COLLECTION) Frank Sinatra watching an IDF military parade, 1962. (credit: BORIS CARMI, THE MEITAR COLLECTION)

■ EVEN THOUGH contestants in the Miss Universe competitions are judged on brains as well as looks, and even though they support various human welfare causes, feminists remain opposed to this and other beauty pageants, ignoring the fact that many of the contestants are university graduates, and are using the beauty pageant as a platform to either advance their careers or their social status.

Although the media in Israel was enthusiastic about the recent Miss Universe contest that was held in Eilat, several women’s organizations were highly critical. Among the critics was the Israel Women’s Network, which held an alternative event under the title “Miss Fix the Universe,” at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation. Among those attending were women who have made their mark in Israel’s real estate, food, hi-tech and security industries.

The event was billed as an opportunity to show Israelis the real beauty of the state, which can be found in social action, women’s activism, and women who work to change the world in areas of human rights, women’s rights, the environment, social justice, democracy and equality.

Contestants for Miss Fix the Universe were judged by 243 women registered on the event’s website. Following a round of public voting, the adjudicators, led by retired district court president Judge Saviona Rotlevy, chose to award funds to three enterprises, with another three enterprises receiving business consultancy from the accounting and consultancy firm, Deloitte.

Social entrepreneurs who were awarded NIS 30,000 in funding included: Yael Vered, for the “Shame Moves Aside” initiative; Amira Qassam and Hani Sabag, who are behind “job360,” which works to increase employment in Arab and haredi societies; and Yael Sherer, who runs The Lobby for a War against Sexual Violence. 

The business consultancies were awarded to Dr. Maya Torem, founder of a rehabilitation clinic for women without recognized status who fall into the cycle of prostitution; Muna Arok, codirector of Mahapach-Taghir, which gives Arab and Jewish women from disadvantaged communities access to academic studies; and Fay Sukenik, founder of the As Far as You Go association, a community of haredi women who are going through the difficulties of a divorce.

Among the many senior and cultural figures who were present were: Linur Dloomy, head of the Risk Management team at Deloitte; Osnat Golan, deputy dommunications director at Strauss; Efrat Duvdevani, director general of the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation; actress Esti Zakheim, who hosted the event; Ella Alkalai, chair of the Israel Women’s Network and vice-president of Business Development at IBI Investment House; Adv. Einat Fischer Lalo, director of the Israel Women’s Network and the initiator of the event, and many other prominent female activists. 

“We established Miss Fix the Universe as an alternative, because we believe that to measure a woman by how she looks and the size of her waist is an erroneous way of looking at the place of women in society,” said Fischer Lalo. 

“Women bring amazing initiatives into the world, which bring hope and change to society, science, to businesses and the environment, in Israel and the world at large. This is the time to respect the activism and the forward-thinking, to celebrate, to fund and to promote projects that work for a better world, and the women who stand behind them.”

Duvdevani, who held key positions with prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and president Shimon Peres and then continued with Peres at the Peres Center, said: “The path I took wasn’t simple for me or for senior figures in the country, who had to approve the promotion of a woman to a senior position. The Israel Women’s Network, in which I believe, has always been feminine, and when I am in a key position, I make it my goal to pass the baton onward and to help women break through the glass ceiling.”

■ AT THE recent book launch of "Ma’ase Tuviya – Venice 1708: Tuviya on Science and Religion," published by the Muriel and Philip Berman Library of the Hebrew University/Hadassah-University Medical School, and edited by Kenneth Collins, Samuel Kottek, and Helena Paavilainen, tributes were paid to Kottek, who had recently celebrated his 90th birthday. Kottek is the HU’s emeritus professor of the history of medicine. 

Speakers who lauded Kottek included Collins, who is joint editor with Kottek of Korot: the Israel Journal for the History of Medicine and Science, which Kottek had edited alone for more than 30 years; Emeritus Professors Shifra Shvarts, of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev; Avi Ohry, of Tel Aviv University; and Yoel Donchin of the Hadassah University Hospital and Medical School.

The book launch was organized by Sharon Lenga, senior librarian, and her staff at the Medical Library. This book is the third in a series of studies of key Jewish medical figures in the medieval and early modern world. 

The first two looked at the medical world and practice of medicine of Maimonides in Cairo/Fostat and Isaac Israeli in Kairouan (Tunisia).

Tuviya Cohen was born in France, graduated from the Medical School of the University of Padua in 1683, served successive sultans in Constantinople, and spent his last years in Jerusalem at the center of its Jewish community during a turbulent period of its history. 

Speaking on behalf of the book’s editors, Collins described how they had collected articles which illustrate the breadth of Tuviya’s knowledge, the innovative quality of his book, the first-ever Hebrew encyclopedia of medicine and science, and the artistic quality of its illustrations, many of which were reproduced in full color in the new volume.

■ “WHO IS responsible for caring for Israel’s lonely and isolated Holocaust survivors?” asks Jay Shultz, the founder of the Adopt-a-Safta organization.” We should all be,” he says.

Even though there are numerous organizations that support and care for Holocaust survivors, too many elderly survivors fall through the cracks, and are not cared for or contacted by any organization. Adopt-a-Safta pairs young people with Holocaust survivors,with whom they spend time in their homes on a regular basis, providing companionship, shopping and help with household chores.

While most Holocaust survivors have established families, some are completely alone. And not all those who have families live in the same city or town as their children and grandchildren, and they too are lonely. 

For most off the year it’s enough to just visit them, but in winter, they need to be provided with extra blankets, heaters, food and medications. Many of those who live an isolated existence became further isolated during COVID. 

Shultz and his team have put together support packages, and are conducting a fundraising campaign to provide for all Holocaust survivors in need. 

A donation of $180 will support one winter package. A $3,600 donation will make it possible to support 20 Holocaust survivors. All funds raised will be matched by the Gene and Marlene Epstein Humanitarian Fund. Further details are available on the Adopt-a-Safta Facebook page.

■ WHILE SHULTZ is taking care of Jewish Holocaust survivors, Jonny Daniels, a British-Israeli living in Poland, is taking care of the Righteous Among the Nations.

He travels throughout Poland to find them, and at this time of year, he brings them a large Christmas box of decorations and Christmas culinary delicacies, along with anything else they might need. 

Daniels works through the From the Depths organization, which he founded after settling Poland.

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