Grapevine: In the eye of the beholder

Fashion week, music, and international relations in Israel.

PETAH TIKVA MAYOR Itzik Braverman, right, poses with Chia-lung Lin, the mayor of Taichung City, Taiwan, after signing a sister-city agreement. (Courtesy) (photo credit: Courtesy)
PETAH TIKVA MAYOR Itzik Braverman, right, poses with Chia-lung Lin, the mayor of Taichung City, Taiwan, after signing a sister-city agreement. (Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Few names are better known in Israel’s fashion industry than that of Motty Reif, a producer of gala fashion shows, an event producer and television producer. Reif has more than 25 years of experience in the business.
In fact, he cut his teeth on the gala fashion weeks that took place in five star hotels in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Eilat in the 1970s and 1980s. Buyers would come from many parts of the world to look at Israel’s fashion creativity, especially at collections produced by Gottex and Beged Or, whose founders each came to Israel from Hungary. In the early 1980s, Fashion Week began to fizzle, and there was a long hiatus before Reif persuaded various major players in the industry to revive it in 2011.
This year’s Fashion Week will be particularly interesting in that the intention is to disrupt common beauty standards and to embrace male and female models of all shapes, sizes and ages. This is a part of a worldwide phenomenon of anti-bias, expressed in the acceptance of types of people.
Oversized models are not exactly a new concept. Some twenty years ago, Stella Amar, a plus-size Israeli model did well for herself at home and abroad because larger-sized women who wanted to wear pretty clothes instantly identified with her.
This year’s Fashion Week will take place from March 10-13, with the gala launch on March 10 hosted not by a big international name in the apparel industry, but by Pandora, a jewelry designer and manufacturer. To complement the jewelry, Reif has put together an all gold fashion show.
The event will take place at Hatachana, the former railway station facing the beach near the seam between Tel Aviv and Jaffa. Buyers from department stores and boutiques around the world, as well as fashion writers from leading overseas publications, will be coming to see what Israel has to offer. The shows will be a mix of creations by established designers and young designers who are talented but who have not yet found a firm foothold in the industry. Fashion Week is a means of giving them that extra boost.
■ IN LAST Wednesday’s Grapevine, it was noted that US Ambassador David Friedman is a great fan of singer Yehoram Gaon, whose concert he attended on Monday. On the US Embassy website, which also contains recent posts from Friedman’s Twitter account, there is a photograph of Friedman with Gaon with the message that he tweeted on the day after the concert: “Had the pleasure last night to see the great Yehoram Gaon in concert. He is an Israeli national treasure who keeps getting better and better. I’ll be humming the melodies all week!”
■ ISRAEL DOES wonderful things with technology but isn’t very good with propaganda, said Job Daudi Masima, the ambassador of Tanzania, who presented his credentials last June and opened his country’s first embassy in Israel.
The comment came while he was enjoying delicious Indian cuisine at the Tandoori restaurant in Herzliya Pituah that belongs to Reena and Vinod Pushkarna. Reena had donated the premises for a reunion of the 14 people who accompanied Noga, a young cancer-survivor, on a trip to Mount Kilimanjaro last month. When Noga told the Make-A-Wish Foundation a couple of years back that she wanted to lead an expedition to the top of the mountain, she was bald and undergoing chemotherapy. Now in remission and no longer bald, she felt strong enough to realize her wish.
A group of board members from the foundation, plus some businesspeople and actors Dvir Benedik and Lior Halfon, joined Noga in the realization of her dream. Although it was a little difficult for her, she did make it to the top and placed two coins on the peak – one on behalf of youngsters like her still fighting life-threatening illnesses and another in memory of those who lost the battle.
Denise Bar-Aharon, who with her husband, Avi, founded the Israeli affiliate of Make-A-Wish in 1996 in memory of her brother, David, announced at the reunion that sponsors of the trek had contributed half a million shekels and that each donor would be advised of the wishes that were being fulfilled as a result.
Avi had also joined the trek and a video of the experience of the trekkers and their Tanzanian porters caused a lot of laughter among the Israelis, some of whom brought their spouses and children to the reunion, and a feeling of nostalgia to Masima and his wife.
There was also some unexpected entertainment at the dinner. Israeli-born singer Liora Itzhak, who is of Indian parentage and who spent quite a lot of time in India, sang Indian and Hebrew songs, while dancer Natanel Apteker, who does an incredible performance of Indian dancing, demonstrated amazing flexibility.
Itzhak happened to come to Tandoori for dinner with her family a few days earlier and Pushkarna had mentioned the Make-A-Wish event to her. Her immediate reaction was that she would contribute her talent and perform. She has previously performed for the president and prime minister of India.
Now that there’s a Bollywood connection between Israel and India, she hopes to gain entry into Bollywood. Pushkarna, who knows some of the big names in Bollywood, offered to help. This is just another example of the traditional Jewish belief that one mitzva generates another.
■ TO MARK the first month since the passing of Toby Willig, a former president of Emunah of America and staunch loyalist of Emunah of Israel who was also an active member of many other organizations, a memorial evening will be held for her at the Emunah building in Jerusalem, at 6 Arlozorov Street in Rehavia at 8 p.m. on Thursday, February 22. Speakers will include her grandson, Eliezer Koenigsberg, and Rabbi Sholom Gold.
■ A SISTER-CITY agreement has been signed between Petah Tikva Mayor Itzik Braverman and the mayor of Taichung City in Taiwan, Chia-lung Lin, who came to Israel with a seven-member municipal delegation. They were all greatly impressed by what they saw and Lin promised to send additional delegations to strengthen ties in areas of education, tourism, industry, innovation, and hi-tech. He invited Braverman and members of the Petah Tikva municipality to come to Taichung City in November to participate in an international horticultural exhibition.
Petah Tikvah is the first city outside of East Asia with which Taichung City, a hi-tech and industrial hub and – with a population of 2.8 million – is the second largest city in Taiwan, has a sister-city agreement.
■ WHILE ISRAELIS are familiar with Eurovision, not many will have heard of Jewrovision. Organized since 2013 by the Central Council of Jews in Germany but originally launched in 2002, Jewrovision is Europe’s biggest singing and dancing competition for Jewish youth and this year’s competition, held in Dresden, was won by Frankfurt’s Amichai Youth Center.
CCJG President Dr. Josef Schuster, presented a trophy to the winners in the presence of 2,000 cheering spectators.
Or Chadasch Mannheim and JuJuBa (Jewish Youth Baden) tied for second place, and third place went to Chai Hannover.
A jury, which included actors Daniel Donskoy, Aaron Altaras, Susan Sideropoulos, Rebecca Siemoneit-Barum, and musicians Ben Salomo and Ilan Schulz chose the winners from among 18 participating groups. Altogether, the participants, including non-contestants, came from 65 Jewish communities. Each year, Jewrovision is hosted by a different city in Germany.