Grapevine March 14, 2021: In tribute to Shira

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

Shira Isakov in her new strapless gown. (photo credit: RAFI DELOYA)
Shira Isakov in her new strapless gown.
(photo credit: RAFI DELOYA)
Regardless of religion or race, all the women in Israel who are murdered by their spouses or partners become, within weeks of their deaths, nothing more than a statistic as far as the general public is concerned. Only relatives and friends can tell their stories, and the information is incomplete and second-hand. But in the case of Shira Isakov whose former husband, Aviad Moshe, came close to killing her in the presence of their infant son, there is a survivor who can tell the story of what it is like to live with domestic violence, presenting a picture of harmony to the outside world, and living in constant fear for one’s life at home.
The fact that Isakov is alive to tell her story is a miracle. Stabbed 20 times and brutally beaten, she is gradually reclaiming her life and has become a national symbol of survival. When she told her story to Ilana Dayan in the latter’s Uvda (“Fact”) program on Channel 12, and recalled some of the ways in which her husband had tried to dominate her life, she spoke of a strapless gown of which she was very fond. Her husband didn’t like it, forbade her to wear it, and threw it in the trash.
Among the thousands of viewers who watched the program was Israel’s paramount producer of fashion shows Motty Reif, who revived the annual Tel Aviv Fashion week that this year is sponsored by Kornit Digital in collaboration with Channel 13.
When Reif heard Isakov talk about the strapless dress, he literally got goose bumps, and made an instant decision that part of the gala opening of Kornit Tel Aviv Fashion Week on March 28, during the intermediate days of Passover, would include a strapless dress parade in tribute to Isakov’s courage. He asked 15 designers to create 15 strapless gowns to be worn by well-known powerful women, who inter alia include Isakov, actress and Israel Prize laureate Gila Almagor, popular singer Rita, actress and director Yael Abecassis, television and radio broadcaster Geula Even Sa’ar, photographer and journalist Lihi Lapid, politician Yifat Shasha-Biton, Deputy Mayor of Tel Aviv Meital Lahavi, actress Netta Garti, actress, model and designer Ronit Yudkevitz, television personality Miri Nevo, public relations executive Hila Rahav, plus other well-known figures.
The strapless dress tribute is designed to give support and strength to all victims of domestic abuse, and to spell out the message that they can wear what they like, when they like and anywhere they like without their choice of attire being dictated by anyone.
All the dresses will subsequently be sold at the boutique of NGO Ruach Nashit (“Women’s Spirit”) with proceeds going toward helping women who have escaped domestic violence to become self-reliant and economically independent. The boutique is located at 88 Menachem Begin Street, Tel Aviv.
Fashion Week compère will be supermodel and actress Bar Refaeli.
■ LAST MINUTE pre-Passover gift shopping for a good cause will not only help Ra’anana-based artists and craftspeople, but also the people who suffer most from Israeli bureaucracy: African asylum-seekers, whose female component come together at Tel Aviv-based Kuchinate, which means “crochet” in the Tigrinya language. Kuchinate is an arts and crafts-based economic and psychosocial collective for African women, enabling them to pursue the cultural traditions of the communities in which they were raised, while earning a fair wage by designing and creating baskets, fashion, housewares, decorative candles, masks, bracelets, bags, seats, book covers, key chains and more. They also host events and run crochet workshops and traditional coffee ceremonies.
Most of the collective’s women have survived painful and traumatic experiences. Art, combined with therapy, a sense of community and wholehearted support from Israeli women and women who are in Israel as diplomats, students, business people, on academic-exchange programs and more, are important factors in the healing process of these talented refugees who are terrified of being sent back to their countries of origin.
Several women in Ra’anana are opening the gardens of their homes to local artists and the general public on Friday, March 19, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. There will also be items by Kuchinate arts and crafts creators.
Potential buyers can either go from one garden to another or stick to the one closest to where they live. Choices are: the Goodman/Sone home at 4 HaTsankhanim St.; the Rubinstein home at 1 HaTsankhanim St.; the Ziering home at 12 HaAvodah St. and the Belik home at 31B Herzl St..
Potential buyers do not have to be residents of Ra’anana. Anyone who wants to buy and to support these hard-working African women is welcome.
■ JERUSALEM RESIDENT Maureen Kushner makes a point of observing the anniversaries of the deaths of Moses and his sister Miriam.
In previous years, Kushner traveled to Mount Nebo in Jordan on the anniversary of Moses’s passing to look out as he did on the Promised Land, entry to which was denied him. COVID put an end to these travels, and now she just puts out a message, reminding people of the date and asking them to light a memorial candle. However, she hasn’t given up on her traditional honoring of the memory of Miriam, which comprises a musical hillula of song and dance aboard a boat sailing across the Sea of Galilee. This annual women-only event attracts quite a following.
Kushner was in Tiberias last week to make arrangements for the Sunday, March 21, event. It will be led by violinist, harpist and singer Chava Rachel, singer Tziona Achishena and drummer Hadar in a spirited rendition of Psalms, the Song of Miriam and Hallel. That will be followed by a Dance for Miriam introduced by Aviva Jodi Spiegel followed by other dancing and music by various performers, then a Carlebach version of “Nishmat Kol Hai” with Dina Solomon, and concluding with a jam session in which everyone joins in.
Total cost of participation including a round trip from Jerusalem to Tiberias plus the two-hour boat ride is NIS 200. People coming on their own should meet at 4:15 p.m. at the Basel Café in Tiberias.
Stragglers will miss out. For further information, telephone (052) 475-4492 or email [email protected]
■ KNESSET ELECTIONS are just over a week away on March 23, but even after the results are published a day or two later, the final outcome remains to be determined, and will be based not only on the party which receives the most mandates, but also on the recommendations to President Reuven Rivlin by all other parties as to who should head the next government. It is well-known that Rivlin is reluctant to yet again task Benjamin Netanyahu with that responsibility, but he intends to follow the democratic process, which he may start before receiving the final results of the elected parties.
Even then, political pundits will be pondering all the possible scenarios, some of which will be discussed by Jerusalem Post senior diplomatic correspondent Lahav Harkov and former Israel ambassador to Australia Mark Sofer on Wednesday, March 31, at an online panel discussion hosted by the Zionist Federation of Australia. Prior to taking up her present position at the Post, Harkov was for several years the paper’s Knesset reporter, in which capacity she has interviewed numerous political leaders and other figures of political influence, in addition to which, she is well-acquainted with the workings of the alliances between different political parties.
Sofer, a career diplomat, is well-known to Australian Jewry, having completed his posting to the southern continent in August 2020. His string of academic qualifications from the London School of Economics and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem include degrees in international relations and political science. While it will not be possible by March 31 to know what the new government will look like, providing there will be sufficient coalition partners to guarantee its formation, discussing the possibilities will make for an interesting conversation, especially remembering that preelection promises fade into oblivion when reality takes hold. The discussion is scheduled for 8 p.m. Australian Eastern Daylight Time, which will be 10 a.m. Israeli time as by March 31, Israel will have changed to daylight saving.
Preregistration is required at zfa.com.au/postelection.
■ IT’S EASY for people to become politically confused when they see an advertisement from a distinctly right-wing publication in a distinctly left-wing newspaper. The annual Jerusalem Conference hosted by the BeSheva group of papers owned by Arutz Sheva, the religious right-wing radio station that broadcasts from Beit El in the West Bank, has been advertised several times in Haaretz, which is openly opposed to Jewish settlement in the West Bank.
Go figure, unless for BeSheva, this is a new form of religious outreach, and for Haaretz, business is business. The BeSheva people who have been advertising in their own publications for several weeks now must have had an inkling that in the final weeks before the elections, convention centers would reopen, along with museums, restaurants, gymnasiums, et al, which is why they will be conducting their conference at the Jerusalem International Convention Center today, Sunday, March 14, and tomorrow, Monday, March 15. The conference will be opened by President Rivlin, and the keynote address will be given by Prime Minister Netanyahu, by which time Rivlin will have left the hall.
Although the vast majority of speakers are on the Right side of the political spectrum, given the proximity of the elections, the Left is also well-represented. Not only politicians are among the speakers. There will also be speakers from several other fields. As far as the politicians are concerned, it will be interesting to hear how many of them, if any share thoughts on ideology, something sadly lacking in campaign publicity.
■ ALTHOUGH LESS than a handful of embassies have relocated to Jerusalem, most ambassadors love coming to the capital. Soon after the National Library reopened, German Ambassador Dr. Susanne Wasum-Rainer and Cultural Attaché Richard Hayato Yamato presented the library with a gift of 50 German-language books, primarily for the Humanities Collection. The presentation was made to National Library Chairman David Blumberg within the context of Germany’s current year-long celebration of 1,700 years of Jewish life in Germany, and the contribution by German Jews to the country’s cultural and economic achievements.
Later in the same week, Australian Ambassador Paul Griffiths visited the library to view some rare items shown to him by Head of Collections Dr. Raquel Ukeles. The ambassador was subsequently taken on a tour of the new National Library building construction site by NLI CEO Oren Weinberg. Griffiths later tweeted that he had “an incredible visit” where among other items he saw Sir Isaac Newton’s notes. As for the new library under construction, Griffiths tweeted, “It will be an amazing academic, cultural and tourist site.”
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