Grapevine October 17, 2021: A woman's work...

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

 FRENCH AMBASSADOR Éric Danon with Maya Tchich. (photo credit: DORON BEN)
FRENCH AMBASSADOR Éric Danon with Maya Tchich.
(photo credit: DORON BEN)

With only a week to go to the announcement of the new chair of the Jewish Agency, at least one of the candidates is not sitting around and biting her nails. Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, who is a deputy mayor of Jerusalem, will be participating in Muni-Expo in Tel Aviv on October 20-21, where she is one of the speakers in a session about 2022 and whether it will be a year to remember. She will be speaking about international relations, economic development and tourism. If necessary, she could also speak about migration, because she deals with immigrants on a daily basis, and is appalled by the number who do not receive what they are entitled to by law.

■ INASMUCH AS the generosity of people who are neither Israeli nor Jewish is appreciated in their willingness to help bring immigrants to Israel, providing bomb shelters, building housing for Holocaust survivors, volunteering to care for such survivors, funding summer camps, working on kibbutzim, and supplying food and clothing to the poor, there is something shameful in the fact that in the Jewish homeland we have to rely on non-Jews for so many things that strictly speaking are the responsibility of the government and the nation’s municipalities.

One such organization that provides assistance in all of the above-mentioned areas is the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, which in honor of Aliyah Week, sponsored aliyah flights arranged by the Jewish Agency for 105 SELA students from the former Soviet Union who arrived in Israel ahead of their parents in order to be able to take up their studies at the start of the academic year.

ICEJ has also helped with bringing members of the Bnei Menashe to Israel.

No less important is the fact that it recently ordered another 30 new portable bomb shelters, which will be delivered in the coming weeks to Israeli border communities that are especially vulnerable to rocket fire from Gaza and Lebanon, with an increased focus on protecting civilians in the northern Galilee and Haifa regions.

 THE TORAH SCROLL that was smuggled into the HASAG forced labor camp in Czestochowa, Poland. (credit: Courtesy) THE TORAH SCROLL that was smuggled into the HASAG forced labor camp in Czestochowa, Poland. (credit: Courtesy)

With these shelters, the ICEJ has now donated a total of 155 bomb shelters in the last 15 years to communities under rocket threat, with the majority (129) placed in towns along the Gaza periphery and the remaining 26 in the North.

Over the past decade, the Negev region has received most of the attention from government and private sources seeking to better protect the local civilian population from frequent rocket barrages. Working in partnership with Operation Lifeshield, the Christian Embassy has placed dozens of mobile bomb shelters in the Gaza border communities, stretching from Kerem Shalom in the south all the way up through Sderot and Ashkelon. Most have been donated to schools, daycare centers, medical clinics, youth centers, community halls, college campuses, factories and other public places that cannot operate during times of crisis without adequate bomb shelters.

However, the need for more bomb shelters in the North has become an increasing concern, especially due to the severe lack of public shelters and Lebanon’s growing economic crisis. Thus, the Christian Embassy is shifting its focus to assisting towns in the northern Galilee and Haifa regions to protect their most vulnerable communities.

A State Comptroller report issued last year warned that the 2.6 million residents of northern Israel do not have access to functional bomb shelters. While there have been efforts to upgrade existing shelters, the state budget has provided little funding to add new and better shelters, due in part to the instability of the government over recent years and the priority given to resupplying Iron Dome batteries.

The need for more shelters is most acute in the towns right along the northern border with Lebanon, which are prone to shorter-range rockets that cannot be stopped by the Iron Dome.

In the coming weeks, the Christian Embassy plans to deliver some of the new shelters now on order to public places in Haifa, Nahariya, Acre, Kfar Hamaccabi and elsewhere – all in consultation with local security chiefs.

Over recent months, the ICEJ has received donations for these particular bomb shelters from Christians in dozens of countries, most notably from Brazil, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, Fiji, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“Many Israelis living along the Gaza border have told ICEJ representatives that these mobile bomb shelters indeed save lives and give their families the peace of mind they need to continue their daily lives under the constant threat of rocket attacks,” said ICEJ President Dr. Jürgen Bühler. “We now want to focus more on the need for additional bomb shelters to protect civilians in the North. The existing public shelters are not enough and these portable shelters are an effective way to provide greater security to the smaller towns and villages in the Galilee and Haifa regions that are often overlooked.”

Bühler added that the Christian Embassy also is keen to promote Jewish-Arab coexistence with the aid of these shelters.

■ JUST OVER a week ago, the global Ilan Ramon miniature Torah scroll, which is a replica of the one that Ilan Ramon took into space and was destroyed with the disintegration of his spacecraft as it re-entered Earth, was inaugurated at the Ilan Ramon Elementary School in Modi’in. The final letter in the scroll was written by former chief rabbi Israel Meir Lau, which was very fitting, considering that the original miniature scroll had been smuggled into Bergen-Belsen and that Lau was one of the youngest of child Holocaust survivors who had been liberated from a concentration camp. Lau survived Buchenwald. 

■ IN ANOTHER incident involving a smuggled Torah scroll, Alon Goldman, chairman of the Association of Czestochowa Jews in Israel, is trying to solve the mystery of a Torah scroll that was smuggled into the HASAG forced labor camp in Czestochowa and used for secret services by Rabbi Noah Edelist. The Torah was brought into the camp by someone else, who is believed to be a shoemaker by the name of Icek Propinator who migrated to Canada after the war. Goldman has done considerable research in an effort to find out more information about both men and about Jewish religious life in Czestochowa in general and HASAG in particular, but seems to have struck an almost blank wall. If there are people who know anything about either of the two men, Goldman would be grateful if they make contact.

With billions of pages that have been written about the Holocaust, there are still so many gaps that remain to be filled.

■ THE MEMORIAL ceremony marking the 26th anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin will take place at Rabin Square on Saturday night October 30. It will probably be the last time that the square that was renamed for Rabin following his death, which had occurred in the immediate aftermath of a peace rally in the very same square, will be used to commemorate the anniversary of his death and to promote his legacy.

Used for fairs, demonstrations and a bevy of other activities, it is about to become a construction site for the underground section of the Green Line light rail service. After long negotiations, construction was approved by the subcommittee of the National Infrastructure Committee headed by Nava Alinsky-Radai.

Total construction will take about four years, during which period access to business enterprises and crosswalks will be maintained, but bus routes and other vehicle travel in the immediate vicinity will be considerably reduced.

Construction work will be carried out by China State Construction Engineering Corp. (CSCEC), which in 2019 won a tender issued by NTA Metropolitan Mass Transit System Ltd. 

Meanwhile, other than the Rabin Center, another major venue should be explored for celebrating the centenary of Rabin’s birth in March 2022.

After all, it’s not that far away.

■ FOUNDED IN 1828, Guerlain, the French perfume, cosmetics and skincare company, is one of the oldest of its kind in the world, and not so long ago, opened a spa at the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem, which in is original incarnation was built a century after Guerlain came into being. Obviously, the person to officially inaugurate the spa, which is as Parisian as it gets, was France’s Ambassador to Israel Éric Danon, who inter alia, was also in Jerusalem last week as one of the hundreds of people participating in the Jerusalem Post’s 10th anniversary conference. It was the conference’s 10th anniversary, not that of the paper, which will celebrate its 89th anniversary in December. Danon was joined by Maya Tchich, the national marketing manager for Hilton, which manages the Waldorf. The two-story spa offers a wide range of services.

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