Grapevine: October birthdays

Child Holocaust survivor Rena Quint, who is in high demand as a speaker on her Holocaust experiences, and frequently speaks to groups at Yad Vashem and elsewhere.

RENA QUINT, 81, doesn’t fit the stereotype of a Holocaust survivor we’ve internalized from literature and movies. (photo credit: Courtesy)
RENA QUINT, 81, doesn’t fit the stereotype of a Holocaust survivor we’ve internalized from literature and movies.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
In Canada and some other countries, it is illegal to dismiss people from their jobs out of ageism. Israel has not yet reached that point, even though many senior citizens are employed in a freelance capacity after reaching retirement age, and those who are fortunate enough to have the right connections can become company directors regardless of their age.
Supreme Court president Miriam Naor had to step down yesterday on her 70th birthday, after 38 years as a judge, beginning with the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court in 1980. She was one of the judges who convicted Interior Minister Arye Deri. She became a member of the Supreme Court in 2003, and its president in January 2015.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu celebrated his 68th birthday on October 21. Officially, retirement age for men who are not judges is 67, but there is no retirement age for politicians.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who was among the guests at Netanyahu’s birthday party at the Knesset on Wednesday, celebrated his 58th birthday on October 19. His birthday party, a surprise affair with 300 guests organized by his wife, Beverly, was somewhat larger than that of the prime minister, whose guests were mostly Likud ministers and MKs and senior officials. It is not yet known whether Barkat will run in the next mayoral elections in a year’s time, or whether he will opt for a chance to become a Likud legislator. It has been reported from time to time that he sees himself as a future prime minister.
From a media standpoint, the most reportable aspect of the prime minister’s birthday was the announcement by his elder son, Yair, that he has no intention of going into politics. In an interview early this month with Harvey Levin of Fox News, Netanyahu said that he hoped that his children would not go into politics, but conceded that one of them might. Now he can rest easy – at least as far as the future of his son is concerned.
■ CONSPICUOUSLY absent from the prime minister’s celebration was President Reuven Rivlin, who until attaining his current apolitical role was a dyed-in-the-wool Likudnik. However, Rivlin was at the Khan Theater in Jerusalem on Wednesday night to join in the theater’s 50th anniversary celebrations, and coincidentally he and his wife, Nechama, sat alongside former Supreme Court president Dorit Beinisch, who was the court’s first female president and ninth president. On the following day, Rivlin swore in Esther Hayut, who is the third female president of the Supreme Court.
■ ALSO SITTING in the audience of the full house at the Khan was the first lady of the Israeli stage, Gila Almagor, who is much more at home at Habimah, but who came to pay tribute to the considerably smaller theater, which is one of the capital’s cultural landmarks. Almagor was warmly greeted by Rivlin.
■ THE NEW head of the Delegation of the European Union, Ambassador Emanuele Giaufret, has a Sabra son. The eldest of his three sons was born in Israel when Giaufret was previously serving here, and knows some Hebrew, as does the ambassador.
The Giaufret family arrived before Rosh Hashana, and the ambassador confessed that he was really looking forward to once again spending the festival in Israel. He took his family with him to Jerusalem this week when he presented his credentials, and Rivlin, who has several young grandchildren, had a fine time interacting with the boys, who were not remotely shy.
Giaufret said that he is pleased to be back in the country that he loves. The timing of the presentation of credentials this week was just perfect. Diplomats who gathered at the King David Hotel for the traditional vin d’honneur to welcome Giaufret and his colleagues Gianluigi Benedetti of Italy, Charlotte Slente of Denmark and Enoch Pear Duchi of Nigeria all continued on to the Knesset for the opening of the winter session.
Foreign diplomats can be seen en masse in Jerusalem several times a year. It would be so much more convenient for them to move to the capital instead of being hampered by political considerations. When the mass move to Jerusalem eventually does happen, it will have a devastating effect on property values and the character of Herzliya Pituah.
■ THREE AMBASSADORS, all of them female, are leaders of the gradual exodus from Herzliya Pituah and Kfar Shmaryahu. So far they’ve moved only as far as Tel Aviv, but that’s still closer to Jerusalem than Herzliya Pituah. The three are Barbara Susnik, the ambassador of Slovenia, Maria Gabriela Troya, the ambassador of Ecuador, and Deborah Lyons, the ambassador of Canada. They all find it exciting to live within walking distance of Habimah.
Apropos ambassadors and Jerusalem, the Foreign Ministry and the Jerusalem Municipality are for the second time hosting a diplomatic race in Jerusalem on November 5. Scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m., the race will have two routes: a 10-km. route for runners and a 3-km. route for walkers. The race will start at the ministry and end at Sacher Park.
This event, a joint initiative of the ministry and the municipality’s sports division, is regarded as a different, innovative and informal way of conducting diplomacy between countries. While diplomats usually meet each other in air-conditioned offices dressed in business attire, participants in the diplomatic race will be wearing casual sports clothes. They will also be able to enjoy some of Jerusalem’s beautiful scenery at their own pace.
If the truth be told, despite the fact that there are no embassies in the capital other than the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, many ambassadors come to the capital in private capacities to spend a day or a weekend with their families and often admit that they would love to live in Jerusalem. But politics being what they are, that is still a distant dream.
■ WHILE THOUSANDS of people congregate in Beersheba on October 31 for the centenary celebrations of the Battle of Beersheba, robot enthusiasts will be heading for the Givat Ram campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to listen to Prof. Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University, who is the creator of the humanoid robot.
Ishiguro, who is being hosted by the Japanese Embassy during his Israel visit, will be lecturing in the Gottlieb Auditorium of the Rothberg Family building. For those who can’t make it to Jerusalem, he will be lecturing again on November 1 at the RISE Tel Aviv Auditorium, inside Mindspace at 54 Ahad Ha’am Street. If anyone needed proof that the future is now, Ishiguro will provide it. What not so long ago was science fiction is now very real.
■ BEING PART of a think tank doesn’t mean being locked up all day in an ivory research tower or even participating in daily conferences. Sometimes think tank researchers give their brains a rest and go out to have fun. Former US ambassador Dan Shapiro, who is currently a fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies, accompanied a group of INSS colleagues to the Galilee, where they stopped off for two full days at the Hagoshrim Hotel & Nature on Kibbutz Hagoshrim. When members of the group were not in the spa or the pool or enjoying the cuisine of chef Matan Margalit, they went out hiking. The region abounds in rivers, parks, forests and historical sites.
■ IT’S NOT exactly a secret conference. It does have two listings on the Internet, but very few Israelis who would be interested in attending know about it. It’s the 29th annual conference of the World Federation of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, which will be held at the Dan Hotel on the slopes of Mount Scopus (formerly the Hyatt) on November 5-8.
The conference is being held in conjunction with Generations of the Shoah International, Kindertransport Association and YESH – Children and Orphan Holocaust Survivors in Israel. There is also a brief mention on the YESH Hebrew website, but neither the Hebrew nor the English give details of the speakers, other than a claim that the conference will be addressed by top speakers. There is also an invitation from YESH chairwoman Miriam Griver for people to come for one day to the conference at a cost of $50 plus value-added tax. A similar notice appears on the World Federation website. The sum includes three meals – breakfast lunch and dinner, which is a fairly good deal for approximately NIS 200, but the offer is available only to the first 100 people who register.
Child Holocaust survivor Rena Quint, who is in high demand as a speaker on her Holocaust experiences, and frequently speaks to groups at Yad Vashem and elsewhere, checked with the people she deals with at Yad Vashem, and they knew nothing about the conference. Various Holocaust survivor organizations that regularly email details of their activities to the media did not send any releases related to the conference – so it appears to be a closed-door affair.
The conference is held in different countries and different states of the US. The next conference in 2018 will be held in West Palm Beach Florida. No date was given.
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