Grapevine: Remembering Leah Rabin

RAN RAHAV presents a citation and check to Hodaya Dekel of Alut.  (photo credit: YAHELI LOZOBER)
RAN RAHAV presents a citation and check to Hodaya Dekel of Alut.
(photo credit: YAHELI LOZOBER)
Of politicians no longer in the land of the living, the names of two - Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Shamir -have been frequently recalled in recent weeks as a point of reference by way of a solution to the current political stalemate. Another name has also been recalled in relation to the controversial film Incitement, or Days of Awe as it is called in Hebrew, which takes an in depth look into the life and motives of Yigal Amir, who assassinated prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Next month, the nation will mark the 24th anniversary of Rabin’s death. Somewhat less attention will be paid to the fact that it is also the 19th anniversary of the death of Leah Rabin who succumbed to cancer on November 12, 2000. Among the people who were very close to the Rabins were one of Israel’s best-known public relations and television personalities Ran Rahav and his wife Hila, who is both his marital and his business partner.
Prior to Incitement winning the Ophir Award, the Rahavs hosted a screening of it because they believed that people should be reminded of the circumstances that led to Yitzhak Rabin’s death. Only a few days later, they hosted a Rosh Hashanah toast in memory and in honor of Leah Rabin, who, in 1974, was the founder of Alut, the Israel Society for Autistic Children.
Leah was a passionate and effective fund-raiser for several organizations and institutions, but Alut was definitely her baby. The Rahavs went along with her on most of her charitable and cultural endeavors, often becoming members or volunteers of the organizations and institutions on whose behalf she worked. Because Alut was close to her heart, it remained close to theirs. They have been volunteers of Alut for 35 years, and are well aware of the fact that it takes a special kind of dedication to work day in and day out with autistic children and adults. This awareness, coupled with a desire to show some small degree of appreciation to Alut staff for their devotion, their understanding, their patience and their upholding of the highest levels of social values prompted the Rahavs to establish a Leah Rabin Memorial Prize, which was awarded for the first time at an Alut Rosh Hashanah toast.
In presenting the awards, Rahav said that if Leah was alive, she would be extremely happy to see how Alut has developed and what a significant role it plays in the destinies of youth and adults with various forms of autism, as well as in the lives of their families.
This year, the awards will be given twice, said Rahav. The second time will be at Alut’s annual Leah Rabin memorial conference. The initial winners of citations and modest cash prizes were Hodaya Dekel, Eliel Negri and Gal Hirshler.
Approximately 800 children in Israel are diagnosed each year with some level of autism. New therapies often help them to fit with relative ease into mainstream society. Many of them are incredibly gifted in the arts and mathematics. Some can never adjust to mainstream society, and special provisions are made for them by way of boarding schools and homes for adults.
■ THE TAIL end of the Hungarian Year of Culture is fast approaching, and one of the final components in the many events hosted by Hungarian Ambassador to Israel Levente Benkő is a photo exhibition of works by Endre Emő Friedmann, the celebrated Jewish, Hungarian-born American war photographer better known to the world as Robert Capa. The political situation in Hungary prompted Capa to flee to neighboring countries and then to Berlin when he was still a teenager. Following the rise of Hitler, he moved to Paris where he met German-Jewish war photographer Gerta Pohrylle, whose professional name was Gerda Taro. The two joined forces and their photojournalism was published under the pseudonym of Robert Capa. Widely considered to be the greatest of all wartime photojournalists, he covered the Spanish Civil War, the Chinese resistance to the Japanese invasion, the Second World War, the effects of war on the Soviet Union, Israel’s War of Independence and the first Indochina War in which he met his death in 1954 at age 40.
He was both a stills and movie photographer.
He had moved to America during the Second World War, but later returned to Europe to document what was happening. After the war, he went to Paris and was a founder of Magnum Photos, which quickly developed into one of the most prestigious photo agencies in the world.
The exhibition, which is part of the Hungarian-Israeli design exhibition at the Tel Aviv Port, will be officially opened on October 10. Capa was born on October 22, 106 years ago.
■ FORMER PRIME minister Ehud Olmert celebrated both his birthday and the New Year in tandem with each other. Olmert turned 74 on September 30.
■ CHILD HOLOCAUST survivor Rena Quint, who lives in Jerusalem and is now in her eighties, is an outstanding example of a family rebuilding itself. Polish-born Quint was the sole survivor of her family. She survived the camps, was severely ill and sent to Sweden, and taken from there to America, where she was adopted by a loving childless couple who gave her a good home and an education. After her marriage to the late Rabbi Emanuel Quint, who became a prominent New York lawyer before taking early retirement and moving to Jerusalem, she gave birth to four children, who in turn provided her with 22 grandchildren who have so far given birth to 29 great-grandchildren, with more currently on the way. Quint long ago gave up hope that any of her close family members survived the Holocaust, but through in-depth investigations has discovered a lot more about them than she knew as recently as 20 years ago.
But after all this time, there are still miracles for some Holocaust survivors if not for Quint. A report of a very meaningful UK-Israel connection appeared in the British publication Metro, which reported the reunion of two Romanian cousins who had been best friends and had each thought that the other had not survived the Holocaust. Morris Sana, 87, who lives in Israel, was reunited with his cousin Simon Mairowitz, 85, who lives in Britain. It’s a known fact that Facebook has helped to reunite families when all other avenues for tracing relatives have failed. One never knows who is going to be reading a Facebook post and where it may lead.
Sana’s granddaughter Leetal Ofer, who posted a video of the cousins’ reunion on Facebook, wrote that it was one of the most moving things she had ever seen. She added that her mother had recently found some lost relatives via Facebook… and the rest naturally followed. The two cousins searched for each other after the war, but their efforts proved fruitless. Mairowitz flew to Israel for the reunion, and the two men who had not seen or heard from each other in 75 years, were photographed in a tearful embrace.
■ GIVEN THAT we are in the midst of the Ten Days of Repentance, one can’t help wondering whether Yair Lapid telephoned any of the MKs from United Torah Judaism or Shas to apologize for attacking them during and even before the election campaign, or whether he apologized personally when they were all at the Knesset yesterday. He may not even be aware of the extent to which he hurt them. If a non-Jew outside of Israel said anything similar about Jews, whether ultra-Orthodox or secular, he would immediately be accused of antisemitism. The fact that Lapid’s grandfather was murdered by the Nazis and that his father was a Holocaust survivor does not give him license to place the most appalling characterizations on ultra-Orthodox Jews, Arabs, leftists or any other segment of Israeli society.
By the same token, will Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ask forgiveness from Israel’s Arab and leftist leaderships as well as from the Israeli media for all the maligning he did against them? As far as the media is concerned, it should be reciprocal. On the face of it, the anti-Netanyahu stance taken by the bulk of the Israeli media against the prime minister and members of his family for more than a decade made it impossible for him to pretend that he was unaffected. In fact, more than once he literally begged for a hands off where his family was concerned and asked that all the poisoned arrows be directed at him. So maybe the media should also apologize to the Netanyahus and leave it to the legal authorities to decide whether he should be brought to trial, and whether he should be sentenced.
By the way, since any excuse for a holiday is a good excuse in Israel, let’s introduce a national goodwill day in which no one finds fault with anyone, and everyone is as pleasant as possible to everyone else. If we’re lucky, it might even carry over to the next week.
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