Grapevine: Remembering Teddy

Helmut Kohl, who visited Jerusalem several times, is remembered in perpetuity in Israel’s capital.

JOSEPH GITLER (center) accepts an award from Prof. Galia Sabar (right), president of Ruppin Academic Center, and Ra’anan Dinur, chairman of the executive committee. (photo credit: CHEN LAUFELD)
JOSEPH GITLER (center) accepts an award from Prof. Galia Sabar (right), president of Ruppin Academic Center, and Ra’anan Dinur, chairman of the executive committee.
(photo credit: CHEN LAUFELD)
Although he died in January 2007, for some odd reason the Jerusalem Foundation is marking the 10th anniversary of the death of legendary Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek on Thursday, June 29. The occasion will be used to dedicate the Teddy Kollek Digital Archive, which will give visitors to the Ann and Kenneth Bialkin Visitors Center at Teddy Park opposite the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem an opportunity to learn much more about the life and times of the man who worked so closely with David Ben-Gurion and other world leaders, including Helmut Kohl, a former chancellor of Germany, who died this month.
Kohl, who visited Jerusalem several times, is remembered in perpetuity in Israel’s capital. His first visit to Israel was in 1984, at which time he went to Yad Vashem. He went there again on successive visits. In 2005 he came for the 40th anniversary celebration of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany, and during that visit inaugurated the Konrad Adenauer Center in Mishkenot Sha’ananim, which has become an integral part of Jerusalem’s cultural scene. Kohl’s name is perpetuated at the Hebrew University’s Institute for European Studies.
■ WHEN YOU are a citizen of the world, you not only get to see and experience more, but, if you are an achiever, you also come in for more honors. Case in point is Frank Lowy, the chairman of the Board of Directors of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.
Lowy, a veteran of the War of Independence, was born in Slovakia in 1930, and lived with his mother in hiding in Budapest during the Second World War. His father and other family members died in Nazi death camps. After the war the teenage Lowy made his way to France and boarded a refugee ship that was sailing to Palestine, which was still under British Mandate control. The British authorities sent him to a detention camp in Cyprus. Once the State of Israel was proclaimed, he was able to find his way there and joined the Golani Brigade.
Severe economic austerity in the early years of the state caused Lowy to leave in 1952 and to seek his fortune in Australia, which is also known as the lucky country. Indeed, it was lucky for Lowy. According to rich list publications, he is today the fourth-richest person and the third-richest man in Australia, with an estimated wealth of $8.26 billion. The two men ahead of him, Anthony Pratt and Harry Triguboff, are also Jewish.
Lowy’s first business venture in Sydney was a sandwich shop, but he had higher aspirations, and after meeting fellow immigrant John Saunders, the two founded Westfield Corporation, which mushroomed into high-class shopping malls and expanded to New Zealand, the United States, London and Milan.
Lowy didn’t keep all his wealth for himself and his family. He has been a generous philanthropist in both Australia and Israel. In 2000, he received Australia’s highest civilian honor, and was made a Companion of the Order of Australia; and this month, he was appointed a Knight Bachelor in the Queen’s Birthday Honors in recognition of the contribution that Westfield and its investment branches have made to Britain’s economy. Lowy has also been involved in several large-scale philanthropic enterprises in the UK, and is now entitled to be addressed as Sir Frank.
■ TAKING TIME out from peace-liaising efforts between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, US Ambassador David Friedman will be the keynote speaker at the Konrad Adenauer Center Jerusalem on June 27 at the B’nai B’rith World Center’s annual awards ceremony for journalism. The award, initiated by the late Dr. Wolf Matsdorf, a German-born journalist who spent many years in Australia before settling in Jerusalem, where he was an editor of the B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem Journal.
This year’s winner is Yaniv Pohoryles, home page editor and writer for the Jewish World section of Ynet. The award is made in recognition of excellence in Diaspora reportage. In 2014, the World Center decided to expand its awards criteria and introduced a special citation for fostering Israel-Diaspora relations through the arts. The first honoree in this category was Nurit Hirsh, followed by David D’Or and Idan Raichel. This year it will be singer, guitarist and songwriter David Broza, who is also involved in fostering Palestinian- Israeli relations through music.
At the ceremony, there will be a special memorial tribute to Chilean born Bambi Sheleg, who died last year at the age of 58. Sheleg was the winner of the award in 2011 for a special issue of Eretz Aheret – a magazine she founded and edited – on Israel-Diaspora relations. She subsequently served on the jury that adjudicated submissions. Sheleg was a prominent figure in bringing together people of diverse backgrounds.
■ THERE WILL be a changing of the guard during the three-day meeting of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency, which begins Sunday. Outgoing chairman Charles Ratner will speak at a gala event at the Knesset, where he will share a platform with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky. Michael Siegal, the incoming chairman of the board of governors, will be inducted on Tuesday night.
■ FOOD SECURITY is one of the major problems troubling many nations of the world. Millions of people do not have enough to eat, and even when they manage to scrounge up one meal a day, it might be filling, but by and large it will be lacking in nutrition.
Israel is no exception when it comes to inadequate supplies of food to the poorest of the poor. To try to overcome or at least reduce this situation, Joseph Gitler, the founder and chairman of Leket, found a way of providing for Israel’s poor by saving on wasted produce. On the basis of what he and Leket volunteers have been able to glean from fields and from restaurant and banquet leftovers, Gitler has been able to feed hundreds – possibly thousands of starving Israelis, and in the process has also managed to preserve their dignity.
In recognition of this, the Ruppin Academic Center conferred an honorary fellowship on him and on Leket. This award is given to organizations and individuals who are deemed extraordinary examples of Zionist values. The award is conferred on organizations that contribute to society and to individuals whose actions make them role models for Ruppin students.
Gitler was recognized for taking on national responsibility for bringing the issue of food waste and rescue to the public discourse and for demonstrating respect for the dignity of Leket’s food recipients. Gitler said he was humbled to join the outstanding group of people who were previous honorees, such as Nobel Prize laureates former president Shimon Peres, Prof. Roger Kornberg and Prof. Daniel Kahneman. Former Mossad director Shabtai Shavit is also an honorary Ruppin Fellow. Gitler is particularly pleased that more than 40 Ruppin scholarship students are regular volunteers with Leket.
■ MORE THAN 70 years after the end of World War II, untold numbers of people around the world are still trying to find lost relatives or at least to discover their fate. Many are aware that relatives who survived did not make contact because they thought that everyone else in their immediate family had been murdered by the Nazis and their cohorts. Such people may have married and had children, and now there is an effort to locate family extensions and family roots.
Alon Goldman, the chairman of the Association of Czestochowa Jews in Israel and the vice president of the World Society of Czestochowa Jews and their Descendants, is a frequent visitor to Czestochowa and reports that Polish archives have all been digitized, and that it is now easier to locate files that are in the archives and that relate to family businesses and to the general history of individual families.
On his most recent visit, Goldman, who on each of his visits has tried to learn more about his family, discovered a whole new world. His grandfather Jakob Goldman, who ran in import-export business that was established in 1927 and was closed by court order in 1950 because it was no longer operating, had left plenty of paper proof. Jakob Goldman was deported to a concentration camp and never returned to continue his business, but his grandson found not only the court order for closure but also a letterhead from his grandfather’s firm replete with logo and phone number. The phone number was indeed indicative of how few people had phones in those days. The number was 4-13.
The number of the Czestochowa Archives is +48 34 363 89 31. As a matter of fact very few of the original Czestochowa archives were destroyed by the Nazis during the war, because they were stored underground.
■ ON THURSDAY, June 29, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs will host EU Counterterrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove, who will speak on “Europe’s Challenges in Coping with Terror.” The lecture will be held at JCPA headquarters, 13 Tel Hai Street. Registration is required at email [email protected], Tel. (02) 561-9281, or Fax (02) 561-9112. Ironically, it is terrorism that is breaking down hostilities against Israel, because even its worst critics recognize its expertise in dealing with terrorism, which is now a global scourge.
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