Grapevine: Turning trauma into a force for good

A round-up of who's who and what's what.

President Reuven Rivlin congratulates Ben and Jerry's Israel CEO Avi Zinger  (photo credit: MORAG BITAN)
President Reuven Rivlin congratulates Ben and Jerry's Israel CEO Avi Zinger
(photo credit: MORAG BITAN)
■ THERE ARE many examples, including in Israel, of people turning the trauma of personal tragedies into a force for good to help others.
There is nothing more painful than a parent losing a child. Such grief cannot be measured. But among parents who sought to heal their own pain by helping others in the names of their dead children are Miri and Chaim Ehrental, who founded Zichron Menachem in memory of the eldest of their children who died from leukemia at age 15. Zichron Menachem helps young cancer sufferers up to the age of 25 in a myriad of different ways.
Rivka and David Zylberschlag founded the Meir Panim soup kitchen in 2000 that feeds the poor and is called after their son Meir, who died of a serious illness when he was 13 years old. It has since expanded to become much more than a soup kitchen.
After Nava Applebaum was murdered by terrorists on the night before her wedding, her mother gave her wedding dress to be fashioned into a curtain for the ark at Rachel’s tomb where many would-be brides come to pray. The wedding dress is a symbol that their prayers will be answered.
After Koby Mandell and his friend Yosef Ishran were murdered by Palestinian terrorists in 2001, Koby’s parents established the Koby Mandell Foundation, which provides summer camps and numerous activities and therapies for parents and siblings of youngsters murdered by terrorists.
Malki Roth was another teenager killed by terrorists in the bombing of the now defunct Sbarro pizza parlor. Malki was very attached to her severely disabled sister, so their parents decided that the best thing to do in Malki’s memory was to establish a foundation that would provide special care and equipment for families with a child with disabilities who they refuse to institutionalize and prefer to keep at home in a loving environment.
Each year, the Malki Foundation hosts a fund-raising concert under the title “Rainbow of Music.” This year it will be on Wednesday, November 21, at the Mishkan Music Hall in Ra’anana with performing artists including Shlomo Gronich, Avremi Roth, Colin Schachat and the Ramatayim Men’s Choir conducted by Richard Shavei-Tzion.
Malki Roth was born in Melbourne, Australia, on November 27, 1985. During her short life, she did a lot of good. The concert is in a sense a celebration of the 33rd anniversary of her birth. Australian dignitaries, including a former prime minister, have come to the concerts in the past and spoken about the wonderful work of the Malki Foundation. This year, the dignitary will be Australian ambassador Chris Cannan.
It’s understandable that any bereaved parent would ask “Why my child?”
There are never any answers that can be of comfort. But it’s also a fact that without the very painful sacrifice, many of the foundations established in the names of children who have passed away would not have come into being, and the thousands of people who are helped would be in a far worse situation than they are today. It’s a mutual healing process that often leads to close relationships that are beneficial all around.
■ THERE IS an ongoing partnership between the Israel Office of the Zionist Federation of Australia and Telfed, the Israel office of the South African Zionist Federation, which is holding a comedy night at the Eshkol Pais Ra’anana on Wednesday, November 28, as part of its 70th anniversary celebrations.
The star of the Telfed show is Australian comedian Jeremie Bracka, who does side-splitting routines, some of which are reminiscent of Sacha Baron Cohen. Music will be provided by the classic rock band Jokers and Thieves.
It’s always good to have more than one profession at one’s fingertips. Although he’s well known as an actor, playwright and satirist who trained at Melbourne’s National Theater School of Performing Arts, Bracka is also a human rights lawyer who has worked with Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the deputy president of the Supreme Court, and Israel’s permanent mission to the United Nations. He has performed his original one-man comedy shows in major Australian cities, as well as in Auckland, Hong Kong, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and New York. Soon he will be able to add Ra’anana to his CV.
■ THERE IS definitely life after the Knesset. Former defense minister and vice prime minister Shaul Mofaz, who temporarily disappeared from the radar following his resignation from the Knesset in 2012, left the government after a falling out with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In 2015, he negotiated with the Zionist Union to be their candidate for defense minister, but when it became obvious that this would not happen, he retired from politics.
But he did not retire from public life. This week he was the president of the Homeland Security and Cyber Conference that was held at the Tel Aviv Convention Center, previously known as the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds.
■ AS SOMEONE who is very partial to high quality ice cream, Avi Zinger was able to bring Ben and Jerry’s popular brand to Israel. Not only that, he also holds the local franchise and last week was one of the recipients of the Industry Prize awarded by President Reuven Rivlin and president of the Manufacturer’s Association Shraga Brosh. While speaking glowingly of the contribution of industry to Israel’s development and economy, Rivlin found it inconceivable that not a single woman was among the industrialists who had been found worthy of recognition.
■ LAST WEEK, there was an item in this column about the recognition given to IDC Herzliya founder and president Prof. Uriel Reichman by the Council for Higher Education. Also among the recipients of the CHE awards was physicist and former Bar-Ilan University President Prof. Moshe Kaveh who received his award in recognition of the significant change and extraordinary development of an academic institution as a result of outstanding leadership.
Retired Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner, who chaired the Award Committee, explained that when Kaveh assumed office, Bar-Ilan University focused on research and teaching in humanities and social sciences. With much determination Kaveh led a process that transformed the university into a leader in the fields of natural sciences and exact sciences, as well.
The award citation noted that the university achieved this feat due to the fact that it absorbed many Israeli scientists returning from abroad. “During Prof. Kaveh’s tenure, the university experienced unprecedented growth and development, both academically and in its physical and research infrastructure, in addition to increasing the number of students studying at the university,” it said.
The committee also noted that during Kaveh’s tenure, the university’s growth was reflected in the construction of a large new campus, which doubled the size of its existing physical facility, and in the establishment of the Faculty of Medicine in the Galilee, which the committee considered to be “the most important and meaningful national and Zionist project” that will make “a tremendous contribution to the advancement of medicine in the State of Israel in general and in the Galilee in particular, in addition to boosting educational and economic development in the Galilee and creating new jobs.”
It was also noted that Kaveh established research centers in groundbreaking disciplines: “He initiated the establishment of the multidisciplinary Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials, as well as the important Multidisciplinary Brain Research Center, as well as the School of Engineering, which later became an important and central faculty at the university for the research and teaching of many current fields of engineering.”
Kaveh was also commended for promoting a series of academic and social initiatives, such as the establishment of religious-secular dialogue groups to encourage direct communication and foster closer relations between these important sectors of society, offering education and science activities to the general public, making education accessible to Israelis living in the country’s peripheries and to the ultra-Orthodox public, promoting the status of women, and launching various projects in Judaism and Jewish heritage.
Kaveh is currently conducting research at the Institute of Advanced Technology and the Department of Physics at Bar-Ilan University, and as a visiting professor at Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge. He has published more than 300 articles in physics and has won many awards for his scientific work.
■ IN OTHER news from Bar-Ilan, Prof. Dror Fixler, director of BIU’s Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials (BINA) and Prof. Haiwon Lee, of Hanyang University in Seoul, South Korea, announced the first Korea-Israel Nanotechnology Workshop due to take place in February 2019, at which time a cooperation agreement will be signed between the two universities.
BIU already enjoys a presence in the East following the signing of a cooperation agreement with China three years ago.
Prof. Haiwon Lee was part of a delegation of leading nano institute directors from around the world visiting Bar-Ilan University to explore opportunities for research cooperation and student exchange. Other members of the delegation hailed from the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland, Lund University in Sweden, the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA, the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory in Portugal (with which BINA signed a cooperation agreement earlier this year), and McGill University in Canada.
Over the last decade and a half, initial government funding of $350 million, coupled with matching contributions, boosted nanotechnology development in Israel to unprecedented heights by enabling six of the country’s universities to establish research institutes housing 600 laboratories and facilitating the return of hundreds of scientists from abroad. More than 100 start-up companies emerged from the nano research conducted at these institutes.
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