Grapevine: Where there's a woman...

This week's social news.

A female soldier has mud applied to her face for camouflage in this photo from an IDF Instructors course in 2006. (photo credit: IDF FLICKR)
A female soldier has mud applied to her face for camouflage in this photo from an IDF Instructors course in 2006.
(photo credit: IDF FLICKR)
Was it coincidence or a deliberate choice? The International Young Israel Movement is hosting a prenuptial signing party in the Old City of Safed on Thursday, March 8, which happens to be International Women’s Day.
The purpose is to promote mutual respect and – in the event the marriage doesn’t work out – ensure there will be no problem in giving or receiving a proper get, or Jewish bill of divorce, in the most amicable manner that can be mustered under the circumstances. There will be music, mingling and food at the party, plus an overview of marriage and the importance of a prenuptial agreements presented by Rabbi Yaacov Drori and Dr. Rachel Levmore, after which couples can sign their respective agreements. For further details call Liora at 02-650-5924.
■ MARCH IS also the date on which 30 leaders and supporters of Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) from all walks of life and from across the US will arrive in Israel as the FIDF Women’s Mission gets a rare glimpse into the IDF while demonstrating its powerful support for Israel’s fighting women and men.
The mission, which continues till March 16, will bring women representing FIDF’s 20 chapters, from New England to Panama, together with IDF officers and soldiers who will give them in-depth briefings and a greater understanding of women’s roles in Israel’s defense establishment.
They will also meet with other distinguished Israelis, including former chief of staff Lt.-Gen. (Res.) Benny Gantz and former president of the Supreme Court Dorit Beinisch, along with Israeli women innovators who are reshaping Israeli society.
Unlike Israeli civilians, the mission members will get a behind-the-scenes look at strategic IDF bases and engage with women in the IDF, including fighter pilots, navigators and combat officers.
The mission will be co-chaired by Brig.-Gen. (Res.) Gila Klifi-Amir, a 30-year veteran of the IDF who served as the chief of the General Staff’s adviser on women’s affairs and handled all matters concerning women’s military service, and FIDF New England board member Sharon Mishkin.
“As a woman officer, I often found myself trying to break the glass ceiling.
When I was serving in the IDF, it felt as though this ceiling was made of concrete. But I was able to break through and open the way for future generations of women,” said Klifi-Amir. “Up until 20 years ago, women in the IDF served in a narrow range of administration and support roles. Today, 95% of all jobs in the IDF are open to women who serve as pilots, infantry soldiers, artillery combat soldiers, electronic warfare specialists and anti-aircraft and naval officers – and now Israel even has its first woman aviation squadron commander.”
■ VETERAN JERUSALEMITES will remember Stein’s bookstore in the capital’s King George Street, just two doors from the Great Synagogue.
After decades of being a city landmark, the store was sold some years ago and has since housed a dress salon, a real-estate office, an artisan’s store and more. Now it’s the new center of Chabad Rehavia, headed by Canadian-born Rabbi Yisrael Goldberg, whose flock comes mainly from Rehavia and Nahlaot, but also from other neighborhoods. Goldberg previously presided over basement premises in the Rehavia windmill, but attracted followers so quickly that there was insufficient room for congregants on Shabbat and holidays.
Fortunately, Asher Schapiro, chairman of the board of the Great Synagogue, along with president Zalli Jaffe and vice-chairman Mike Goldman, were amenable to Chabad services being held in the totally self-contained basement of the Great Synagogue, an area that is considerably larger than that in the windmill. The Board of the Great Synagogue also makes provision for a Sephardi synagogue on the ground floor. Goldberg believes that Chabad can better serve the community in its new premises, which are more visible and more easily accessible. There are a lot of young families in his congregation, and it was not easy for mothers to push perambulators and strollers down the stairs for the Shabbat kiddush and even harder to bring them up again. Access in the new center is at ground level, and in the Great Synagogue, perambulators and strollers can be left on the ground floor, even though parents still have to use the stairs to attend services.
At the windmill, they could not risk leaving perambulators and strollers on the pavement outside the complex.
Goldberg is currently taking reservations for the Chabad community Seder, from which no-one is turned away. He is also finalizing preparations for Aza Zaza, the hourly Megila readings at various Rehavia eateries, enabling everyone in the area who is interested to hear the Megila being read at a time to suit their convenience and in a more intimate environment than the synagogue, while simultaneously bringing additional business to coffee shops and restaurants.
Goldberg’s wife, Shoshana Goldberg, runs a Chabad kindergarten for which enrollments are accepted at the center.
■ PURIM COMES early in pediatric units of hospitals around the country as well as at Schneider Children’s Hospital, where members of Israel’s entertainment and sports communities always show up to bring some joy into the lives of sick children.
This is all done gratis. It gives the youngsters a thrill to see some of their favorite television personalities, singers, soccer players and basketball stars, who in turn get a kick from the happy facial expressions that their presence promote. Dr. Masaad Barhoom, director of the Galilee Medical Center, hosted the star of children’s television programs Tal Moseri in the departments of the children’s wing of the center. Moseri, who came to watch a performance by the children was greeted with glad cries by his junior fans. The visit was part of a national project in cooperation with Idan 2000.
Moseri also met with a team of doctors and nurses at the medical center and the children gave him gift baskets they created from ceramics and clay.
■ IN THE summer of 2016 a plan was drawn up for the building of a structure to support and encourage existing future cooperation in science, research and innovation between Slovakia and Israel. This plan came to fruition at the beginning of 2017 following a series of meetings between representatives of the Slovak Embassy and Israeli academia.
“We realized there is a huge potential in working together with Israel.
Slovakia is a country rich in innovative ideas and Israel has the knowhow to turn these ideas into the tangible results. We can learn from each other,” said Slovak Ambassador Peter Hulenyi. An agreement signed by Slovak President Andrej Kiska and Tel Aviv University president Joseph Klafter provides for not only exchange of know-how, but also student exchanges.
A Slovak national scholarship program for study, research, teaching and artistic residence during the 2018/2019 academic year is currently available to PhD students studying at universities and research institutions outside of Slovakia. Applicants can find detailed information about the program and the application procedure at in English, Russian, French, Spanish and in the Slovak language. The deadline for applications is 4 p.m. on April 30.
It should be remembered that Slovakia is very close to several European countries, which means that there is a plus factor for successful applicants who will be able to travel extensively during the time they spend in the country. The amount of the scholarship covers the scholarship winner’s average living costs during his or her stay in Slovakia. Travel allowance is also provided.
Austria is also interested in enhancing its academic and cultural connections with Israel and is offering an Intercultural Achievement Award with a very close March 26 deadline for applications.
The award is a key intercultural project of the Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs. The award honors successful and innovative projects in the field of intercultural dialogue, both in Austria and on a global scale. The award is open to all those who identify and make use of opportunities which positively shape intercultural coexistence. It is also designed for those who have successfully explored new pathways within intercultural dialogue, who have mastered a specific challenge through intercultural action, and who have promoted the dialogue of cultures and religions through their media presence. The award specifically promotes intercultural projects within the realms of arts and culture, youth, human rights and global citizenship education.
The projects need to be either in the process of being implemented or already concluded.
Applications are open to both non-profit organizations (including NGOs as well as associations, foundations, charitable educational institutions or religious organizations) and commercial organizations. However, governmental, scientific, research or international organizations are excluded from consideration. The main prize is EUR 10,000 ($12,200).
Other prizes are in the sum of EUR 5,000. Categories are sustainability, recent events with reference to current issues, innovation, intercultural understanding and media.
Further information is available at
[email protected]