Grapevine: Wishing Nechama good health

Movers and Shakers, how Israeli people shape the places of this country.

Nechama Rivlin looking through a graphic novel based on The Diary of Anne Frank. (photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
Nechama Rivlin looking through a graphic novel based on The Diary of Anne Frank.
(photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
With all the good wishes expressed this week for the speedy recovery and restoration of good health of Nechama Rivlin, the president’s wife should be up and running any time soon.
The opening remarks by delegations of the political parties that came to the President’s Residence to recommend a member of Knesset who they think most capable of forming the next government were invariably related to Nechama Rivlin.
Not only did the leader of every delegation who met this week with President Reuven Rivlin convey good wishes, but every person from all 11 delegations who spoke during the meeting with the president did the same.
It didn’t end there. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the ceremony in which he received his fifth mandate to form a government, added his good wishes as well.
Rivlin said he had been very moved by the general concern for his wife’s health and well-being following a lung transplant.
■ IN NOVEMBER 2014, Nechama Rivlin accompanied the president when he visited the WIZO home for battered women in Jerusalem. She was both impressed and shocked. She was impressed by what WIZO does to help the women regain their self-esteem and their independence, and she was shocked by some of the stories she heard about the abuse the women had suffered from their husbands. She would be very pleased to know what a great pick-me-up the current residents of the shelter received this week by way of a model Seder, albeit not in the literal sense. To buoy their spirits for Passover, the women were visited by 20 leading fashion models, plus hair and makeup artists from ITM, one of Israel’s foremost modeling agencies.
Among the models was Maria Domark, who has 1.2 million Instagram followers. The match between ITM and WIZO was struck not in the Holy City or even Tel Aviv, but long distance in the Big Apple, by WIZO USA Co-President Mireille Manocherian and ITM International Director Danielle Cohen, who subsequently worked in cooperation with Rinat Leon-Lange, the director of the shelter. While ITM’s hair and makeup specialists conducted a styling and makeup session for the mothers of the shelter, the models kept the children busy with gifts, games, a tie-dye workshop, fancy balloons and more. The youngsters fell in love with Jackie, the cute puppy that belongs to model Naomi Eliav, and had a great time playing with it. The day concluded with a festive meal of schnitzel and sushi provided by the models.
WIZO’s shelters for battered women in different parts of the country are a six-month haven of safety and security for women and children who have suffered at the hands of abusive husbands and fathers. Many of the youngsters suffer trauma, and they and their mothers undergo individual and group therapies to prepare them for a violence-free independent life. If they are still in need of help they can stay longer than six months. There is also a sense of camaraderie among the residents as they are all able to empathize with each other. They also share some of the cooking traditions of their diverse backgrounds.
The visit by the models added some glamour to the lives of the residents, though many are glamorous in their own right, regardless of their difficult marriages. The models were actually emotionally moved by the experience. Not only were they doing well, but they were learning about a side of life with which most were not familiar.
“I can’t express what it means to me to spend time with these wonderful women and their amazing children who have been through so much,” said model Eden Fines.
At one point, a nine-year-old girl of Ethiopian background who was at the shelter with her mother, asked a dark-skinned model whether she was Ethiopian. When the model replied in the affirmative, a big grin spread across the child’s face, as she imagined that one day, she too might be a model.
■ WHO WAS Israel’s second prime minister? For some inexplicable reason, history has relegated Moshe Sharett to the sidelines, even though he was a remarkable intellectual and a diplomat who left his mark not only on the evolution of Israel, but on dramatic changes in South Korea as well. He was the country’s first foreign minister, having grown up in Israel after arriving from his native Ukraine in 1894, at the age of 12. Members of his family were among the founders of what became Tel Aviv, which this year celebrates its 110th anniversary, having been founded on April 11, 1909. Now, Sharett’s diaries are available in English. Published by the Indiana University Press and edited by historian Neil Caplan and Yaakov Sharett, a retired diplomat who manages his father’s archives, the book, titled My Struggle for Peace, is a three-volume abridgment of Sharett’s original eight-volume published work Yoman Ishi (Personal Diary), which was written in Hebrew.
Covering 1953-1956, the book offers readers remarkable insights into the complex workings of the political system in the young State of Israel against the background of the fragile armistice.
No one is perfect and this comes across in Moshe Sharett’s candid comments about the political leaders of his era. With hindsight, people who actually remember Sharett realize that a sensitive, dedicated and talented public servant was not given the opportunity to serve Israel as he would have liked to do. In reading the diary, they will realize that Israel’s story could have evolved in a more positive manner, if more notice had been taken of a first-class statesman and diplomat for whom moderation was a guideline.
■ COMMUNICATIONS EXPERT Yariv Ben-Eliezer, who is arguably the best known of first prime minister David Ben-Gurion’s grandchildren, is unfortunately a diabetic whose condition has necessitated the amputation of both his legs, though not at the same time. Ben-Eliezer is known to be an optimist, and so long as his brain is working, he can overcome everything else.
■ FRENCH AMBASSADOR Hélène Le Gal this month conferred France’s highest academic decoration on two Bar-Ilan University professors of French culture. Prof. Gary D. Mole and Prof. Silvia Adler are now knights of the Order of Academic Palms, a decoration introduced by Napoleon I in 1808 as a means of giving recognition to outstanding academics. Le Gal hosted a reception at her residence in Jaffa in honor of the occasion.
“These decorations acknowledge the wonderful merits of two persons who dedicated their professional careers and personal lives to the promotion of the French language and literature in Israel,” said Le Gal. “They also highlight a genuine passion for French culture and the human values it embodies.”
Mole’s research focuses on French and Francophone literature culture, and thought of the 20th and 21st centuries, with particular emphasis on the relations between literature, violence and modern warfare, and the problematic relations between aesthetics and ethics. Adler is a professor of linguistics. Her research interests lie in the area of syntax, semantics and pragmatics, in particular: ellipsis, anaphora, linguistic economy, prepositions, prepositional quantification, scalarity and general unspecific nouns. Her current research interest also includes strategies of meaning-making. Mole said it was a great honor to have more than 30 years of service to French culture recognized by the French republic.
Adler said that when she was notified that she was to receive the award, she reexamined her journey through academia – as a student and as a faculty member – and her connection as a linguist to the French language and to French culture in its context. She had reached the conclusion that for her the study of the French language is a calling – perhaps because it’s not her mother tongue.
“I embarked on an armed adventure with very little French,” she said. “It is important for me to convey a message to the students in our department that language fluency is not a dream, even when the starting point isn’t optimal.”
■ THE EVER energetic Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, the former Ashkenazi chief rabbi, is thinking of selling his spacious home in Tel Aviv’s upscale Sharett Street and purchasing an apartment a couple of blocks away on Smuts Boulevard opposite the Heichal Moshe synagogue, where he is the spiritual leader. As it is, the Lau home can no longer accommodate all the members of his immediate family. The three sons and five daughters that he and his wife Chaya-Ita brought into the world have presented them with 60 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren with more on the way. The youngest survivor of Buchenwald, whose older brother, Naphtali, carried him in a potato sack on his back, is living evidence of the miracle of the Jewish people. He and Naphtali were the only members of their family in Poland to survive. The little boy in short pants who arrived in the Land of Israel in 1945, and was taken in by relatives here, became a 38th-generation rabbi, and with his wife produced three generations of an ever-increasing family. To do this in a period of less than 60 years makes the story of Adam and Eve as the parents of all humanity, much more believable. Lau turns 82 on June 1, and during that month will also celebrate the 60th anniversary of his engagement.
[email protected]