ARGUABLY ONE of the most organized temporary communities in Israel is that of the Filipino community, whose members are specialists in caregiving, because it is part of their national culture to care for the elderly and the sick.
The overwhelming majority of Filipinos are in Israel legally and when they stay longer than their work permit initially allows, it’s generally because an elderly person for whom they are caring has formed a special attachment to them and the usual practice is for the authorities to approve an extension. Members of the Filipino community also remain in close contact with their embassy and organize social, cultural and sporting events that enjoy a large attendance.
Earlier this month, more than 150 people, including representatives from the Tel Aviv municipality and members of the religious Filipino community in Israel, gathered at Hayarkon Park for the embassy’s third annual joint celebration of Labor Day and Flores de Mayo. Some 20 Filipino community organizations participated in the Flores de Mayo parade, carrying floral arches and wearing costumes representing their respective regions from their home country.
The event, organized in partnership with the Philippine Overseas Labor Office and Overseas Workers’ Welfare Office in Israel, served as the embassy’s salute to more than 25,000 Filipino workers in Israel, on the occasion of Philippine Labor Day.
Ambassador Neal Imperial took the opportunity to praise the contributions of Filipino workers to his country’s development.
In a nod to female workers, who make up more than half of the Filipino population in Israel, the ambassador explained that for the embassy, the Flores de Mayo celebration is intended as a means of honoring the particular contributions of Filipino women and mothers to the development of the Philippines.
“Here in Israel, over 70% of our workers are women, some of whom have chosen to pursue overseas work to make sure that their family’s future is secure. Today, we honor them for their sacrifice and for their love,” said the ambassador.
“You are the true force for change,” Labor attaché Cynthia Lamban told Filipino workers, before reading from Labor Secretary Silvestre Q. Bello’s message elaborating on the 2018 Labor Day theme, “A Salute to the Filipino Worker: The Pride of Our People, Our Partners for Change!”
The day’s celebrations concluded with a pot-luck picnic along the banks of the river.
■ HOW MANY English language poets are there in Israel? It’s hard to tell, because not all poets submit their work for publication and quite a few write simply for themselves, just as someone else might write a diary. However, there are several poetry groups and clubs.
One of these is called Voices Israel. It was founded in 1971 by Leslie Summers, Reuben Rose, Moshe Ben Zvi and Jacob Katwan and has grown to some 150 poets. At monthly meetings in Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem and elsewhere from Beersheba to the Galilee, poets come together to read their works. In addition, Voices Israel publishes an annual anthology and also conducts an annual competition in memory of Reuben Rose, the founding editor of the anthology.
Competition winners for 2017 were announced at a national residential workshop held in Netanya and attended by more than 30 Voices poets. The workshop included lectures by poets who explored the works of other poets, plus lectures by the three winners. Marc Radzyner, who won the first prize, presented an exploration of the poems of A.R. Ammons on the theme ‘Anything looked at closely becomes wonderful.’ Nicholas Dunne-Lynch discussed the work of Jewish poets from World War One, telling their stories and reading some of their most touching works. On a completely different theme, Prof. Shlomo Sher discussed ‘Reconciling the ‘private’ and the ‘public’ in poetry written in an era of identity politics.
Poets were then challenged to participate in writing exercises using the tools and genres learned in these very diverse presentations.
■ HOW DOES one honor the memory of a beloved daughter who was only 20 years old when she lost her life in a fatal car accident? Some bereaved parents shroud themselves in mourning and deny themselves the right to be happy again. Elio Moti Sonnenfeld opted for a more productive way to perpetuate the memory of his daughter Danielle. He creates projects and gives to existing projects in her name.
Danielle was a volunteer at the Oncology Department of Schneider Children’s hospital from where she was returning home when she was killed. Her father established the Danielle Foundation, which supports numerous educational, health, social welfare and other philanthropic projects, nearly all of which would have captured Danielle’s interest had she lived. One of the beneficiaries of the Foundation’s largesse is Bar Ilan University, which during the recent meeting of its Board of Trustees, held a gala dinner at which individuals who have made significant contributions to the growth and development of the university were honored with the Presidential Award of Distinction. Among the honorees was Mati Sonnenfeld, whose primary efforts with regard to BIU focus on expanding the psychological care and services that it provides free of charge to economically disadvantaged victims of loss and trauma. Therapy services are now offered in a special center recently renamed The Danielle Clinic within the Psychology Faculty operated by the University.
With eight therapists, The Danielle Clinic develops and offers pioneering therapy services to individuals and communities. The Clinic is also creating a feedback channel between a special study conducted by the University and the therapies implemented in the Clinic that will serve as a theoretical and clinical information hotline to be disseminated throughout psychological studies and practices by University alumni. The Danielle Clinic offers counseling and psychological support to children, adolescents and adults who suffer any form of trauma or loss.
In accepting the award, Sonnenfeld dedicated it to his daughter, saying that Danielle had been a paragon of wisdom and modesty, dedicating her life to giving to others. Even her chosen career was a form of giving. She had planned to study medicine and thus continue to help others who might be in distress.
Her father pledged that the Danielle Foundation would continue to work toward expanding Danielle’s world of loving-kindness and giving. Sonnenfeld expressed his deep appreciation to BIU president Prof. Arie Zaban and the faculty members who chose to honor him.
■ GUATEMALAN PRESIDENT Jimmy Morales who last week brought his country’s embassy back to Jerusalem, may prove to be a diplomatic trendsetter. Although Malha, where the embassy is located, is a little bit out of the way, it’s relatively easy to get to via public transportation, has spacious premises and plenty of room for a number of embassies. When he was out of office, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had his bureau there, as did Israel’s fifth president Yitzhak Navon. The Government Press Office is located there, as are several hi-tech enterprises. There are banquet facilities, and the Malha Mall is across the road. Both the Jerusalem Arena and Teddy Stadium are within easy walking distance, and the Jerusalem zoo is also close by.
There is room for expansion in the area, and Housing and Construction Minister Yoav Galant would save himself a big headache if he started exploring that part of the city as soon as possible.
■ IN JEWISH tradition, when someone dies, the person conducting the funeral service publicly releases the deceased from all obligations and from membership in any and every organization. That is part of tradition, but it doesn’t always carry over into real life.
The plan by former Labor Party strongman and king-maker Fuad (Binyamin) Ben Eliezer to run for president was nipped in the bud by allegations of fiscal improprieties and corruption. Aside from that, he was very ill, and in all likelihood would have dropped out anyway. Even if he had not stepped out of the contest and had miraculously been elected president, he would not have served a full term. He would have died after two years in office, in August 2016.
The corruption charges were dropped with his death, but the state and the taxation authorities want the money that was found in his home in Jaffa, as well as that which was found in a safe deposit box in his bank. Apparently, this money was never declared by him when having to publicize his assets both as Member of Knesset and as a candidate for the presidency.
His second wife, Dolly, who didn’t spend much time with him when he was alive, and his son Ophir from his first marriage, are battling over the money and half of the house on which the court has placed a lien. When word first surfaced that Ben Eliezer would be charged with corruption, including money laundering and bribery, Ben Eliezer swore that he was innocent and said that he would fight to clear his name.
The way things are going, it would appear that he was not absolved of all debt when he died.