Even though he and his wife, Julie Fisher, have been responsible for a significant number of anti-Trump tweets, former US ambassador Dan Shapiro on Tuesday morning told Israel Radio Reshet Bet’s Yoav Krakowski that he would be pleased if US President Donald Trump receives the Nobel Prize for Peace, but added that it was too early to judge whether he deserves it.
Shapiro did not overlook the fact that his former chief Barack Obama had been awarded the Nobel Prize in 2009 for his promotion of nuclear nonproliferation and a new, positive climate in international relations – neither of which eventuated during his two terms in office.
■ IT’S COMMON knowledge that certain places in Jerusalem are to be named after Trump, linking him in perpetuity with Israel’s capital. But Jerusalem is not the only city that wants to honor him for recognizing Jerusalem for what it is and moving the US Embassy there. In Kiryat Yam, a Haifa satellite, Mayor David Even Tzur renamed the city’s ecological park Trump Park. The recent dedication ceremony was held in the presence of US Ambassador David Friedman.
■ THE VOICE of sanity. Regardless of anything else that might be happening, conversations over the past week by and large incorporated the cancellation of the friendly soccer match between Israel and Argentina. Even a Reshet Bet interview with singer Galit Giat on the release of her new single included references to the Argentinean soccer team. To which Giat responded: “I don’t know why everyone is taking it out on Messi. Why would he want to involve himself in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?” One of the Hebrew newspapers carried a cartoon of a meeting between Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with Trump saying: “If I had known that transferring the embassy to Jerusalem would cause so much trouble, I would have transferred it to Haifa.”
■ FORMER CHIEF rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has been traveling around this past week, and not just as a tourist. Following a lecture at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, he was the guest speaker at the 80th birthday celebrations of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz in Jerusalem, and went on to Haifa to receive an honorary doctorate from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology – and that’s just part of what he has been doing.
It’s extremely appropriate for him to be in Israel at this time, given that he, too, is celebrating his 70th birthday year. Sacks was born two months prior to the creation of the state.
■ MEMBERS OF the International Women’s Club become ambassadors for Israel, Louise Beschoor Plug Wesseling, the wife of the Dutch ambassador and the outgoing president of the IWC, said this week at the organization’s annual general meeting, at the Herods Hotel on the Herzliya Marina. She reeled off the numerous activities of the various IWC committees and praised each committee member by name for doing “a fantastic job.”
IWC activities include discovery tours of Israel, lectures, exploration of the arts, culture, science and technology, a book club, cooking classes that include ethnic cuisine from different countries, gardening, keeping fit, dancing (including folk dancing), and a choir directed by former IWC president Tsippi Ben-Sheffer. There’s also a lot of hospitality and friendship, plus most of the above for French, German, Italian and Spanish speakers, so that they will feel more comfortable in the languages they understand best.
Beschoor Plug Wesseling said that, basically, she’s shy, but after a year as president of the club, she has no problem with public speaking. She had been fascinated by some of the club’s ventures into insider’s Tel Aviv, and in the coming year, when she no longer has presidential responsibility, she intends to spend a lot of time in Tel Aviv, veering off the beaten track to learn some of its secrets.
Incoming president Maxine Levite said that many of the international members of the club had come with the fear that they would find Israel daunting, but instead had quickly adjusted and made new friends, and were so much at home in Israel that when the time came to leave, they shed tears. As someone who lives in Israel, she is grateful for the opportunity to meet and befriend so many new people from around the world, and to share in experiences that she would not have had otherwise. In its heyday, the IWC membership was in excess of 400 women from Israel and abroad. According to membership chairwoman Tziona Primor, current membership totals 305, compared to 280 in 2017. Of the current membership, 193 are Israelis and 112 are from the international community.
A few days prior to the general meeting, the IWC held one of its charity events by way of a bazaar, this time in association with Women4Women. The highly successful event at the residence of the Nigerian ambassador and his spouse, Kaneng Dusu Duchi, was in aid of one of Israel’s 14 shelters for battered women. Some of the IWC members had met previously with Ruth Resnick, founder of Shelters for Battered Women and current chairwoman of No to Violence Against Women, and had learned that the local shelter was in dire need of an industrial refrigerator and additional beds. Resnick attended the bazaar, as did Herzliya Mayor Moshe Fadlon, who drew the winning raffle tickets. Proceeds from the bazaar amounted to NIS 17,300.
■ THE NEW family structure of same-sex couples also leads to the bending of rules in one-sex organizations. Thus Aldo Henriquez, the spouse of British Ambassador David Quarrey, is the first (and so far the only) man to be admitted to the International Women’s Club, and although he’s not the first man to be admitted to the Diplomatic Spouses Club, he is the first to be elected to serve as its president. The big question is will men be as welcoming to a woman who wants to join an all-male club?
■ INDIA’S DEPUTY Chief of Mission in Israel, Dr. Anju Kumar, is excited about the upcoming 4th International Day of Yoga to be held at Tel Aviv Port on June 21, beginning at 6:15 p.m. and continuing for three-and-a-half hours. June 21 is the longest day of the summer solstice and was adopted in 2014 as the International Day of Yoga by way of a United Nations resolution sponsored by India and co-sponsored by 177 member nations. Since then, the day is celebrated worldwide with Indian diplomatic missions around the globe taking the lead in organizing events.
The event is being organized in collaboration with Culture and Sport Ministry, the Tel Aviv Municipality, Tel Aviv Port, Reebok, Ella Yoga, Yoga Teachers Association and Air India. Highlights of the program include: a performance of Indian classical music, sun salutations and ashtanga yoga practice by a renowned Indian yoga teacher, Vijay Amar, an official ceremony attended by Indian Ambassador Pavan Kapoor and Israeli dignitaries, common yoga protocol practice by Carrie Owerko, a senior yoga teacher from the US, and an Indian dance performance by Arun Kalakshethra and his dance group. Participation is free of charge and suits all yoga level practitioners, who are invited to bring mats and enjoy the spirit of yoga.
Organizers say that in today’s world of stress and conflict at several levels, Yoga brings a message of health, harmony, constructive and focused thinking and holistic well-being. For more details on the International Day of Yoga: https://ww.facebook.com/events/172049570165920/.
■ MANY SYNAGOGUES in Europe were fully or partially destroyed by the Nazis. In Eastern Europe, those synagogues that survived the war were by and large taken over by Communist regimes and converted into factories, community centers, theaters, music halls, and so forth.
Where Jewish communities survived in relatively large numbers in other parts of Europe, synagogues were renovated or rebuilt, but where Jewish communities had been decimated, surviving synagogues were used for other purposes, or sometimes destroyed to make way for residential complexes.
The Hasdey Enosh Synagogue, which was built in 1901 and served the Jewish community of Torburg in the Netherlands, was inadvertently destroyed in 1945, when the British bombed the Nazi-occupied area. An exact replica of the synagogue was built in Mevo Horon, a religious moshav, near Latrun in the Mateh Binyamin region of the West Bank. The moshav was established in 1970. On Tisha Be’av last year, its Beit Tzirim Synagogue was destroyed in a fire, and the Torah scrolls were badly charred. In the interim, construction commenced on a replica of the Hasdey Enosh Synagogue, based on plans and old photographs salvaged from Holland.
Also salvaged from another destroyed synagogue was the magnificent ark, which miraculously remained intact and had been kept for years in the attic of a church. It was discovered by some truck drivers who brought humanitarian supplies to the area, and they in turn brought it to the attention of a Dutch Jew by the name of Mottel Aharonson. Realizing that the only permanent place for the ark was in Israel, Aharonson waged a public campaign to have it transferred. The ark is now in the new synagogue in Mevo Horon.
The original synagogue had 71 seats, and Lavi Industries on Kibbutz Lavi was commissioned to duplicate them. Lavi Industries specializes in producing synagogue interiors for Jewish communities around the world. Micha Oberman, the CEO of the company, tries whenever possible to attend the inauguration ceremonies of the synagogues that the company has helped to enhance. Thus, it was natural for him to be at the inauguration of the replicated Hasdey Enosh.
■ IN CELEBRATION of the transferring of the rotating presidency of the Visegrad Group from Hungary to Slovakia, Peter Hulenyi, the ambassador of Slovakia, will next week host a culture and science concert in the music auditorium of Bar-Ilan University. The Visegrad Group, also known as V4, is a cultural and political alliance between the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland. The concert, under the heading of “Holding Hands,” will feature musicians Hagai Shaham, violin, Arnon Erez, piano, Eszter Farkas, cimbalom, and Mira Farkas, harp, who will play Polish, Czech and Slovakian classical pieces.
■ INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S Day is traditionally celebrated in the first week of March, but as far as IDC Herzliya is concerned, it might just as well be in the first week of June. In what may well be an unprecedented step by a co-ed institute of higher learning, IDC Herzliya’s founder and president, Prof. Uriel Reichman, last week conferred honorary fellowships on seven leading figures who collectively represent Zionism, entrepreneurship, social responsibility, academia, philanthropy and business acumen. Ordinarily such a group, be it for the conferment of honorary doctorates or honorary fellowships, would include one or two token women, but the rest of the group would be overwhelmingly male. This time, they were all female and were honored in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the State of Israel, the Jewish people and IDC Herzliya.
The honorees were: Daphna Cramer, philanthropist and supporter of excellence in academia; Liora Ofer, prominent businesswoman and philanthropist; Dr. Judith Richter, founding partner at Medinol and a leading medical innovator; Prof. Michal Schwartz, groundbreaking researcher, department of neurobiology, Weizmann Institute of Science; Loralee West, philanthropist; Maj. (res.) Roni Zuckerman, the first female fighter pilot in the Israel Air Force and granddaughter of Warsaw Ghetto Resistance fighters and founders of Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot Antek Zuckerman and Zivia Lubetkin, who is currently vice president of engineering, operations and purchasing at an energy company; and Yael Arad, social entrepreneur, first-ever Israeli athlete to win an Olympic medal, member of the Olympic Committee of Israel, businesswoman and an IDC Herzliya alumna.
Reichman said that this highest recognition given by IDC was awarded to seven women not for being women, but because of their background and achievements. “In past years this title was awarded to both men and women. This year, we decided to give this recognition only to women because it includes a message that the Israeli society still needs. The time of any kind of discrimination against one group or another in society has passed, and IDC now stands against elements that still exist in Israeli society, who wish to take us back to earlier times and to enforce an archaic and unacceptable world of concepts.”
■ FOR PEOPLE who are busy the rest of the week, Friday morning and afternoon entertainment is a real boon. The Friday afternoon performance last week of Soul Doctor at the Hirsch Theater at Beit Shmuel in Jerusalem attracted a full house, but people had to wait around in the foyer for quite a long time till the doors were opened. While there is a lot of seating in the foyer, it was insufficient for the many elderly people who came on crutches, with walkers and canes, and were forced to stand because no one was willing to give up their seat to them. Management should be prepared for such eventualities and have a cluster of folding seats available.
The lack of consideration for people with mobility problems was ironic, given that Soul Doctor is a fictionalized account of the early life of Shlomo Carlebach the singing rabbi, who was considerate of everyone. Carlebach was indeed a soul doctor, but the production, though highly entertaining, with some really great one-liners, had no soul at all. Though its star, Josh Young, has a much better singing voice than Carlebach, his renditions of Carlebach’s best-loved melodies were soulless, and not just because the lyrics had been translated into English. The musical arrangements were very un-Carlebach. There are many young singers who were toddlers or not yet born when Carlebach died in October 1994, but they have captured his sound and his soul. Young, despite his admirable vocal range, did not.
Nor did he sound remotely like Carlebach in the speaking parts. Carlebach spoke to the public with a gentle sense of awe, as if everything around him was miraculous, and he wanted the people whom he was addressing to share in that awesome feeling. Young used Carlebach’s language, but not his vocal cadence.
Fiction of course, has unfettered license, but if dealing with real people, it should not create inaccurate impressions. From this production, it could be assumed that Carlebach had been an only child. But he wasn’t. He had a twin brother, Eli Chaim, who had no less a brilliant mind than Shlomo, and also engaged in outreach but in a different manner. Eli Chaim and his wife, Hadassah, were known for their hospitality, and a Sabbath meal in their home was the first Jewish experience for many totally assimilated young Jews who later became members of Congregation Kehilat Jacob on New York’s Upper West Side of Manhattan, which was and is still known as the Carlebach Shul. It was previously run by their father, Rabbi Naphtali Carlebach. After his death, the twin brothers ran the synagogue together. There was also a sister, Shulamit.
Unfortunately that branch of the long Carlebach rabbinic dynasty finished with the twins. Eli Chaim, who died in 1990, had five daughters and no sons, and Shlomo had two daughters and no sons. Despite all the good work that Shlomo Carlebach did in bringing young people back to Judaism at various levels of observance, there were and are Carlebach detractors. For them, Soul Doctor actually has some deep insights into what motivated Carlebach to devote his life to the ingathering of Jews both in the lands of their dispersion and in the State of Israel. Charlotte Moore, who played Shlomo’s mother, Pessia, who was known to be a very domineering personality, conveyed that image perfectly.
■ HADASSAH, THE Women’s Zionist Organization of America, is headquartered in New York. When he was mayor of the Big Apple, Rudy Giuliani used to see quite a lot of members of the Hadassah executive, so it was natural that on his visit to Israel this past week he should pay a visit to the Hadassah Medical Organization in Ein Kerem, which he had visited several times previously. Giuliani and his partner, Dr. Maria Ryan, CEO of Cottage Hospital in Woodsville, New Hampshire, took an extended tour of the hospital and were particularly interested in getting an update on Hadassah’s management of terrorist events. “This hospital is a blessing,” said Giuliani. “I have been here so many times to see the tragic consequences of terrorism. It’s wonderful to be here and see the good you do. Count me among your supporters.”
Giuliani was escorted on the tour by Prof. Yoram Weiss, director of Hadassah Ein Kerem, and Barbara Goldstein, deputy director of Hadassah offices in Israel. In the Swartz Center for Emergency Medicine Shock Trauma, Giuliani and Ryan viewed the protective doors and windows that can seal off the area, as well as the secluded VIP trauma room where dignitaries get additional security.
Chief of surgery Prof. Alon Pikarsky reviewed the protocols developed at Hadassah and used successfully for treating mass casualties. Pikarsky explained how the most experienced surgeon does the initial triage when patients arrive, in contrast to many medical centers where triage is done by a resident. “Sending each patient for the correct treatment is the key to saving lives,” said Pikarsky.
A highlight of the visit was a reunion with terrorism survivor Dvir Musai, 29, whom Giuliani met 16 years earlier, when, as mayor of New York, he visited at Hadassah after Dvir, then 13, was gravely wounded in a terrorist attack. Musai had been on a school outing to pick cherries, when he stepped on a mine placed by a terrorist. He has since undergone more than 30 operations at Hadassah Hospital.
“I’m here, standing on my own two feet, having served in the IDF, happily married and a father of two,” said Musai. “I remember your visit, understood you were important, and felt strengthened by the support you gave me. I’m so honored to meet you today.”
Musai currently works as the facilitator of the Hadassah Herzstein Heritage Center and speaks to hundreds of groups in Israel and abroad.
Giuliani enclosed him in a bear hug, saying: “I’m privileged to see you again.”
Aside from all the medical information they absorbed, Giuliani and Ryan wanted to look at the Chagall windows before they left. Goldstein, who has told the story of the windows so many times to so many VIPs that she could recite it in her sleep, was happy to do the honors yet again.
■ THE ISRAEL Medical Association has honored Prof. Francis Mimouni, chief of neonatology at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center, for his contribution to the treatment of premature babies in Israel. The IMA every four years recognizes a physician in a particular field of medicine who has left his or her imprint on research and therapy, in the particular field in which he or she is engaged. Several of Mimouni’s initiatives have been translated into standard practice, and these were cited at the awards ceremony.