Now that it’s definite that the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 will take place in Israel, representatives of the European Broadcasting Union Jon Ola Sand and Nadja Burkhardt, who is the Eurovision Song Contest’s executive supervisor, came to Israel this week and, together with Kan’s Eurovision production team, looked at potential sites in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Eilat. For some odd reason, Haifa was not included in the range of possibilities. In Jerusalem they looked at the Payis Arena, and in Tel Aviv at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds. They didn’t actually go as far south as Eilat, but representatives from Eilat came to Tel Aviv with a presentation and a unique construction plan that indicated that the Port of Eilat compound could be a suitable venue.
In Tel Aviv the EBU and Kan group was greeted by Mayor Ron Huldai, who was most enthusiastic about his city being a possible Eurovision destination for contestants and audiences from around the world.
Sand said that as in the past, the EBU is open to out-of-the-box solutions for anything and everything to do with Eurovision, but stipulated that the important thing is to scrupulously stick to the schedule.
■ ONE OF the most widely quoted Jews in the world today is Alan Dershowitz, professor emeritus of Harvard Law School, who on Saturday, September 1, celebrates his 80th birthday. Dershowitz is widely regarded as an expert on United States constitutional law and criminal law. His expertise in these two areas of American law make him a much sought after commentator on the future in terms of legalities of US President Donald Trump, whose civil liberties he has publicly defended, despite the acute political differences between him and Trump, thus earning a bevy of favorable POTUS tweets. Dershowitz is literally all over the media. His views are published in interviews and syndicated columns in the print media, on radio, television and the Internet.
■ EVERYONE HAS a disability of some sort, but not all disabilities are obvious, nor do all disabilities affect one’s status in society or the ability to get a job. In recent years more attention is being paid to what people with disabilities can do, rather than what they can’t do.
One of the best examples of this is at Kibbutz Kishorit in the Western Galilee, where 175 of the members are people with special needs, but who are nonetheless active in a thriving, caring community in which everyone is part of everyone else’s extended family.
Five years ago, when the General Assembly of Jewish Federations of North America was held in Jerusalem, Kishorit, whose various industries include Kishor, a prizewinning winery, operated one of the booths in the commercial section of the Jerusalem International Convention Center.
Among the people attending the GA was Amanda Weiss, the director of the Bible Lands Museum, who stopped by the Kishorit booth and purchased some wine and wooden toys. Out of that encounter grew a warm friendship between the people of the kibbutz and Weiss and her husband, Tamir Freund, who have since become keen supporters of the kibbutz and its aims.
On Wednesday night of this week, they hosted a toast to the New Year in the garden of the Bible Lands Museum to help sell Kishor wine and to make Kishorit known among their friends. Some of the members of Kishorit were in attendance along with close relatives.
Following a video presentation of life at Kishorit, Shira Reifman, who lives on the kibbutz, gave a brief explanation of how it functions, saying that over the last two years 100 mainstream families have decided to join, and their homes are in various stages of construction, with some already completed. Thus Kishorit has now become a socially integrated kibbutz.
Kishor cultivates its own grapes, from which it produces 56,000 bottles of wine per annum and exports to Europe and the US. Its gold medals at international competitions have been won on the basis of blind tastings and not out of sympathy.
The kibbutz provides vocational and employment services for its members, who can opt to work in the kibbutz or outside. There are 40 different leisure-time activities in which members can engage. There’s also a full range of mental and physical health services.
Perhaps more important than anything else is that anyone who comes to live in Kishorit knows that they have a home for life, regardless of any physical or mental deterioration; they will be treated with dignity; they will be able to realize their potential in any number of fields; and they will have independence of action, without anyone dictating to them what to do and where to go.
The video illustrated that when people with special needs are given a responsibility such as raising dogs or horses, or working in a bakery or a dairy foods production plant, they take their work very seriously and prove to be extremely reliable.
■ EVERY ANZAC Day, following a ceremony hosted by the Australian Embassy at the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery on Mount Scopus, a Jewish service is held by the small cluster of graves of Jewish soldiers who fell in battle during the First World War while fighting with the British Forces. Seldom is there a service for an individual Jewish soldier.
A significant exception was marked this week when the family of Robert Marks gathered by his tombstone to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his death. Marks died on August 28, 1918. His great niece, Rosemary Klahr, her husband, Harry, their children and grandchildren – 22 people in all – came to pay tribute to a relative whom they had never met, but whose letters, photographs and postcards sent to London from Palestine and Egypt the family continues to treasure. Like many young British men seeking adventure in the early years of the 20th century, Marks, who was not yet old enough to enlist, lied about his age and ran away to war, leaving his parents and sisters in London.
Jonny Klahr, the great-great-nephew of Marks, who spoke of the history of the war and why the British were involved, had questioned his 103-year-old grandmother, Clarice Ofstein, about what she knew of the First World War and of Marks, and she had told him that she remembered a telegram arriving on a Saturday, and that her father had been fetched from the synagogue. Presumably, the telegram notified the family of the young soldier’s death.
Rosemary Klahr, whose own grandmother was a sister of Marks, brought some of the letters and postcards that her grandmother had received from him, and the family looked at them while standing by his grave. David Klahr recited one of the memorial prayers, and Harry Klahr another. The family was pleased to have given Marks a proper Jewish memorial service.
Leaving home to serve in the army is apparently a family trait. Before the family settled in Israel, Michael, David and Jonny Klahr were all lone soldiers.
■ PEOPLE HAVE been known to travel abroad to watch major sports events or listen to a performance by a celebrated musician or singer, so why not to see a museum exhibition? That’s what brought Steve Lax, the American owner of Teva Naot, from the United States to Israel. Lax, accompanied by Michael Illouz, CEO of Teva Naot, visited the Eretz Israel Museum in Ramat Aviv, to see the “The Sandal – Anthropology of a Local Style” exhibition, which also includes a display of the history and icons of Teva Naot, which is celebrating the 70th anniversary of its establishment as the definer of Israeli traditional footwear.
Museum director Ami Katz gave his guests a guided tour of the exhibition, while Illouz added comments on the development of the brand, the special patent of the padding and the raw materials from which the shoes are manufactured.
In recent years, Teva Naot has become synonymous with Israel, with some 5,000 points of sale in more than 20 countries.
■ FANS OF Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, who wish to see her funeral Friday, August 31, can tune in to CNN or Fox News, which will broadcast parts of the event live from the Greater Grace Temple. It will also be streamlined live through the website of the global religious broadcasting service The Word Network, beginning at 10 a.m. Detroit time.
Celebrities of all genres of music are expected at the by-invitation-only event. Stevie Wonder, Faith Hill, Ron Isley, Chaka Khan, Fantasia and Jennifer Hudson are among the stars from across the range of music – gospel, pop, country, opera and R&B – who will travel to Detroit to pay homage to Franklin.
Among the political figures who have confirmed their attendance are former US president Bill Clinton, former US attorney-general Eric Holder, Gov. Rick Snyder, Mayor Mike Duggan, US Rep. Brenda Lawrence, Detroit City Council president Brenda Jones, and the revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Clinton, who was personal friend of Franklin’s, will be among the speakers at the seven-hour celebration of her life. Also among the speakers will be singer and songwriter Smokey Robinson, who was one of Franklin’s childhood neighbors.