Jewish National Fund - We Only Have ONE ISRAEL

February's People

By: Gad Nashon

A delegation from the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) met with Vice President Al Gore. The new president, Martin Begun, told Gore that he represents 60 organizations in New York and 1.4 million Jews who care about immigrants and about the future of the peace process. "The U.S.A. has done more under President Clinton than under any other president in the history of the modern State of Israel," claimed Gore in response to the official JCRC's visit. (More than Jimmy Carter in Camp David?)


Danny Uziel and Ruth Goodman with Yitzhak-Leyb Volokh and his Klezmorim will present on November 30th, 8:00 p.m. at the 92nd Street Y, a special "Klezmer Night". The "desert" of this event will be the performance of "Sherele" by the Rikuday Dor Rishon dancers. Uziel, an "institution" in the Israeli folk dancing movement in America will dance and enjoy an Israeli nostalgia marathon.


Ambassador E. Ben Elissar and Congressman Ben Gilman were the guest speakers at the annual dinner of the Z.O.A. (Zionist Organization of America), which took place at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Manhattan. Recently, Bibi Netanyahu called to support this old organization.


Tullia C. Zevi, the controversial president of the Union of Italian-Jewish Communities, was the guest speaker at the Park East Synagogue. A special evening was dedicated to the issue of Italian Jews.


The unique documentary, "The Righteous Enemy", which was produced by Joseph Rochlitz, was screened recently at Temple Emanu-El. The film discusses the role of the Italian Army in saving Jews like Rochlitz's own father during the Holocaust era from the S.S. Among the speakers was Hon. Maxwell Rabb, U.S.A.'s past ambassador to Rome. Did the Italian people excel in protecting the Jews? The answer is still open for discussion.


The miraculous actor Christopher Reeve was the special guest of The American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science's "In Celebration of Science." This New York benefit gala dinner took place at The Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan. Two contributors, Frank and Carol Biondi, were honored this evening as well.


Nabila Espanioly, one of Israel's most prominent Arab feminists, who has led the struggle for the rights of Palestinian-Israeli women, received the prestigious New Israel Fund's Alice Shalvi Israel Women's Leadership Award. The Award and $5,000 was presented in Boston and Dr. Shalvi and Marian Edelman, friends of the Clintons, were guest speakers.


Herbert Zweibon, chairman of Americans for a Safe Israel (AFIS), praised in an October press release Bob Dole's suggestion to President Clinton not to put pressure on Netanyahu. Many Republicans expressed support for Israel. "Do not isolate Israel, our closest ally in the Middle East," warned Ben Gilman.


Gail Pressberg, who used to serve the P.L.O. and is now a director of Americans for Peace Now (APN), a member of the Conference of Presidents and Mark Rosenblum, a director of APN and a professor at Queens College, called on Arafat, "...to do everything within his power to control violence..." Netanyahu should, they said, re-deploy Israel's troops from Hebron and other areas of the West Bank. I do not understand why APN never even antagonized the State Department?


Remember the notion "The Elephant and the Jewish Question?" Angela Sullivan sent us a press release about the illuminating fact that the energetic elders of The Hebrew Home for the Aged at Riverdale mastered on October 9th the new popular dance The Macarena...Mazel Tov!


One day many years ago I was approached by the Dalai Lama's shadow foreign minister of Tibet. He told me, "You, the Jews, were always refugees. You should therefore understand our plights since China invaded our country in 1959. Why don't you give us a chance to establish our Buddhist center in your holy Jerusalem?" Recently, I came across a well known Rabbi, Laibl Wolf, from Melbourne, Australia, who believes that we should support the Dalai Lama because it is also a Mitzvah. Wolf had traced essential similarities between Buddhism and ... our Kabalah. Wolf turned himself to be the unofficial Rabbi of the Dalai Lama, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and admirer of the Jewish people.


"Compelling...gripping prose...haunting accounts," remarked the Publisher Weekly on Shalom Yoran's new autobiography, "The Defiant: A True Story of Jewish Vengeance and Survival" (St. Martin Press, 1996, N.Y.C.) Yoran, an Israeli who contributed to the development of the Israeli Air Force, lives on Long Island. During the Holocaust era, Yoran was a young partisan from Kurzenniec.


"Today from the bima (podium) of the largest Orthodox synagogue in the country...we meet on a very special occasion for Jews in this community...I speak, of course, of the second day of Sukkot..." The speaker who addressed the members of this Baron Hirsch Synagogue in Memphis, Tennessee, was a native son - Vice President Al Gore, who came to celebrate the holiday together with his friend Rabbi Rafael G. Grossman.


Israel Bonds honored recently two families who excelled in their contributions to the success of the Bonds' campaigns. They are Jenifer and Mark Weprin and Harriet and Daniel Blumberg. A ceremony took place at the Hillcrest Jewish Center and Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi was the guest speaker.


The Raul Wallenberg Committee in the U.S.A. produced a special play, "The Wallenberg Mission" using drama as a weapon. It was written by Nicholas Wenckheim and directed by Francine Trevens. Wallenberg saved 100,000 Jews in Budapest. His fate from 1945 is still a mystery. Today he is a legend and an international symbol of humanity and the victory over the Nazi era.


"Miraculous Living: A Guided Journey in Kabbalah Through the Ten Gates of the Tree of Life" is a new book by Rabbi Shoni Labowitz (Simon and Shuster, N.Y., 1996). Rabbi Shoni Labowitz is an inspirational Jewish renewal Rabbi and founder of the health spa "Living Waters". The Rabbi equips us with a key to healthy life: The ten gates of the Kabbalah.


J.J. Goldberg, ex- Kibbutznik, became a celebrity since he published his "Jewish Power". Senator Daniel Moynihan said, "He has made a timely contribution to our understanding of a significant topic." Mike Wallace: "...a fascinating, provocative and perceptive book." Chaim Herzog said from Israel, "This is a very significant work." And actor Richard Dreyfuss also praised the "Jewish Power".

Anne Frank, who wrote the most famous diary of our time, has turned into an international legend. In 1995 John Blair won an Oscar for his Anne Frank Remembered. The U.S.A.'s Center for Anne Frank has promoted a lecture with Miep Gies who hid Anne Frank and her family in Amsterdam from the Nazis. Frank, 15 years old, was captured at the end of the war and perished, but her famous diary survived. The Anne Frank Center has promoted many events and educational projects. Recently, it was announced by the Center that Scholastic, Inc. and the Center will produce a Diary Maker CD-Rom which will be based on the diaries of Frank Latoya Hunter and Zlata Filipovic. And, of course, expect "Anne Frank on Line" promised Grayson Covil, executive director of the Center in New York.


Jim Hunt, North Carolina's Governor, gave his blessing to a special Israeli art exhibition which recently toured his state. Arie Mekel, Israel's general consul in Atlanta and Betty Ray McCain, cultural secretary of North Carolina made this cultural exchange possible. The tour is the first result of an alliance between Israel and North Carolina created in 1995.


The famous singer Sherwood Goffen, also a great cantor and teacher, was the guest performer at the "Sukkah in the Sky" party of The American Friends of David Yellin Teachers College in Jerusalem. This prestigious college has around 2,000 students, among them Israeli- Arabs. Vice President Zahava Burack was the M.C. of the party at The Grace Building, which was organized by the Executive Director Cynthia Pelton.


Israel has enough "Tzurus" (troubles). We are always being attacked verbally or physically as well. It is still hard to be a Jew, but we learned that Nina Natelson from Alexandria, Virginia (president of CHAI, an organization concerned with helping animals in Israel) came to New York in order to demonstrate in front of the Israeli consulate! Why? She has encountered problems with the Israeli custom authorities. They imposed a $40,000 duty on her $26,000 special ambulance for treating animals in emergency situations...So she demonstrated. Perhaps it was an overreaction. Why give Israel an image of a country that is cruel to its animals? Those who supported her included Tom Lantos, Rabbi David Rosen and others.


Professor Steve Weiner is a structural biologist at Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot. He is probably the only world expert on prehistoric fires. Weiner has discovered how to identify and analyze ancient ashes, the most direct evidence of fire. His findings are based on two prehistoric caves that he discovered in northern Israel. Weiner, age 48, and South African born, recently was invited by China to research the Peking Man.


Ann Bernstein loves to pay in the experimental theatre. Therefore, she joined the cast of "Beyond Therapy", a play by Christopher Durang. It is a production at the Theatre Gym at 201 West 86th Street. This theatre was founded by Ann Bowen as a workshop for imagination. Bernstein has a long list of performances in theatre films ("Eat a Bagel"), cabarets and in stand-up comedy as well.


Rabbi Moshe Sherer is one of the most respected and modest Jewish leaders in America. He is the president of the Agudath Israel of America and a very influential spiritual leader. Recently, Sherer paid a special visit to one of his many admirers, Governor George E. Pataki. They agreed to cooperate on issues relating to ethical concerns.


Aaron Lansky, Elizabeth Swados, Art Spiegelman and Joan and Robert Arnow were the recipients of the special awards of The National Foundation of Jewish Culture. The ceremony took place November 4th at the Hudson Theatre in Manhattan. Swados, cellist Roman Mekinulov and soprano Tatiana Odinokova performed at this ceremony. Previous winners were Arthur Miller, Philip Roth and Itzhak Perelman.


Never give up hope! Rivka Bromberg, 79 years old from Rehovot, Israel had recently a very touching reunion with her lost brother, Solomon, 76 years old, from Kazan, Russian. Rivka came to Palestine in 1936 and was sure that her brother perished in the Holocaust. The miracle took place in Rehovot.


David Greven recently was awarded the Elie Wiesel Prize for Ethics. Greven is a student at Hunter College. Wiesel and Dr. Laura Schor, Hunter's Provost, participated at the award's ceremony in New York City.


Tommy P. Bear was re- elected as the International President of B'nai B'rith, the oldest and the largest Jewish organization, with members on 56 countries. Also elected as Senior Vice Presidents were Stewart S. Cohen (England), Daniel M. Frank (U.S.A.), Dr. Warren Gray (U.S.A.) and Samuel Schinazi (Brazil). Alan J. Jacobs is the new treasurer of B'nai B'rith.


Emmanuel Sela is a rich Israeli who lives in New York City and is active in Jewish organizations, especially the ones on the left, although he was smuggled into Palestine by the Irgun's illegal anti-British Aliyah organization. Of course, if am only kidding. Sela recently dedicated a model of the great synagogue in Vilna to his parents who perished in the Holocaust. The model is in the Museum of Beit Hatefutsoth (The House of the Diaspora) in Tel Aviv University, Ramat Aviv. Sela is the chairman of the American Friends of Beit Hatefutsoth. At the ceremony Sam Bloch and activist, Gad Yaacobi and Giora Goren, the director of this museum, participated.


Michael Gurin and Matt Okin, two Orthodox playwrights, wrote a religious comedy-drama called "Twist of Faith" (produced by BT Media, which promoted Torah-based Judaism and...good business). This traveling comedy features also the music of Avi Kunstler. Well perhaps its going to be a hit inside the American 3000 synagogues. And Rabbi Richard Borah, an expert on entertainment and Judaism declared, "BT Media is breaking new ground with this show..."


Milton S. Shapiro, the president of J.N.F. (Jewish National Fund) in America, and the famous leader Ruth Popkin, from Great Neck, recently presented a special plaque to President Clinton at the White House. The plaque commemorates the planting of a grove near Jerusalem in memory of Clinton's mother, Virginia Clinton Kelley.


"Jewish Medical Resistance During the Holocaust" was the main topic of the 64th International Conference of the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research. The unique event was co-sponsored by the graduate faculty of the New School for Social Research in Manhattan. Some sessions were in Yiddish. Among the organizers were Michael Alderman (Albert Einstein College of Medicine), Barnett Zumoff (Forward Association) and Allan Nadler (YIVO Institute).


We support the idea of privatization of the Israeli economy, but slowly and timely. But, often American supporters such as Dr. Robert J. Loewenberg, president of the "think tank" Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies (IASPS), tend to exaggerate as if they were promoting privatization. They also believe in a rigid and strict interpretation of Israel's economic independence. We are patriots but the nature of the 21st century is universal or cosmopolitan in nature. Any source of money should be blessed by it from profits, loans or philanthropy. Why not?


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