The Jerusalem Post

Grapevine September 10, 2023: Short-term posting

 US AMBASSADOR Jack Lew speaks in Washington in 2016, when he was secretary of the Treasury. (photo credit: GARY CAMERON/REUTERS)
US AMBASSADOR Jack Lew speaks in Washington in 2016, when he was secretary of the Treasury.
(photo credit: GARY CAMERON/REUTERS)

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

By the time US Ambassador-designate Jack Lew takes office, he will have just over a year in which to make his mark in Israel, and will serve for a shorter period than his predecessor Tom Nides. Lew will be the sixth member of the Jewish faith and the fourth consecutive member to serve as US ambassador to Israel. Brief though his period will be, there were other ambassadors who served for less than two years, and Edward Djerejian, who came in 1993, served for less than one year.

The longest-serving ambassador was Walworth Barbour, who was in office from 1961 to 1973.

■ CHANGING OF the Guard. Laura Goldman, a communications attaché at the French embassy managed to attend the Bastille Day-cum-farewell reception of former French ambassador Eric Danon before she went out on maternity leave. When she came back, she had a new boss – Ambassador-designate Frederic Journes, who is one of several ambassadors-designate waiting to present their credentials to President Isaac Herzog.

■ IN ISRAEL, any excuse for a reunion is a good one: former schoolmates, veterans from the same army unit, university graduates – and then some, love to come together and reminisce. Broadcast journalist Eliezer Yaari, one of the veterans of the now-defunct Israel Broadcasting Authority, is also a documentary filmmaker. His film The Gatekeepers, which will be screened on HOT8 at the end of the month, premiered last week at Cinema City in Glilot, at a screening Initiated by Avi Angel, who is also a veteran of the IBA, and who worked on Mabat News, its central newscast. Other veterans in the audience included Yair Aloni, Dan Raviv, Dalia Mazor, Menashe Raz, and Tuvia Saar, along with other familiar faces who used to be regulars in the nation’s living rooms in the days when Israel had only one television station. Notably absent was “Mr. Television” Haim Yavin, the longtime anchor of Mabat, who was known as the Walter Cronkite of Israel. Yavin will celebrate his 91st birthday on Sunday, September 10.


■ CONGRATULATIONS ARE also in order to former president Reuven Rivlin, who turned 84 on September 9, but has delayed the celebration by a few days. He prefers the Hebrew calendar date, which is 25 Elul.

Former President Reuven Rivlin at the Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at Yad Vashem, April 17, 2023. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Former President Reuven Rivlin at the Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at Yad Vashem, April 17, 2023. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

■ THAI AMBASSADOR Pannabha Chandraramaya believes that food is one of the best ways to win friends and influence people. She has hosted several Thai events at her residence in Herzliya Pituah, in Jerusalem’s Mahaneh Yehuda Market, the capital’s Islamic Museum, and Herzliya’s Air Force club to name but a few. On September 20, she will be hosting a Thai Street Food event at her residence where Thai delicacies will be sold to the public, and proceeds donated to Alyn Hospital.

Donations for the poor

■ AS MENTIONED IN Friday’s Grapevine, requests for donations to feed the poor during the High Holy Day season have intensified. Not everyone who is poor, looks poor. Many affluent people give their hardly worn clothes to a gemach (charity organization), which distributes them for free or for a symbolic price, or to a second-hand store run by a charity organization. But that doesn’t signify that well-dressed people are strapped financially. Some are too embarrassed to go to soup kitchens, but go to the market on Friday afternoons to pick up fruit and vegetables discarded by vendors because they are no longer good enough to be sold, but are still suitable for cooking, especially for soups.

Despite the rise in the cost of living, a huge number of meals can be produced at a relatively low cost when cooking in mass quantities. Joseph Gitler, the founder and chairman of Leket, which is one of Israel’s largest distributors of food to the needy, says that 145 Rosh Hashanah dinners can be prepared for $180, if anyone wants to donate.

In any story, the individual stands out from the crowd. Gitler tells of a woman whom he calls Iris, a 49-year-old single mother, who left her abusive husband just days after her last child was born forcing her to raise her family alone.


Iris receives fresh agricultural produce and rescued hot meals through a Leket Israel local partner in Nahariya. This enables her to provide fresh, nutritious food for her children. With this challenge off her mind, she can focus on other important issues, safe in the knowledge that she is caring for her children’s well-being.

■ WITH DUE respect to Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan, his decision to sever relations with the American Society for Yad Vashem, though understandable given the reasons, was nonetheless rash. As a former Israel consul-general in New York, Dayan is well aware that in the Jewish philanthropic community, one hand washes the other, and there are very few philanthropists who give to only one cause. 

Thus his action, which has angered some of the supporters of Yad Vashem, may have a domino effect in that they will stop giving to Israel causes altogether. At a time when Israel desperately needs to mend fences with Diaspora Jewry, Yad Vashem’s reform strategy as published in The Jerusalem Post last week may have the most undesirable effect, and may drive a bigger wedge than ever between Israel and Jews abroad. 

The reported reaction of Leonard Wilf, the immediate past chairman of ASYV, is not surprising. The Wilf family has been among the most consistent and most generous supporters not only of Yad Vashem, but of Jerusalem. The Wilf imprint can be found in many projects. The Wilfs are among the last people that anyone should risk their becoming disillusioned with Israel.

■ ACCENTUATE THE positive and eliminate the negative is part of the chorus of an old hit parade song, but it’s something that the Embassy of Columbia and the Ramle Municipality have taken to heart. Let’s be honest, there are very few positive news stories emanating from Ramle. When anything is reported about Ramle, it’s usually negative. But not this time. At 5 p.m. this evening, Sunday, September 10, there will be a cultural happening at 6 Haim Laskov St. where the embassy and the municipality will inaugurate a “Meeting of Cultures,” which will evolve into a mural promoting Colombia abroad by visual artist Oscar Javier Gonzalez Sepulveda, who has been commissioned by Colombia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The mural will feature the flora of both countries as well as historical and architectural symbols.

■ THE EXPLOITS of the Armored Corps in the Yom Kippur War have become legend, and will be recounted by some of the heroes who were young soldiers 50 years ago. They will congregate in the Yad Lashiryon Amphitheater in Latrun on Wednesday, September 13. Among those in attendance, other than YKW veterans and their families, will be President Isaac Herzog, whose father, president Chaim Herzog, wrote the book War of Atonement, the Inside Story of the Yom Kippur War, and whose brother Brig. Gen. Michael Herzog, a veteran of the Yom Kippur War, who is currently Israel’s ambassador to the US, wrote an introduction to the book.

■ AN EXAMPLE of the veracity of the saying that what goes around comes around, was the invitation to the bar mitzvah of Nadav Shapiro, which evoked memories of his parents, Ilana Lipski and Aharon Shapiro, who in the dim and distant past, worked for The Jerusalem Post. Moreover, Ilana’s dad, Sam Lipski, who is one of the most eminent and esteemed broadcast and print media journalists in Australia, is a former Washington correspondent for The Jerusalem Post. He and his wife, Aura, a well-known singer and folk dancer, who operates a phenomenal website that among other things preserves the lyrics of Hebrew and Yiddish songs, will be coming from Down Under to the Holy City for the occasion, which to some extent will also be a reunion for Australian expats who at one stage or another were part of the Lipskis’ lives.

■ WHILE THERE have been and still are Jews in Britain’s House of Lords, few people would imagine that this high-class entity would host a special event on behalf of a Jewish organization. Just another proof that truth is stranger, and even stronger, than fiction.

The House of Lords recently hosted an evening honoring JLE (Jewish Learning Exchange)) which is supported by the Danielle Foundation and operates the Danielle House, a special meeting place for Jewish youth and young professionals in London that was established with the support of the Danielle Foundation.

The Danielle Foundation was established in memory of Danielle Sonneneberg, who in 2015, at age 20, was killed in a car accident. The foundation operates in Israel and abroad, supporting Jewish charitable endeavors that work to make the world a kinder and a better place.

JLE, one of the veteran organizations of Anglo-Jewry, helps young Jews who come to London from all parts of the globe to work or study, to connect with their Jewish identity through joint studies, activities, and events. At the prestigious event attended by members of the House of Representatives, ministers in the British and Israeli governments, as well as business leaders, an English translation of the book of poems written by Danielle Sonnenfeld was also launched. Some of her poems have been set to music by well-known Israeli composers and singers, among them Evyatar Banai, Amir Dadon, Ishay Ribo, Akiva, and Yonatan Razel.

Danielle’s father, Moti Sonnenfeld, was an international businessman who switched to philanthropic activities after the death of his daughter. His extraordinary activity includes ventures in health, education, welfare, and society, mainly in Israel but also in England, Italy, Lithuania, Ukraine, India, and, of course, Brazil, where Danielle was born. 

“I am thrilled by the distinguished status, recognition, and honor of the House of Lords,” he said. “The recognition of JLE and the Danielle House is a recognition of Danielle’s short, but all so significant life. She was born in Brazil, experienced immigrating to Israel with us, and was always ready to help, with a big smile and endless love for every person, no matter who they are.”