Releasing women from bondage

GRAPEVINE

Movies and television dramas have long been informal vehicles for education. Viewers who find it difficult to read history books or textbooks become entranced with the story they couldn’t read when they see it played out on the large or small screen. Many secular Israelis, as well as non-observant Jews in the world at large, have developed a curiosity about life in religious Jewish communities a result of feature films and television series that explore issues confronting religious individuals and the communities in which they live. Now, a new series which began this week on KAN 11, shows a different aspect of religious life – the unfettering of women whose husbands deny them a halachic divorce. The hero of this release is Rabbi Yosef Murad, played by Aviv Alush, who is a rabbinic detective, who goes in search of cruel husbands who leave their wives chained to a marital contract by refusing to grant her a divorce, even though they no longer live together, and the husband may be living abroad and even married to someone else. Murad tracks down these recalcitrant husbands and gets them to sign a release so that their wives can get on with their lives. The chained wife, or aguna as she is usually called, is but one of several significant social issues which KAN 11 has successfully brought to public attention. ■ NOT EVERYONE wants to get out of a marriage. In fact, some want to get into a marriage before they take their next career step. Case in point is Israel’s Ambassador designate to Azerbaijan, George Deek, who this week got married to his bride, Anna, in the Greek Orthodox Church in Jaffa. Among the 1,000 guests who joined in the celebrations was well-known Jaffa personality in the field of tourism and home hospitality, Doris Hiffawi, whose family has lived in Jaffa for many decades. Hiffawi who knows the family history of the groom, said that his family has lived in Jaffa for more than 400 years. The groom, a Christian Arab, will take his bride to Azerbaijan, where they will spend the first four years of their marriage. It’s a long time for a honeymoon.

■ AT A time when many companies are making life miserable for their employees by cutting budgets and salaries and are more or less forgetting the contributions by veterans and pensioners to the company’s success, El Al, Israel’s national carrier, did the opposite. At an emotion-filled event at the Cameri Theater in Tel Aviv, El Al paid tribute to people who have given long service to the company for periods ranging from 20 to 40 years. Management, including chairman of El Al’s board of directors, Eli Dapas, CEO Gonen Ussishkin and Yehudit Grisaro, the head of human resources and in-flight services, organized a festive meal in the foyer. During the tribute ceremony attended by 250 veteran employees, Ussishkin said that it was very moving for him to have the opportunity to give due recognition to people who had served the company so faithfully, so well and for so long. He emphasized that everything that is good in El Al is to their credit.

It’s also to El Al’s credit that it has so many veteran employees. In many companies today, staff turnover is like being in a railway station. Just as one learns the name of the newcomer, he or she is gone.

Few people stay for more than three to five years in the one place of employment, and many leave much sooner.

■ FORMER CABINET ministers are well aware of how precious time can be to a senior politician who is trying to achieve a particular mission within a very limited time frame. This may account for the fact that former Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer, who is in Israel this week as a member of a high-level bipartisan delegation of former legislators, tweeted in the middle of a meeting with Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz: “With Benny Gantz who took time out from trying to form a government.”

At a wonderful get-together with the delegation at the Begin Heritage Center on Tuesday night, there were many reunions between Australian residents in Israel and relatives and old friends who came from down under to participate in a series of Australia-related events.

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Some of the people spotted in the crowd included Sam Lipski, Irene Gruber, Jack Smorgon, brothers George and Tommy Lamm and their cousin Danny Lamm, Mark, Alan and Jeremy Leibler, Paul Israel, Michael Goldsmith, Israel’s Ambassador to Australia Mark Sofer and Australia’s Ambassador to Israel Chris Cannan, Evelyn Danos, the owner of the James Richardson Duty Free store at Ben-Gurion Airport, and her Israel-based manager, Gary Stock, Ruth and Robert Epstein, Zel Lederman, Lisa Segelov and many more.

Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog, who was also present, recalled his meeting as leader of the opposition with the delegation’s leader, former Australian prime minister John Howard, who had told him that an opposition leader only has to wait his turn to become prime minister. “I couldn’t wait that long,” said Herzog, who, a year after his election to the chairmanship of the Jewish Agency, was hailed by Zvika Klein in a feature story in Makor Rishon as the “prime minister of the Jewish People.”

■ THE SHALVA Band has proved many times that if people with disabilities focus on their abilities, they can achieve amazing things.

On Friday, November 8, at the First Station in Jerusalem, the Shalva Band will help to kick off World Kindness Week. The event will include other entertainers, plus a global kindness flash dance aimed at creating awareness of the need to eliminate violence against women.

Details of Israel Jerusalem Dance for Kindness, including instructions of how to perform the dance, can be found on Facebook.

■ THE STORM in the teacup regarding a claim by Prof. Mordechai Kedar that Yigal Amir was not the assassin of Yitzhak Rabin, is frankly illogical, because for years following Rabin’s death, there were scores of conspiracy theories, many of which were published in the media. The late Barry Chamish wrote many articles and even a book based on conspiracy theories, and anyone who has the time, the inclination and the patience to go through newspaper archives and read about who influenced Amir and how evidence was distorted, will start to think that perhaps Kedar should be asked to elaborate on what he said.

After all, if he thinks the wrong man is sitting in prison, he should be telling what he knows, so that the right man will go to prison.

Then again, it’s possible that there are certain people who are also in the know and who could confirm Kedar’s claim, but don’t want to face the barrage of media attention that would follow if Kedar proves to be correct.

■ AT THE beginning of the week, President Reuven Rivlin was in Haifa to pay his respects to the Baha’i community, which is marking the 200th anniversary of the Birth of the Báb, prophet-herald of the Bahá’i faith. Rivlin also took the opportunity to tour the magnificent Baha’i Gardens and to bid farewell to Dr. Joshua Lincoln, the outgoing secretary-general of the Baha’i International Community and to meet his successor, Dr. David Rutstein.

■ FAST-TALKING super dramatic comedienne and actress Rotem Abuhav is an extremely popular figure on stage and television, but this did not impress anyone at the US Embassy when she went to apply for a visa prior to her sold-out tour of New York, Miami and Los Angeles. Abuhav is not the first Israeli entertainer to be denied a visa. It may have something to do with the strict rules that America has about working in the US without having first received a green card. But whatever the reason, Abuhav and her manager had to offer heartfelt apologies to her many stateside fans.

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