- Written by Silvia G Golan
(Jerusalem, November 10, 2019)—The Israel-Hellenic Forum will hold its first gathering from Nov. 12 to Nov. 14 in Jerusalem. The meeting will be moderated by Daniel S. Mariaschin, CEO of B’nai B’rith International and the initiator of B’nai B’rith’s Bi-Annual Leadership Mission to Greece, Cyprus and Israel, and George N. Tzogopoulos, senior research fellow, Centre International de Formation Européenne (CIFE); research associate, Begin Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA); and lecturer, Democritus University of Thrace. More than 30 prominent journalists and academics from Greece and Cyprus will take part in the historic meeting.
The festive opening session of the forum meeting that will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 12, at 21:00 at the Prima Park Hotel, Jerusalem, will be open to the press by advance registration. The session will feature presentations by Hon. Thessalia S. Shambos, ambassador of Cyprus to Israel; professor Dimitris Keridis, MP, Greek Parliament; and Ioannis Kasoulides, former foreign minister of Cyprus.
Sessions include the strategic importance of the Mediterranean democratic bloc; the regional economy; the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; national security policy under Israel’s new government; the relationship between Israel and the United States; innovation, tourism and humanitarian aid; the emerging new paradigm in Israel’s relationships with Arab states; and Greek-Jewish relations.
Established by the B’nai B’rith World Center – Jerusalem, the Israel-Hellenic Forum is envisioned as a setting for discussion and action by Israeli, Greek, Cypriot and related academics, intellectuals and other public figures who have shown support in the public sphere for the burgeoning relationship solidified in recent years between these three countries – reflected in the regular tripartite meetings between their leaders and the flourishing state-to-state relations. The forum was created in close consultation with B’nai B’rith in Greece and with Israeli experts.
The meeting and further actions – including the creation of an online publication – will be developed in cooperation with the participants, with the aim of also addressing lingering prejudices and other obstacles to greater acceptance among the peoples of these three democracies in the eastern Mediterranean.
B’nai B’rith has long been dedicated to Greek-Jewish relations and has maintained a local chapter in Greece for more than 100 years. In just the last six years, we have held three international conferences in Israel focused on security and strategic developments in the eastern Mediterranean, with senior Greek and Cypriot participation (the next conference is planned for Washington, D.C.); we led three leadership missions to Greece, Cyprus, and Israel in partnership with the American Hellenic Institute (AHI), the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; and we held a conference in Sparta that focused on Jewish-Hellenic relations in antiquity.
B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem Director Alan Schneider said, “It is our firm belief that the challenges facing Israel, Greece, and Cyprus make it incumbent upon those who seek to promote a peaceful, inclusive and tolerant eastern Mediterranean to promote this notion to civil society, in academia and to the public at large.”
B’nai B’rith International has advocated for global Jewry and championed the cause of human rights since 1843. B’nai B’rith is recognized as a vital voice in promoting Jewish unity and continuity, a staunch defender of the State of Israel, a tireless advocate on behalf of senior citizens and a leader in disaster relief. With a presence around the world, we are the Global Voice of the Jewish Community. Visit www.bnaibrith.org
Photo From right to left: The United States Ambassador to Israel, David Freidman; Alan Schneider, Director of B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem and Dr. Haim Katz, chairman B'nai B'rith
Photo provided by B’nai B’rith World Center – Jerusalem
- Written by David Goland & George Prajza
An unforgettable concert was held at Enav Cultural Center in Tel Aviv in honour of the Bulgarian Day of the National Leaders.
The event, a Bulgarian holiday usually celebrated on 1st of November, took place in Israel, on Tuesday, 5 November 2019 , under the auspices of the Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria to the State of Israel, and the Bulgarian Cultural Center in Israel.
This special day in Bulgaria honours the work of Bulgarian leaders who have enlightened and revolutionized Bulgaria's national spirit, her values, and the pursuit of education and literature. These leaders have created and preserved the spiritual values of the nation.
The event also paid tribute to the brave actions of gentile Bulgarian Righteous Among the Nations who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. An extensive list of clergy and lay Bulgarian citizens was presented, describing their life-saving actions.
The entertainment consisted of a wonderful, mesmerizing concert by The Wladigeroff Trio. All three are members of the Wladigeroff family: Ekaterina on the piano, Alexander on the clarinet and piano, and Konstantin on the trumpet, flugelhorn and hand-percussion, and they all sing as well. They were born in Sofia to the family of the eminent choir-master and composer Alexander P. Wladigeroff.
The three have graduated from the National Academy of Music “Pancho Wledigeroff” in Sofia, as well as from the University of Music and Stage Art in Vienna. For over ten years now they have lived and worked in Vienna. Their projects showcase the tradition of music in the Wladigeroff ffamily and its development over three generations. In addition to the classic works written by their genius grandfather, professor Pancho Wladigeroff (1899-1978), their repertoire included works from his Berlin's period, which are considered as some of the first Jazz works in Bulgarian music.
Among the musical pieces that the trio performed were a brilliant foxtrot jazz piece from Berlin, a variations on a Jewish musical theme, a three-movements ("watercolours") work that ended with a melancholy movement and then a contrasting feisty dance. The trio performed also a rare arrangement for the familiar Hora Staccato and then a masterpiece of a medley that included tunes from Beethoven's Ode to Joy from the ninth symphony, and Ravel's Bolero.
The audience went crazy with enthusiastic applause that left no choice for the Trio, but to come back with an encore. They came back on stage with a Klezmer style piece playing intricate variations, with various muffled trumpet sounds, and Konstantin playing both, the trumpet and the flugelhorn simultaneously (!), as Alexander was strumming the piano strings with his fingers.
The audience was swept along with the trio, singing and clapping in a true celebration.
In attendance were Ambassadors , representatives of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as all the leaders of the Bulgarian Jews organizations in Israel.
Photos by David Goland and George Prajza
- Written by Steven Aiello
The 2019-2020 MUN circuit opened in Israel with the PeaceMUN conference on Wednesday, September 25, 2019. Nearly 100 youth from Akko, Holon, Iksal, Lod, Mefalsim, Nahariya, Petah Tiqva, Shefaram, Sde Eliyahu, and other cities around the country met at the American Center Jerusalem for a full day of debating and negotiating around the theme of “Insurgencies.”
Two beginner groups discussed the conflicts in the Sinai between Islamists and the government of Egypt, and in the Philippines between communists and the government of the Philippines, while a third committee of advanced students addressed the Anglophile-Francophile conflict in the Cameroon. Students, most who were first time MUN participants, researched, planned strategies, and then engaged in an intensive day of problem-solving before voting on their resolutions.
At the end of the day all delegates received Certificates of Participation as well as feedback from their chairs. The awards were then presented in the awards ceremony. Dr. Yehuda Stolov from the Interfaith Encounter Association spoke to students about the opportunities for continuing interactions, and Felicity Aziz welcomed students to the American Center Jerusalem.
In the UNGA committee, Maria Kaabiya, Nitzan Saban, and Samar Khateeb were chosen Outstanding Delegate, while Michal Ben Haim was the Best Delegate. In the HRC committee, Basma Assi, Ido Pogrund and Laila Amory received Outstanding Delegate, and Ido Vaktor was awarded Best Delegate. In the Security Council, Amit Ram and Hosni Grere were the Outstanding Delegates, and Eliran Ben Yair was chosen as Best Delegate.
Reema Shalabi, from Iksal, was participating in her first MUN. She told Diplomacy that as her first conference, “it was amazing...one of the best experiences in my life. I enjoyed every minute, and would like to do it again.” Eyal Amsalem, from Nahariya, was another first time delegate. Eyal added that while he had been shy initially, “after the first hour, I felt better and understood everyone there. At the end of the day, I was very happy that I came and knew that I was going to continue to attend more MUN conferences.”
The next MUN conference will be QassemMUN, on November 7th, 2019 at the Kfar Qassem Comprehensive School. For more information please see DebateforPeace.org
- Written by Bahá’í World News Service
BAHA’I WORLD CENTRE, 25 October 2019, (BWNS) — Terraces cascading down the mountainside were illuminated as thousands of residents of Haifa and surrounding cities and villages walked through the Baha’i gardens at night. At the midpoint of the terraces, the iconic Shrine of the Bab beamed brightly as a symbol of hope and peace.
This two-night special program was attended by more than 16,000 people earlier this month, and today community leaders from Haifa participated in a more intimate gathering that included a walk down the terraces to the sacred Shrine.
Around the world, people are preparing for the bicentenary of the birth of the Bab. To mark that historic anniversary at the Baha’i World Centre, the gates to the terraces on Mt. Carmel, normally open to the public only in the daytime, were opened on two evenings, 16 and 17 October. People from all walks of life—among them Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Druze—attended the special occasion. Haifa, home to the Shrine and terraces, is known for its long history of communal harmony.
Visitors had the opportunity to inquire about the Baha’i Faith, its history, and the bicentenary as they walked the terraces and entered the magnificent domed Shrine, where the remains of the Prophet-Herald of the Baha’i Faith have been laid to rest. Many also entered the Shrine to pray and meditate.
Around the Shrine, the evening was characterized by a spirit of reverence, as children and adults silently entered to pray. Many expressed deep spiritual feelings inside the Shrine.
“All I can say is that it is as if this place is like a piece of heaven. It’s like God has taken a piece of heaven and dropped it here,” said one resident who lives near the terraces.
“I wish I could stay on the terraces for the whole night,” expressed another visitor.
“One more time! One more time!” a four-year-old girl insisted to her parents after another visit to the Shrine.
Today, commemorations continued with a reception that hosted 200 people, among them Haifa Mayor Einat Kalisch-Rotem, public servants, university officials, and civil society actors. The program included a film about the life of the Bab and remarks by the Secretary-General of the Baha’i International Community in Haifa.
After the reception, participants walked down the terraces from the top of the mountain, ending their journey at the Shrine.
Photo Bahá’í World News Service
- Written by President’s Spokesperson’s Office
President Rivlin today decorated his Sukkah and invited Israelis to come and visit during the Open Sukkah event in intermediate days of Sukkot, this year on the theme of ‘Finding Treasures in the President’s Sukkah’
“Come and visit the Sukkah of peace and togetherness. The president’s Sukkah is the Sukkah of all Israelis. We are looking forward to seeing you!”
President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin today, Thursday 10 October / 11 Tishrei, decorated his Sukkah with children of members of the Beit HaNasi staff and second- and third-grade pupils from Yavneh school in Hadera, which runs program to strengthen literacy and language skills designed by the Israel Center for Educational Innovation. The event was held ahead of the Open Sukkah during the intermediate days of Sukkot, which will happen in the gardens of Beit HaNasi as it does every year, during which thousands of Israelis will visit the Sukkah on 17 October / 18 Tishrei from 10:00 – 16:00.
“Come and visit the Sukkah of peace and togetherness, where everyone belongs and which belongs to everyone,” said the president, inviting Israelis to visit the Sukkah. “Beit HaNasi is the people’s home, and the president’s Sukkah is the Sukkah of all Israelis. We welcome everyone and are looking forward to seeing you!”
The theme of this year’s Open Sukkah at Beit HaNasi is ‘Finding Treasures in the President’s Sukkah’, in cooperation with the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage. During their visit, people will be able to enjoy a range of activities for all the family and will receive a personal souvenir. During the day, the president will come out and greet visitors at different points. The event is open to all and is free of charge.
Among the activities during the day are a meeting with Theodor Herzl on the famous balcony in Basel, including a photo opportunity. Visitors can also uncover archeological remains and sieve earth that has been dug out of archeological sites around Jerusalem. The public is invited to bring with them pictures and letters from personal or family collections that will be scanned and added to the holdings of the National Archives in order to enrich the holdings from different era of the history of the Land of Israel. Another activity allows visitors to experience a virtual reality film where they can visit the Western Wall, the Temple Mount and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Stalls for engraving on antique coins will also be available. The president’s Sukkah will be decorated in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and this year’s theme is grapes, both for eating and for wine, and will include the history of wine production.
Entrance is from Rehov HaNasi 3, Jerusalem and requires a valid Israeli ID or passport. Weapons will not be permitted and there is no facility for depositing weapons. Please avoid bringing bags or packages with you. The event is mostly outdoors, and in the event of extreme weather there may be updates regarding the holding of the event. Groups are recommended to arrive after 14:00. It is recommended to use public transport to get to Beit HaNasi.
Photo credit: Koby Gideon (GPO)