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On Wednesday evening February 21 citizens and friends of the Czech Republic and Slovakia celebrated 100 years since the founding of Czechoslovakia, and 70 years for the state of Israel, with a heritage concert held at the Czech Embassy in Tel Aviv. The concert, featuring top Czech and Slovak musicians, showcased Jewish Czechoslovakian music. Many more events are planned throughout the year to continue the centennial celebration.


Deputy Ambassador of the Czech Embassy Mr. Karel Pažourek extended greetings to the guests on behalf of H.E. Ambassador Ivo Schwartz and the embassy. The deputy ambassador pointed out that this was the first of a number of events planned, including a meeting between Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, and the Czech Parliament scheduled for early July in Jerusalem.



The Ambassador of Slovakia, H.E. Mr. Peter Hulényi, pointed out the embassy of the Czech Republic was actually the site of the original Czechoslovakian embassy. He highlighted the uniqueness of the Czech-Slovak relationship, and the fact that both nations could jointly celebrate the founding of Czechoslovakia, noting that such camaraderie was unfortunately rare in international relations following the formal division of states.


Ziv Nevo Kulman, head of the Cultural Diplomacy Bureau spoke on behalf of Israel. Kulman recalled his own position as a deputy ambassador in the Czech Republic, and observed that one of the common features between the people of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Israel, is a shared love and appreciation for music.


The capacity crowd then enjoyed a private concert featuring music from the Ensemble Moscheles, which works to preserve and promote Jewish musical compositions. The concert was an additional demonstration of the cooperation between the three nations, as it featured violinist Tomáš Tuláček from the Czech Republic, pianist Uri Brener from Israel, and mezzosoprano Angelika Pavlech from Slovakia. All gifted and internationally acclaimed performers, together they created a lovely evening of nostalgic Jewish heritage music, bringing the sounds of Jewish Czechoslovakia to life.


Diplomacy.co.il wishes congratulations to the Embassies of the Czech Republic and Slovakia on the centennial marking of Czechoslovakia’s founding.


Steven Aiello
Photos Stella Szpira


Wiener Blut (Viennese Blood or Viennese Spirit) is an operetta named after the "Wiener Blut" waltz, supposedly with music by the composer Johann Strauss the Younger, who did not live to witness the première. Such was the popularity of the original "Wiener Blut" Op. 354 waltz until the time of the composer's death that his work would be chosen as the name of the operetta with libretto by Victor Léon and Leo Stein .

40 participants, accompanied by the Donksi Symphony Orchestra of Hungary

Directed by Pal Farkas

Director: Jozsef Bozso


This is a comedy of musical errors, full of witty jokes, that takes viewers to the lively and vibrant atmosphere of "old and good Vienna." Do not look for depth and drama, they do not exist there. The plot reminds something of the plot of the Operetta "El Murciélago". Confusions between people, betrayals and lies of the main character, and ... a happy ending, the Count finally falls in love with his wife


The musical background of all the intrigues is the wonderful rhythm of the waltz. In the opinion of the critics: "This is the most beautiful and melodic scandal in the history of music!"

"Wiener Blut " is an inseparable part of the repertoire of opera houses in Europe, but so far only parts of it have been played



Johann Strauss did not write the work specifically for the stage, nor did he call it Viennese blood. He agreed to collaborate with a couple of script writers Victor Leon and Leo Shane and gave them permission to use the existing musical passages he composed. Strauss died a few months later and was not present at the premiere of the Operetta in October 1899

At the beginning, the operetta was received coldly by the audience. The director of the opera committed suicide about a month and a half after the premiere. Five years later, the Operetta was reintroduced in Vienna with slight changes in the libretto and the musical structure, and it was a great success

The waltz known in the operetta "Wiener Blut " is what gave the name to the whole operetta

The Hungarian Music Theater is composed mainly of singers and dancers of the National Opera, including outstanding soloists. The work is accompanied by the Hungarian Symphony Orchestra Donski under the direction of Pal Prakash. Hungarian plays are known to music lovers in Israel.

The Operetta "Wiener Blut  spoken in Hungarian with subtitles in Hebrew and Russian

Duration: 2 hours, including the interval


 175 - 295 NIS Eijal Hatrbut Meir Nitzan Rishon J׳, 01.02.2018�20:00
175 - 295 NIS Mishkan Omanuiot - Ulam Hagadol Beer Sheva V׳, 02.02.2018�20:30
175 - 265 NIS Eijal Hatrbut Ashkelon Sab, 03.02.2018�21:00
205 NIS Eijal Hatrbut Modi’in-Maccabim-Reut Modi’in D׳, 04.02.2018�20:00
195 - 235 NIS Eijal Hatrbut Alex Meir Or Akiva Ma׳, 06.02.2018�20:00
205 - 295 NIS Eijal Hatrbut Petah Tikva J׳, 08.02.2018�20:00
186 - 306 NIS Teatron Hatzafon Haifa V׳, 09.02.2018�20:00
216 - 306 NIS Merkaz Rappaport Sab, 10.02.2018�20:00
195 - 315 NIS Beit Hajaial Tel Aviv - Yaffa D׳, 11.02.2018�20:00
175 - 235 NIS Eijal Hatarbut Narkan Carmiel L׳, 12.02.2018�20:00
205 - 305 NIS Eijal Omanuiot Herzlia Ma׳, 13.02.2018�20:00
195 - 295 NIS Teatron Yerushalaim- Sala Schruber Jerusalen Mi׳, 


Photo  PR







The Israel Netanya Kibbutz Orchestra’s third concert of the 2017-2018 season - “Maestro Elbaz’s World of Wonders” - remained true to the current season’s “north-south-east-west” theme, as usual, also including Israeli content. The NKO hosted the Gilad Ephrat Ensemble (Gilad Ephrat-double bass, Keren Tannenbaum-violin/vocals, Hilla Epstein-’cello and Shmuel Elbaz-mandolin). Shmuel Elbaz, the orchestra’s house conductor directed the orchestra and played as a member of the quartet, also soloing on the mandolin. This writer attended the event in the Recanati Auditorium of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art on December 30th 2017.

The three works by European composers took the listener to different points of the compass, beginning with the Overture to French composer Adrien Boieldieu’s (1775-1834) opera “The Caliph of Baghdad”.(1800), eastern in subject matter, but definitely European in musical style, although Boieldieu’s vibrant use of percussion would have been an association or the orient for European audiences of that time. Charming and joyful, albeit conventional, the piece was good concert fare, setting the scene for an evening of genial music. Gioachino Rossini’s Overture to “The Italian Girl in Algiers” (South) (Rossini wrote the opera at age 21!)  was a fine opportunity to hear one of Rossini’s most sparkling overtures and some of the NKO’s finest players in solo moments, a substantial amount of the solo work was played by Hila Zabari-Peleg, the orchestra’s very fine 1st oboe. Taking us westwards, Jewish-Hungarian composer Leó Weiner’s (1885-1960)  “Three Hungarian Folk Dances” were originally written for piano solo. Arrangements for piano duet and for violin and piano exist. Shmuel Elbaz has arranged the work for mandolin and orchestra. Opening with the lively “Fox Dance”, Elbaz and his players present the vivacious dances, each from a different region of Hungary, with much zest and exuberance, With the wink of an eye, Maestro Elbaz challenges the audience to follow him through the whimsical rubato of the “Ronde from Marossék”, as he pulls out all the plugs in the virtuosic abandon of the “Peasants’ Dance”,  a type of fast Csárdás.

Following the above whirlwind world trip, the rest of the concert all comprised contemporary Israeli repertoire. Oded Zehavi (b.1961) composed his Fantasy for mandolin and orchestra (Concerto No.2) in 2017 for the Israel Netanya Kibbutz Orchestra. This concert was the work’s world premiere.  Prof. Zehavi’s program notes discuss where he stands as regards Israeli music and the elements that go to make up this work: modal patterns, sounds heard in music of this region and outside of it, rhythms taken from the debka and hora dances and the concept that a symphony orchestra can sound somewhat informal. Opening with a long oboe solo, the first movement, with its octave melodies and homophonic utterances, bristled with associations of Arabic music. The Andante (2nd movement), communicating a sense of well-being, took on a more western character, with the final Rondo allegro seeming to bring east and west together in a seamless, busy soundscape. The piece sits well on the mandolin, with Elbaz articulately addressing its challenges and fine details and the mandolin easily heard at all times. Oded Zehavi speaks to his listeners through sounds and gestures that are intelligible, accessible and indeed pleasurable and with which they can identify.

Continuing the NKO’s project of presenting short new works by students of both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv Academies of Music, we heard “The Sun Was Dark at Givon” by Naama Zafran (b.1988), a masters student of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. Composer, arranger, pianist and teacher, Zafran’s already comprehensive oeuvre includes chamber music, works for orchestra, for theatre, for video art and cinema. “The Sun Was Dark at Givon”, a program work set in 1207 B.C., describes a solar eclipse. “A solar eclipse is perhaps the most  spectacular natural event people will see”, writes the composer. “During the day, the sun is hidden by the moon, with the stars briefly seen in a sky illuminated with the pink light of dusk…” A mysterious violin melody leads the listener into Zafran’s rich, intense and dramatic musical canvas, wrought of maqam associations, but not just, of articulate melodic strands, energy and compelling orchestral writing.

For the rest of the program, the Gilad Ephrat Ensemble joined the Netanya Kibbutz Orchestra in a selection of Israeli and other numbers arranged by Eugene Levitas. The pieces featured the four ensemble members, with the NKO mostly joining them in tutti support. The quartet’s upbeat, polished and understated style and individual solo improvisations made for sophisticated performance, be it in the sultry, typically Spanish “Murcia”, “Iri-An” with its Irish motifs and pizzazz, Chick Corea’s bouncy, jazzy “Sea Journey” or Ephrat’s “Stockholm”, (dedicated to the NKO’s musical director Maestro Christian Lindberg) the latter weaving folk-like motifs with jazzy sounds. In Moshe Vilensky’s “Lighthouse” and the caressing, nostalgic “Song of the Valley” (Marc Lavry/Rafael Eliaz), Keren Tannenbaum’s low-key singing and more folk-like use of the violin added spontaneity to the performance. Established by composer and double bass player Gilad Ephrat, the ensemble’s virtuosic artists perform music of a style that brings together jazz, classical music,ethnic- and Israeli music. The ensemble recently returned from a concert tour of Brazil and South Korea.

The Israel Netanya Kibbutz Orchestra goes for different and daring programming, with Israeli music high up in its priorities. It is much to the NKO’s credit that its audiences are curious and open to new ideas. And they were kept on their toes at this unusual concert, examining and enjoying the less familiar, the surprises and the challenges of the program. Maestro Elbaz certainly invested much thought and work into the concert.

Photo: Kfir Bolotin









In anticipation of the international Holocaust Memorial Day, the Embassy of Spain in Israel hosted a private screening of the film “The Angel of Budapest,” about Sanz Briz, a Spanish diplomat who saved thousands of lives during World War II.



Following refreshments, H.E. Manuel Gomez-Acebo, the ambassador of Spain, opened the evening by greeting the guests and explaining the importance of what they were about to watch. The ambassador highlighted the importance of preserving the past for future generations to learn about, quoting Spanish author and philosopher George Santayana “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Ambassador Gomez-Acebo pointed out that we must remember both the darkness, and those who had the courage to stand up to the evil around them and take a stand for morality.

The ambassador told the audience that in addition Briz, there were many other diplomats who courageously used their positions to save lives during the Holocaust, with a recent book by Spanish academic José Antonio Lisbona listing 18 Spanish diplomats in 7 countries who had played roles in rescuing refugees. The movie he told the audience, offers a different perspective on the task of a diplomat.

“The Angel of Budapest” is a Spanish film which illustrates the story of Sanz Briz, the Charges D’Affaires of Spain in Budapest during World War II, who used his position, and Spain’s formal status of neutrality, to protect Jews within Hungary. As it became clear that the Nazis were losing the war, the situation became more dire for the Jews, and efforts to deport Jews increased. Sanz utilized a little-known or used statute promising Spanish citizenship to anyone of Sephardic descent to enable Jewish refugees to escape the Nazis as Spanish citizens. Although the actual number of Jews of known Sephardic descent in Hungary was quite small, Sanz and his staff managed to save more than 5,000 refugees this way. As the film shows, Sanz used creativity, ingenuity, and diplomatic savviness to protect thousands of Jews from under the noses of the Hungarian authorities and the Nazis.

Ambassador Gomez-Acebo told Diplomacy that Sanz had gone on to a long and distinguished diplomatic career. He said that today Sanz was well-known in Spain, especially in light of the film’s success. When Yad Vashem began recognizing Righteous Among the Nations in 1963, Sanz Briz was one of its very first honorees, being inducted in 1936.


Photo Silvia Golan

Steven Aiello



Among the finds uncovered in the excavation, conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority in a joint operation with Tel Aviv University, are hundreds of flint hand axes used by prehistoric humans


An astonishing discovery in Jaljulia: a rare and important prehistoric site, roughly half of a million years old, extending over about 10 dunams, was uncovered during the last few months in a joint archaeological excavation conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority in cooperation with the  Archaeological Department in Tel Aviv University. The archaeological excavation was funded by the Israel Land Authority, towards the expansion of Jaljulia.

The excavation revealed a rich lithic industry, including hundreds of flint hand axes, typical tools of the ancient Acheulian culture.

According to Maayan Shemer, the excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, and Prof. Ran Barkai, head of the Archaeology Department at Tel Aviv University: “The extraordinary quantity of flint tools uncovered in the excavation provides significant information about the lifeways of prehistoric humans during the Lower Paleolithic period. It seems that half a million years ago, the conditions here in Jaljulia were such, that this became a favored locality, subject to repeated human activity.  We associate the industry found on site to the Homo Erectus – a direct ancestor of the Homo Sapiens Sapiens, the human species living today. A geological reconstruction of the prehistoric environment,  shows that the human activity took place in a dynamic environment,  on the banks of an ancient stream ( possibly Nahal Qaneh, which now flows approximately 500 m' south of the site). This environment is considered to have been rich with vegetation and herding animals, a ‘green spot’ in the landscape. In this place, three basic needs of the ancient hunter gatherers were met: clear water, a variety of food sources (plants and animals) and flint nodules, of which tools were made. 

The fact that the site was occupied repeatedly indicates that prehistoric humans possessed a geographic memory of the place, and could have returned here as a part of a seasonal cycle.”

Handaxes, found at the site in relatively large quantities, are very impressive tools, their shape somewhat reminding a teardrop. The production of these tools require careful and meticulous work, and a deep familiarity of the raw material in use. In Jaljulia handaxes were made of a variety of flint types, and we also observe a differentiation in the production quality. Almost as if some of the handaxes were made by a master craftsmen and others- by someone less qualified.

 Hand axes were used as dominant tools by prehistoric humans for more than a million years. Yet, its particular use is still debated. Some scholars suggest that these were the tools used to dismember large animals such as elephants. Others say that handaxes were the “Swiss Army knife” of the Stone Age and had additional uses such

as hunting, hide working and the working plant and vegetal material. Large quantities of additional flint artifacts attest to technological innovation, development and creativity

  Maayan Shemer, the excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said: “Coming to work in Jaljulia, nobody expected to find evidence of such an ancient site, let alone one so extensive and with such impressive finds. There are only two sites whose estimated age is close to Jaljulia in the Sharon, or central Israel: one in Kibbutz Eyal, approximately 5 km to the north, and the other, dated to a slightly later cultural phase, at Qesem Cave located approximately 5 km to the south. The findings are amazing, both in their preservation state and in their implications about our understanding of this ancient material culture. We see here a wide technological variety, and there is no doubt that researching these finds in-depth will contribute greatly to the understanding of the lifestyle and human behavior during the period in which Homo Erectus inhabited our area.

Prof. Ran Barkai, head of the Archaeology Department of Tel Aviv University: “It’s hard to believe that between Jaljulia and highway 6, five meters below the surface, an ancient landscape some half of a million years old has been so amazingly preserved. This extraordinary site will enable us to trace the behavior of our direct prehistoric ancestors, and reconstruct their lifestyle and behavior on the very long journey of human existence. The past of all of us, of all human beings, is buried in the earth, and we have a one-time opportunity to travel back half a million years and better get to know the ancient humans who lived here before us, between Jaljulia and road 6.”

Photo Hundreds of hand axes were uncovered in the excavation. Photographer : Samuel Magal, Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority


 Video clip (English) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4EHlIcJtcv0 . Photographer: Shmuel Magal, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority