- Written by Silvia G. Golan
- Written by Philippine Embassy
Philippine Ambassador to Israel Neal Imperial led a special celebration to commemorate the 122nd Anniversary of the Proclamation of Philippine Independence at the Balai Quezon, the Embassy’s cultural center, on 11 and 12 June 2020.
In line with the Israeli Ministry of Health’s recommendations to practice safety precautions and physical distancing, the Embassy held a scaled-down diplomatic reception, which was streamed live to other guests via the Embassy’s official Facebook page. Only three key representatives from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs were physically present during the reception: Ambassador Meron Reuben, Chief of State Protocol; Ambassador Gilad Cohen, Deputy Director-General for Asia and the Pacific; and Ambassador Gil Haskel, Deputy Director-General for International Cooperation and head of MASHAV.
Friends of the Philippines, led by Knesset Speaker MK Yariv Levin, extended their congratulations through pre-recorded video greetings. The reception featured two performances, also pre-recorded on video: a stirring interpretation of Maalaala Mo Kaya (“Will You Remember?”), a Filipino love song, by award-winning soprano Ms. Francis Anne Virtudazo; and a special cover of “With a Smile”, a pop-rock ballad, by Embassy personnel, who dedicated their performance to frontliners in the fight against Covid-19, particularly those caring for the elderly and other vulnerable populations.
During the exchange of toasts, Ambassador Imperial shared that this year’s unique celebration had been inspired by the “e-reception” with President Reuven Rivlin for Israel’s Independence Day celebration in April. Noting the challenges posed to diplomacy by the pandemic, the ambassador admitted that “it has been difficult at times to see, or even imagine, what the way forward might look like.” He concluded, however, that the “shared values and dreams” between the Philippines and Israel will “give us the courage to move forward”, thanking Israel for its support of the Embassy’s efforts to assist Filipinos in distress and its donation of much-needed personal protective equipment (PPEs) to frontliners in the Philippine Department of National Defense (DND) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Ambassador Reuben, Ambassador Cohen, and Ambassador Haskel responded individually to the toast, affirming Israel’s commitment to continuing to pursue strengthened relations with the Philippines. Ambassador Cohen noted that this year, Israel plans to expand its diplomatic presence in the Philippines by deploying a military attache to Manila, opening an Israeli honorary consulate in Mindanao, and possibly opening an Israeli trade and economic office in Manila.
The following day, Ambassador Neal Imperial led a flag-raising ceremony to mark the actual date of the anniversary of the proclamation of Philippine independence, accompanied by Consul General Randy Arquiza, Labor Attaché Rodolfo Gabasan, and Defense and Armed Forces Attaché Colonel Raul Villanueva. Joining them were Fr. Carlos Santos, Guardian of Saint Peter’s Church in Jaffa, and Mr. Simha “Simi” Salpeter, “Kaanib ng Bayan” Presidential Awardee in 2010.
The ceremony was followed by a short program starting with the reading of messages of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr., Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana, and Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III, all of which were also streamed live on the Embassy’s official Facebook page. Leaders and representatives of the Filipino community in Israel joined the program via pre-recorded videos, wishing their countrymen a happy Independence Day.
For those who were unable to join in real time, the Embassy has uploaded videos of the events to its official Facebook page, Philippine Embassy in Israel (www.facebook.com/PHInIsrael) and its official YouTube channel, PHinIsrael(https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCg9ZpLDZ4S0CRXy-G_gWe-w).
Philippine Embassy officials led by Ambassador Neal Imperial (center, left) and officials from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs led by Chief of State Protocol Ambassador Meron Reuben (center, right) practicing social distancing and complying with the Israeli Ministry of Health’s recommendation to wear facemasks.
MASHAV Head Ambassador Gil Haskel (left) and Ambassador Neal Imperial (right) greeting each other with an elbow bump.
Photos courtesy Embassy of the Philippines
- Written by Silvia G. Golan
Last Sunday (1.3.2020) the Embassy of India with the cooperation of the Museum of Jewish people (Beit Hatfuzot) held an memorable event with the Paradesi Jewish community and screened the documentary "Sarah, Thaha, Thoufeek".
The film showcases a heartwarming real life story of human companionship.
Sarah Cohen, the oldest surviving Paradesi Jew in Mattancherry, Kochi (Kochi is in the state of Kerala in India); Thaha Ibrahim, a local tailor who helped Sarah with her embroidery work, including making kippahs, and looked after her; and Thoufeek Zakriya, an aspiring chef with interest in Hebrew calligraphy who laboured to make copies of the Torah.
Directed by Sarath Kottikkal and produced by Thomas Kottackakom, the film was screened on 1 March at Beit Hatfutsot, Israel’s Museum of the Jewish People, in the presence of Ambassador Sanjeev Singla, Mr. Dan Tadmor, CEO of Beithatfutsot, Sarah’s friends and family that included her niece Becky Finkelstein and her grand nephew Yaakov Finkelstein, Israel’s Consul General in Mumbai.
Sarah Cohen died on August 30, 2019. She voted in India’s general elections in April 2019 at the age of 96.
The team that made the film comprises two time National Award Winning sound designer, Justin Jose who worked on Bollywood box-office wonders like “Bahubali”, “Bajirao Mastani” and “Padmaavat” and Producer Thomas Kottackakom who was awarded in the 60th National Film Awards for “101 Chodyangal”.
Photos Credit Alon Gergo
- Written by Silvia G. Golan
Ahead of Israel’s 72nd Independence Day, President Rivlin and Foreign Minister Katz hosted a reception for the diplomatic and consular corps in Israel via videoconference
“Although we are apart, we have never needed each other more.”
“We hope that Israel’s technology and innovation, of which we are so proud, can contribute to the global effort to find solutions to make our world safer and healthier.”
Ahead of Israel’s 72nd Independence Day, and as he does every year, President Rivlin and Foreign Minister Katz today, Sunday 26 April / 2 Iyyar hosted a reception for the diplomatic and consular corps in Israel via videoconference. The traditional reception at Beit HaNasi was held this year as a virtual gathering in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Minister of Foreign Affairs Yisrael Katz and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Ambassador Hennadii Nadolenko of Ukraine, also spoke at the reception.
“This year, we celebrate seventy-two years of the independence of the State of Israel in very different times. We are all facing a global challenge, the coronavirus that makes no distinction between nations, races or religions. It has claimed many lives and many people are suffering. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those, all around the world, who have lost loved ones, and those who are ill,” said the president at the beginning of his remarks.
“Overcoming this global challenge demands global cooperation and unity,” he added. “Although we are apart, we have never needed each other more. It demands sharing experience and know-how. We hope that Israel’s technology and innovation, of which we are so proud, can contribute to the global effort to find solutions to make our world safer and healthier.”
The president also stressed the challenge of the fight against antisemitism, racism and discrimination, everywhere and in any form, saying it will continue and grow stronger.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Yisrael Katz thanked the president and the diplomats, saying “I know that being away from your homes and families at this time is not easy, but I am sure that together we will come out of this difficult period even stronger and more united than in the past. Next year in Jerusalem.”
Dean of the Diplomatic Corps Ambassador Hennadii Nadolenko of Ukraine thanked the president on behalf of the diplomats and said, “On this day we not only mark the rebirth of the Jewish national state, we also honor the achievements of Israel that brought worldwide admiration. It is not a secret that many of us views Israel as a modern, innovative economy and a prosperous country.”
Photo credit: Mark Neyman (GPO)
- Written by President’s Spokesperson’s Office
Over 40 global leaders gathered for an official dinner hosted by President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin at Beit HaNasi in honor of the World Holocaust Forum
President Rivlin to the assembled leaders:
“This is a historic gathering, not only for Israel and the Jewish People, but for all humanity. This evening as we remember the victims of the Holocaust, and World War Two, we also mark the victory of freedom and human dignity”
“I hope and pray that from this room, the message will go out to every country on earth, that the leaders of the world will stand united in the fight against racism, antisemitism and extremism, in de-fending democracy and democratic values. This is the call of our time. This is our challenge. This is our choice”
For the first time in history, over 40 global leaders gathered for an official dinner hosted by President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin tonight, Wednesday 22 January / 25 Tevet, at Beit HaNasi in honor of the World Holocaust Forum. President Rivlin, the official host of the events delivered remarks tonight, as did HM King Felipe VI of Spain and Israel Prize laureate Prof Yehuda Bauer. Among the honored guests were the President of France, the President of Germany, the President of Italy and many others. Among the Israeli dignitaries were the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, the Chairman of the World Holocaust Forum, the Chairman of Yad Vashem, Rabbi Yisrael Lau, Benny Gantz, the Speaker of the Knesset, the IDF Chief of Staff, the President of the Supreme Court and the Mayor of Jerusalem.
The evening began with a reception with the president welcoming each guest as they arrived with a handshake. The guests went from the reception to their places at the table for the official dinner. “Welcome to the official dinner in honor of the 5th World Holocaust Forum, under the auspices of the President of the State of Israel,” began the evening’s compere, Yael Lavie. “The World Holocaust Forum marks International Holocaust Day in memories of the victims of the Shoah, and the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. The State of Israel deeply appreciates the fact that so many world leaders are participating in this forum to ensure we turn remembrance of the past into the promise of the future.”
In honor of the occasion, a special film was screened to the guests with comments by 44 world leaders calling for Holocaust remembrance and the fight against antisemitism which have been brought together in a unique book published by Yad Vashem and the World Holocaust Forum.
The president began his remarks by saying, “On behalf of the State of Israel and the People of Israel, welcome to Jerusalem. Thank you all for being here. This is a historic gathering, not only for Israel and the Jewish People, but for all humanity. This evening as we remember the victims of the Holocaust, and World War Two, we also mark the victory of freedom and human dignity.”
He concluded: “The future lies in the choices we make, especially, those we make together, as countries and nations. I hope and pray that from this room, the message will go out to every country on earth, that the leaders of the world will stand united in the fight against racism, antisemitism and extremism, in de-fending democracy and democratic values. This is the call of our time. This is our challenge. This is our choice.”
After the first course was served, David D’Or, Miri Mesika and Amir Benayoun performed the song ‘The Last Survivor’, written in 2018 for the Knesset delegation to the March of the Living by Amir Benayoun with words by Moshe Klughaft. The song, performed in English and Hebrew, is a moving testament to Holocaust survivor who are a living bridge to the world that was destroyed and the world that was rebuilt.
The opening to the song was played on a violin owned by Holocaust survivor Itzhak Reider ז"ל a talented musician living Warsaw when war broke out. Itzhak hid from the Nazis but continued to play together with a German friend. The same friend smuggled him from Poland to Belarus with a fake passport but Itzhak was caught on the way by the SS. They forced him to play for them and thus decided to let him live. He hid in a hole in Belarus and and fled from the Nazis once again, making his way to Moscow. His violin was left behind. Itzhak’s entire family was murdered by the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto and in Auschwitz, but he managed to rebuild his life through music and became a noted professor, had a family and immigrated to Israel. In 1973, a stranger knocked on his door and returned his lost violin to his son Vladimir, without saying a word.
In his speech on behalf of the leaders, HM King Felipe VI of Spain said, “Having a precious, rich and complex Jewish past and a vibrant Jewish community, Spain decided to create a solid framework of rules and initiatives to fight relentlessly against antisemitism and every form of xenophobia and racism. There are, of course, many more Nations ─both present here and others─ that are making similar efforts and progress; but, while I remain optimistic, I know ─we all know─ that we will always need to persevere together so that those words we have repeated so many times, “never again”, remain our guiding and unwithering principle.”
Shlomi Shaban then performed a special arrangement of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Dance Me to the End of Love’. The song was written when Cohen heard testimonies of survivors of death camps who spoke about string ensembles whose members were forced to play as prisoners were marched to their death in the gas chambers. Shlomi Shaban is the grandson of a Holocaust survivor who survived Dr. Josef Mengele’s medical experiments, Helena Adler Moskovich. In Auschwitz she was sent to work in the camp’s kitchen where she smuggled scraps of food to other prisoners and helped them survive.
The event ended with a group photograph of the assembled leader, after which dessert was served.
Photo credit: Koby Gideon (GPO)
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