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As every year, after the holiday of Pesach, business man and ex- parliament member Raffi Elul and his wife Ofra opens their home in Mazkeret Batia to many friends, businessmen, parliament members and other distinguished members in order to have the Mimuna, a traditional Moroccan ceremony that celebrates the return of the "Chametz" to the table.

President Peres singing with Raffi Elul and his wife Ofra.
Among the guests of honor were the president Shimon Peres, politicians such as Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and Tzipi Livni, musicians like David Krivoshei, business figures like Shery arrison, ambassadors and diplomats.

The crowd enjoyed Kuskus and Mufletas and sang along with Einat Saruf, who convinced president Peres to sing alongside Raffi Elul and his wife.



Photos Silvia Golan






The Israel Project and Diplomacy.co.il invites you to a special one-day briefing on Tuesday April 5 on "Israel in a Changing Middle East – Opportunities and Challenges" (personal invitation below).

The sessions have been specially prepared for foreign diplomats and senior journalists with the goal of providing access to top Israeli and international experts 'all under one roof' - covering themes such as regional stability, the peace process, economic cooperation and security.

For catering purposes, we kindly request an RSVP including your diplomatic id number by Sunday April 3rd to Ronit Shebson @ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..   A full program will follow upon registration and kindly bring your diplomatic ID on the day.   Looking forward to welcoming you on the 5th

Israel Project        Diplomacy.co.il

“Israel in a Changing Middle East - Opportunities and Challenges”

A one-day briefing for foreign diplomats and journalists, key speakers including:

Mr. Dan Meridor  - Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy

Lt. Gen. (res.) MK Shaul Mofaz – Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee

Brig. Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser – Director General of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs

Dr. Khalil Shikaki - Director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research

Brig. Gen. (res.) Shmuel Zakai - Former commander of the IDF Gaza Division

Dr Tal Becker - senior policy advisor to Israel's Minister of Foreign Affairs and lead negotiator in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations during Annapolis.

Tuesday April 5, 10am – 4pm
Mamilla Hotel, 11 King Solomon Street, Jerusalem.
We look forward to welcoming you. Detailed program will follow upon registration.
RSVP with diplomatic ID numbers by Sunday April 3 to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / 054 807 9065







Female artists, playwrights, and performers are expected at a four-day festival in Holon that will explore how creative women view the world.

Anna Levine Thomson in Bridget. Thomson will have a dialogue with director Amos Kollek at the International Women's Festival. (Photo: Osnat Kollek)


Theater, dance, music and art are all on the program for the annual Holon International Women's Festival, March 9 to 12 at the Holon Theater, south of Tel Aviv. From a satirical cabaret "starring" biblical heroines to a chamber music marathon, the festival aims to attract women - and men - from all walks of life.

"For me, the most important goal is to showcase the talents of young women - the next voices in theater and music," says artistic director Ori Egoz, a 38-year-old playwright and theatrical director.

This is Egoz's first time on the job under the festival's general director, Guy Telem. The festival has been running for 15 years and opens the day after the 100th International Women's Day.

"As usual, we will feature female performers from Israel and abroad," says Egoz. "I tried to put together a good combination of new voices in the arts as well as voices that have something different that they want to say and ideas they want to investigate in drama, music and dance."

Among the many planned dance performances will be Efrat Nehama's Partitions, exploring religious barriers between women and men; and Miriam Moses' choreographed work on how daily interaction with soldiers affects children at play in Samaria.

"We will also have a memorial tribute to Sara Levi-Tanai, one of the first ethnic choreographers in Israel, on the 100th year since her birth," says Egoz. Levi-Tanai, the founding director of Inbal Dance Theater, gained worldwide notoriety for theatricalizing Yemenite rituals and folk customs. "She created a whole new language," says Egoz.

A tribute also is planned to Lia Van Leer, Israel Prize-winning founder of the Haifa Cinematheque, the Jerusalem Cinematheque, the Israel Film Archive and the Jerusalem Film Festival.

Ori Egoz is artistic director for the women's festival, which takes place in Holon this March. (MFA) 

Bridget, Elvis

Films starring American actress Anna Levine Thomson (sometimes spelled Thompson) - such as Bridget (2002) - are to be screened at the nearby Cinematheque Holon. Following a showing of her Fast Food Fast Women (2000), Egoz will moderate a discussion with the director, Amos Kollek, and Thomson. The actress appeared at of the Jerusalem Film Festival in 2000, where the movie premiered.

"This is very important for us," says Egoz. "Thomson is considered by Kollek as his muse. She is completely unpredictable and very brave. She gives a sharp and emotional performance conveying a lot of pain in her characters."

A whimsical yet rousing highlight is to be an Elvis Presley tribute show, Sing to the King, featuring Israeli singers Riki Gal, Ruti Navon, Karolina, Yael Kraus, Tamar Eisenman and Yael Deckelbaum, who will also debut her second album, Joy and Sadness, at the festival.

Why Elvis, at a women's festival? Egoz laughs. "We thought it would be a way of taking a manly symbol, the king of rock and roll, and giving it to the Israeli queens of rock and roll," she replies. 
A comedic drama by actress Hilary Friedman, who manages a group home for autistic adults, will examine her experiences there in the form of a dialogue with an autistic woman.


Alcoholics, drug addicts and YouTube

An Arab-Christian playwright from the Culture Lab in Nazareth will present her play about women in a support group for wives of alcoholics and drug addicts. Samira, a drama by Anat Barzilai, delves into the mindset of a would-be Palestinian "martyr" and the preparation behind her failed suicide mission.

In another innovative piece, dancer-choreographer Renana Raz will present YouMake ReMake, an all-female version of her unique interdisciplinary event in which performing artists "upload," onstage, their response to their favorite YouTube clips.

Described as "creating a mindful dialogue with the original clips," the troupe of performance artists will give the audience "a new look at how YouTube influences our lives as creators," explains Egoz.

Among guests from abroad will be the Portuguese singer Lura, considered the successor to Cesaria Evora, performing "very vivid ethnic music," and a chamber quartet "marathon" featuring members of the Israel Women Composers Forum, jazz pianist Katya Tubul and folksinger Sharon Azaria.

Exhibitions, workshops and conferences are planned for the days before and during the event, including a major conference on March 2 exploring Israeli business women, sponsored by Status magazine; gatherings of female physicians and architects; and a women's health fair.

"I hope the audience will be varied and colorful, and will give those who come the possibility of listening to different views," says Egoz, who has been juggling her planning of the festival with her directing duties at Tel Aviv's Cameri Theater and at the Holon Theater.

"This is the power of art," she explains. "Taking subjects and emotions we all deal with - anger, jealousy, love, hate - and showing how writers and performers handle these emotions differently according to their special way of looking at them."

A program at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem gets Arab children and Jewish children from different neighborhoods talking and creating together.

Via the MFA
For most of the children, the museum workshop is their first encounter with peers from the other side of Jerusalem. (MFA)

IMTM 2011  - Israel's International Mediterranean Tourism to highlight voting for the Dead Sea in the New7Wonders Contest.


This year, the IMTM is spotlighting the votes that the Dead Sea has won in the New7Wonders contest. The contest was launched in 2007, with initial participation of 440 sites from 220 countries. In the final stage that’s currently taking place, the competition features 28 sites from various countries – and the Dead Sea is among the finalists. The finalist sites represent a breathtaking array of global tourism and heritage sites.

Like the previous competition in which seven wonders created by people were chosen by over 100 million votes, a professional panel chose the 28 finalist sites. Next, the final voting phase began. Over a two-year period, people from across the world have cast their votes for their seven favorite wonders, by internet or SMS. The short list is to be published in November this year, and over a million people are expected to vote. For the Dead Sea to enter the competition, collaboration was necessary between Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority.

Organizers of IMTM are promoting the Dead Sea marketing campaign through global voting, featuring it in advertisements for the event. At the opening ceremony, awards for People of the Year in Tourism will be conferred on key people in Israeli culture and tourism - members of the Israel Opera and the Dead Sea regional councils. Against all odds they created the “Nabucco at Masada” project - the largest cultural event ever staged in Israel.

Eyal Shmueli, publisher and editor-in-chief of Israel Travel News magazine, and one of the architects of IMTM says: "The Dead Sea’s reaching the contest’s final stage is a tremendous milestone in making Israel a tourism magnet; it marks the growing recognition that the Dead Sea is enjoying. Apart from the honor that Israel would get by winning, taking part also has major significance for regional development, creating jobs in the Eastern Negev, demographic growth, and important implications for developing the State of Israel. So at IMTM we have taken on the task of helping the Dead Sea to be chosen as one of the seven new wonders - and we all hope that we’ll pull it off.”

IMTM Is the annual central event of Israel’s tourism sector. Its mission is to encourage incoming and outgoing tourism, plus domestic tourism in Israel, and to strengthen joint ventures with other countries. This is the 17th consecutive year of the event. Alongside the foreign nations taking part are Israeli representatives, tourism associations from around the country, hotels and airlines, car rental organizations, and tourism-service providers.

The event is organized by Ortra Ltd. and Israel Travel News, and sponsored by the Tourism Ministry, the Israel Hotel Association, EL AL, IATA, Israel Tourist & Travel Agents Association,

and Tel Aviv – Jaffa Tourism Association.