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July 12, 1996 - Image 17

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1996-07-12

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Reporter's Notebook

Community Views

Israel Looks To Entice
U.S. Jews With Flash, Luxury

When Our Silence
Will Nottlo

JULIE EDGAR STAFF WRITER

PETER GREENBAUM SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS

The Israeli govern- temporary Israeli artists. On a
ment is worried, tiled veranda, visitors can sip cof-
and it has nothing fee amid lush Mediterranean
to do with terrorist breezes. Ms. Goor, the wife of a
bombs or inflation. wealthy American businessman,
The anxiety is invested $1 million to transform
caused by the a former hostel for Jewish pilgrims
almighty tourism into a refuge for herself and her
dollar, of which it is art, which is artfully arranged
not getting enough. around rooms she uses to enter-
More Christians than Jews now tain friends.
The cacophonous Planet Holly-
visit Israel, and the Jews who vis-
it as tourists — only one-third of wood, on the boardwalk off Ha-
approximately 6 million American yarkon Street in Tel Aviv, is
Jews have — tend not to return a studiously American, with chick-
second time. American Jews, said en fingers, Buffalo wings and na-
a representative of the Israel Min- chos dominating the menu. This
istry of Tourism, simply don't see branch features the throne
Richard Gere sat in as King David,
Israel as an "in" place to visit.
So the government is shifting the marble-like tablets Charlton
its promotional gears. Instead of Heston carried in The Ten Com-
appealing to obvious sentiments, mandments and lots of other stuff
it is going for more prosaic in- appropriate for the Land of Israel.
A perky waitress from Los An-
stincts. The Tourism Ministry
wants American Jews to know geles explained that she got the
that today's Israel offers more than job because her English is au-
spiritual and intellectual refresh- thentic.
Then there was the $100-mil-
ment; it is a place to pamper one-
self in five-star hotels and spas lion Hyatt Regency-Dead Sea, a
that offer reflexology and shiatsu bleached monument to comfort ris-
along with meals made from ing like a pyramid from the naked
organically grown fruits and brown mountains of the Negev at
the edge of the Dead Sea in Ein
veggies.
It is a place kids
will like. Its a place
to soak up culture
at elegant opera
houses and muse-
tuns. And it is a
place of jazz and
film festivals, of
blues clubs, and
one of the latest
Planet Hollywoods,
a variation on the
Hard Rock Cafes
that spring up The Tel Aviv Perf orming Arts Center
around the globe
Boqeq. Like nearby Masada, vis-
like fungi.
The "New Israel," as it was re- itors can hole up for weeks — if
cently framed for a group ofjour- they can afford the rooms, which
nalists, introduced a level of range from $169 to $1,019 per
Western-style luxury heretofore night.
The indoor and outdoor Roman-
unheard of in Israel, according to
the ministry and tour co-sponsor style baths will feature fresh wa-
El Al Airlines. (It was my first trip ter and the mineral-rich waters of
to Israel, but my fellow travelers, the Dead Sea, and restaurants (in-
most of them veterans, were also cluding a tapas bar) and clubs
throughout will make it possible
impressed.)
Our week-long tour consisted of to never leave. They've even built
points north, south, east and west. a squash court and an exhaust
We saw the elegantly modern system that will whisk away the
opera house, part of the Tel Aviv smell of sulphur from the sea.
A smallish airport nearby will
Performing Arts Center. We drank
iced cappuccino at the austere be expanded, although maybe not
Cafe Basel in Rehov Basel while in time for the hotel's scheduled
watching passersby, including a opening in August.
The equally lavish Royal Beach
sashaying young stud in leather
and tight jeans and a soldier who Hotel in Eilat overlooks the Red
talked earnestly on his cell phone Sea and a figure eight-shaped
swimming pool bisected by cas-
as he walked his tiny dog.
The Ilana. Goor Museum in Yaf- cading waterfalls and tropical veg-
fo was like stepping into a rich etation. The discos and clubs in
aunt's home. Housed in a restored the cluster of hotels thump
citadel, the museum showcases throughout the night. Aqaba in
Ms. Goor's cast-iron-and-leather nearby Jordan doesn't sparkle
furniture and her serpent-en- nearly as much.
At the nearby Dolphin Reef,
twined iron banisters and wall
sculptures, along with artworks, bronzed Israelis in bikini tops and
two and three dimensional, by con- shorts demonstrated to onlookers

how affectionate and trainable bot-
tle-nosed dolphins are. A repre-
sentative told us the animals are
free to leave at any time. The reef
offers a program in which emo-
tionally challenged children are
paired with dolphins. The bonds
they form are somehow healing in
a way human contact is not, she
informed us.
If the Royal Beach and Hyatt
Regency rival the most glamorous
hotels in New York City and Mi-
ami, Mitzpe Hayamim in Rosh
Pina in the Upper Galilee region
would be right at home along the
northern California coast.
A woodsy, quiet place with hot
tubs, farm animals and a gallery
that features the work of local
artists, the vegetarian inn offers a
soothing alternative to city life.
It also offers "health weeks" for
people seeking to realign their di-
ets and fitness routine. Not a thing
wrong with watching the day fade
and the mist rise over the Sea of
Galilee while soaking in a jacuzzi.
Those who couldn't fit in the tub
chose to eat at what is touted as
Israel's finest kosher Chinese
restaurant, the Pagoda, in near-
by Tiberias.
By far the best
dining experience
was at Uzba in
Rama, off the road
that connects
Akko to Safad. Af-
ter Avinoam, our
tour guide, stopped
along the dusty
road to ask a
pedestrian if it
would be OK for a
group of Jews to
stop by for refresh-
ment, we placed
ourselves at a long table in what
looked like a Quonset hut. The
decor was simple and the food del-
icate and abundant.
Dish after dish was laid before
Lis. Chilled pitchers of almond wa-
ter and lemonade were refilled
constantly. Then came the main
courses, goat and lamb stews, fol-
lowed by a dessert, an airy white
flan. Owner Habeeb Daoud told
us the cuisine was firmly rooted
in Arab culinary traditions but in-
spired nonetheless by Israeli cook-

Our itinerary also included a
visit to Akko on the Mediter-
ranean, where excavations of a
knights' hall from Crusader times
is still under way.
But it did not include a climb to
Masada nor an archaeological dig.
Our exposure to kibbutz life was
limited to an encounter with the
Baba Yona Co., which rents
kayaks and rafts for trips on the
Jordan River.
And although we toured the Old
City in Jerusalem, I left Israel
somewhat heavy with regret. The
"old" Israel — that's what I'll go
back for. ❑

The survivor and data and double-check signifi-
I face each other. cant dates and locations. Accu-
As the camera racy is important. Sometimes
rolls, I ask ques- an older person's memory for
tions to help him dates and spellings can fail.
Sometimes I am afraid of
recall fragments
of a vanished what I might hear. I can't ap-
pear upset, stop an interview or
world.
Do you re- distract the survivor. She
member the Jew- shouldn't have to see me strug-
ish community in your town gle with my composure while
when you were small? Did you she wrestles with hers. I am also
have a nickname? How did your careful not to press too hard
family celebrate the High Holi- when she pauses.
In the course of a Holocaust
days? What did you hope to do
survivor's testimony, silence can
with your life?
I am a volunteer interviewer communicate pain, loss, bewil-
for the Survivors of the Shoah derment and disbelief. It com-
Visual History Foundation, pletes a thought at the end of
which was started by filmmak- one recollection and stills the
er Steven Spielberg. The goal is voice at the beginning of the
to videotape testimonies from next.
I believe survivors can share
Holocaust survivors. Interviews
are digitized in an archive and their stories with me because I
will be accessible through a com- am a stranger. And I have not
become friends with those I
puter network.
Many survivors are old. Some have interviewed. On each oc-
have no one to tell. Others have casion, however, I have been
kept their stories from their
families. Perhaps it's easier to
confide a secret to a
stranger. We don't judge.
As a child, I wasn't
an observant Jew, nor
was I bar mitzvah.
My family did cele-
brate the High
Holidays and
sometimes went
to synagogue. I
heard my
mother speak
of the Holo-
caust, but it
seemed vague
and far away.
While a student
masa Ms trauannsi ENS
rilesausess
in Europe, I WM= Wor*
toured Austria,
visiting the con-
centration camp *a
Mauthausen. Lat-
er, in Israel, I went
to Yad Vashem. Each
visit provoked ques-
tions
Asa man, I joined iggi
a synagogue and be-
gan to look more si r ng ,1z4
closely at my own ' •
Jewishness. Today, I
believe this project is a way for embraced when we parted.
As a Jew, I find my commit-
me to contribute something to
ment to my heritage is stronger
my heritage.
I have discovered that one of because of this project. As a
the most difficult tasks is to hear man, I look more closely at my
painful testimonies and remain own thoughts about people and
detached enough to steer the in- race. Sometimes my feelings are
terview in the direction it must not as tolerant as I wish them
to be.
go.
I believe people, not God,
In a pre-interview, I learn
about a survivor's past. On my made the Holocaust happen We
own, I research the historical do have choices in this world.
We can remain silent or speak
out. We can help or hurt, love or
Peter Greenbaum is an
hate. The ability to choose has
independent writer and
been given to us by God, but the
filmmaker in Chicago.
choices we make remain our
This item first appeared in
own. ❑
the Jerusalem Post.

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