21 August 2017 - 30 Av 5777 - ל' אב ה' אלפים תשע"ז
Arts & Culture
Frank Lavin, diplomat and author, visits Hong Kong E-mail

The United Jewish Congregation of Hong Kong (UJC) welcomed Frank Lavin to Hong Kong on 11 May to give a talk and to celebrate the launch of his new book. The event was held at the Hong Kong Jewish Community Centre, King David Room.

Franklin L“Frank” Lavin was born 26 October, 1957, and is a former Republican White House aide who was the political director for Ronald Reagan between 1987 and 1989, a US diplomat, and bank executive. As Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, Lavin headed the International Trade Administration for the United States Department of Commerce from 2005 until 2007. He also served as the US Ambassador to Singapore from 2001 to 2005.

His new book, entitled Home Front to Battlefront: An Ohio Teenager in World War II, is a biography of his father, Carl Lavin, who served with the 84th Infantry Division in the Battle of the Bulge. Thanks to Frank’s detailed research, we are able to follow 18-year-old Carl Lavin from his enlistment through his deployment overseas. The book allows us to see a pivotal time in world history through one soldier’s eyes.

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Abu-Gosh Festival showcases vocal music E-mail

The Abu-Gosh Festival is the leading and most important festival in the Israeli vocal music scene, and is in fact the country’s oldest vocal festival.

This year’s festival, which ran from 30 May until 6 June, featured a wide variety of artists. The festival, held in the town of Abu Gosh just outside Jerusalem in the Judean hills, has existed in its present format since 1992, and takes place twice a year, on the Jewish festivals of Sukkot (October) and Shavuot (June). It lasts between three and five days each time, and this year’s event is the 51st festival.

This year, the festival featured a wide variety of performances, from classical to jazz. The main guest this year was the University of Delaware Choir, conducted by Paul D. Head. This university choir has recorded and performed with great success in concerts around the world, including at Carnegie Hall in New York. The choir performed two programmes. The first combined classical music, African music and spirituals and included percussionist Chen Zimbalista, while the second included jazz-favourite songs and spiritual music.

Other guests at the festival included Portuguese singer Sofia Pedro; Ricardo Rapoport, a bassoon and Brazilian cavaquinho player who was joined with the HaGalil Ha-Elion Choir directed by Ron Zarhi, and the Phoenix Ensemble.

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WJC publishes new book chronicling its 80-year history E-mail
A new book chronicling the history of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) has been released and is now available for purchase on Amazon.

The World Jewish Congress, 936-2016 details the dramatic diplomatic efforts and achievements of this pre-eminent international Jewish organisation, from its founding in Geneva 80 ears ago to the present.

In his foreword, WJC President Ronald S. Lauder wrote: “This book reminds us not only what the WJC did in the past, but why the Jewish people need this vital organisation now more than ever and will continue to need it in the future.”

Among the episodes chronicled in the anthology are the WJC’s multifaceted rescue efforts during the years of the Holocaust; its pioneering role in crafting the groundbreaking Jewish-Catholic dialogue that fundamentally and profoundly changed the relationship between the Jewish people and the Vatican; its role in providing invaluable assistance to the prosecutors at the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg; its high-level diplomatic negotiations that enabled Jews from Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria to emigrate to Israel, France and elsewhere during the 1950s and 1960s; its exposure of Kurt Waldheim’s Nazi past, and its leadership of the international efforts to force Swiss banks to disgorge more than one billion dollars they had wrongfully withheld from Jewish Holocaust victims and their heirs.
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