Israel: The good, the bad, and the beautiful

Student transforms sludge into ‘green’ foam

An Israeli student has found a way to transform waste from paper mills into industrial foams with many uses, replacing conventional foams that are made from fossil oil. Foams are used as core materials in “sandwich” panels, for example, in furniture and in car doors.

In paper production, about half the fibers are lost as sludge. In Europe alone, this means 11 millions tons of waste annually. The new foams, developed by doctoral student Shaul Lapidot and colleagues at the Faculty of Agriculture, Food, and Environment on the Hebrew University’s Rehovot campus, require relatively low energy and chemical input. An Israeli-Swedish start-up aims to develop the product for industrial-scale production.

Hebrew University professor fired for sexual misconduct

At long last, the Hebrew University has let it be known that it will not tolerate sexual harassment of students by their professors. Anthropologist Eyal Ben-Ari has been dismissed for several reasons, including having taken advantage of his position to have intimate relations with one student and having proposed to two others that they share a room when they were abroad.

In August 2008, three former students complained to the police that Ben-Ari had made indecent proposals to them. Their complaint followed an anonymous letter to the university authorities alleging sexual misconduct.

In September 2008 the police announced that Ben-Ari would not be charged, but in February 2010 the university’s disciplinary tribunal ordered that he be suspended for two years. Following an appeal, the university’s appellate tribunal decided to dismiss Ben-Ari.

When another kind of professor marched into Jerusalem

The first time my husband saw The Music Man—that is, the 1962 film version of the Broadway musical—he went wild. On the way home, he drove his motor scooter around and around and around a traffic circle, for the sheer joy of it. And when we arrived at our barely furnished room, he marched in with his head held high, his arm rising and falling as if he were carrying a baton and leading a band in a rendition of “Seventy-six Trombones.”

So when I learned that a live version of The Music Man was coming to Jerusalem last month, I quickly bought tickets. I knew that the group, Israel Musicals, consisted mainly of amateurs, but we’ve enjoyed many amateur productions in Jerusalem; there’s a wealth of talent here. And it seemed a fitting way to celebrate our anniversary.

We weren’t disappointed. Meredith Wilson wrote the book, the music and the lyrics for this show in which a con man comes to River City, Iowa, and convinces the townspeople that they need a boys band “to keep the children moral after school.” The prim librarian falls in love with him because, despite the con, he succeeds in waking up the somnolent and hypocritical townspeople and helping her little brother overcome his extreme shyness.

One of the cleverest musical elements is a tune that serves both for the brash “Seventy-six Trombones” march and for the tender love song in waltz time, “Goodnight, My Someone.” And then there’s the wonderful counterpoint of “Pickalittle Talkalittle” and “Goodnight, Ladies,” and of another pair, “Lida Rose” and “Will I Ever Tell You.”

The two leads—Howard Metz as “Professor” Harold Hill and Shani Wahrman as librarian Marian Paroo—were excellent, and Kiefer Johnson as Marian’s little brother with a bad lisp, Winthrop, was very good. Choreographer and featured dancer Assaf Berznitsky was also a delight, as was the Chutzpah barbershop quartet.

The chorus was weaker than in other amateur productions we’ve seen in Jerusalem, but that didn’t keep us from enjoying the music as we sang along in our heads. What did detract from our enjoyment, however, were the two women sitting behind us, who apparently thought they had come to a sing-along. If I’d brought an extra pair of socks with me, I could have solved the problem.

Text copyright 2011 by Esther Hecht. No part of the text may be used without written permission of the author.


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2 Responses to “Israel: The good, the bad, and the beautiful”

  1. Judy Labensohn Says:

    Esther, This post is actually the beautiful, the ugly with a good ending and the beautiful. If I had been at the musical and sat behind you, you would have given me a dirty look.

  2. Teresa Silverthorn Says:

    You would have given me a dirty look, too.

    I was raised on that musical, and played the vinyl album at least once a week. I know every song “by heart” and would have a hard time keeping my lips from moving – before bursting into song. 🙂

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