As Coronavirus Causes Cancellation of Public Events, This One Is Going Ahead

Toast Tel Aviv will meet on Sunday for an evening of public-speaking practice in English, while 30 new immigrants will spend their first two weeks in Israel in self-quarantine

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A man walking through the arrivals hall at Ben-Gurion airport, March 9, 2020.
A man walking through the arrivals hall at Ben-Gurion airport, March 9, 2020.Credit: Gil Cohen-Magen

HEALTH SCARE VICTIMS: The coronavirus pandemic is taking its toll on public events, and the English-speaking community has not been spared. Center Stage, Israel’s professional English-language theater, had to cancel its performance of “Love Goddess” scheduled for next week, because the star of the one-woman tribute to Rita Hayworth, Almog Pail, resides in New York and all travelers to Israel have to self-quarantine for two weeks. Other indirect casualties of the health scare are the runners who were going to raise money on behalf of various good causes at this month’s Jerusalem Marathon, which has also been canceled. For example, Beatie Deutsch, who won the Miami half marathon just last month, was to run for Beit Daniella, a rehabilitative day care center for youth in memory of Daniella Pardes, while The Lone Soldier Center in Memory of Michael Levin was going to have a team run on its behalf.

PUBLIC-SPEAKING ANNOUNCEMENT: Among the groups braving the coronavirus scare is Toast Tel Aviv, which will meet this Sunday at Tel Aviv’s Mindspace for an evening of fun, public-speaking practice in English. The community provides a “warm, supportive atmosphere,” according to Marina Naomi Smolyanov, the group’s founder. Smolyanov, a lecturer at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, who worked for the Israeli government in five countries, told Haaretz she encountered Toastmasters International while being posted in Los Angeles, and decided to found a branch of her own upon her return to Israel five years ago. She said Toast Tel Aviv has adapted to the city’s more transient and international culture, so “it’s more of a community than a club,” yet it is still about “inspiring and being inspired by others’ stories.” The group meets regularly. For more info, call Marina at 052-870-7198.

Tel Aviv Toast founder Marina Naomi Smolyanov.Credit: Netanel Tobias

SPECIAL ALIYAH ARRANGEMENTS: Moving to Israel is always a memorable moment, particularly during epochal events. Next Wednesday, a group of around 30 North American immigrants coming on a flight organized by Nefesh B’Nefesh will have the novel experience of spending their first two weeks as Israeli citizens in self-quarantine. “We are in the middle of setting up a hotline for all new immigrants coming in for the quarantine period,” NbN’s Yael Katsman told Haaretz. “We’ve also set aside funds just for this cause to ease their transition.” She noted that a few elderly passengers are considering postponing their immigration plans due to health concerns. One immigrant, David Bassous, moved up his flight to arrive Wednesday and join his wife lest next week’s flights be canceled. “I figured that Israel is one of the safest places to be right now because of having a proactive policy [that is] one of the strictest in the world. But I was still was shocked when I landed and witnessed Ben-Gurion airport deserted,” he told Haaretz.

Rank and File was compiled by Steven Klein.

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