Octogenarians Are Staging a Robbery in Haifa

Plus, an Early Childhood Educators Conference in Tel Aviv and parallel events in Israel and Australia to mark the 40th anniversary of Netzer

Steven Klein
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Maurice Ross, left, Bertha Cafrey and Ruth Willner in Haifa English Theatre's production of "Welfarewell."
Maurice Ross, left, Bertha Cafrey and Ruth Willner in Haifa English Theatre's production of "Welfarewell."Credit: CLIVE NOBLE
Steven Klein

STAGING A ROBBERY: Haifa English Theater (HET) is staging a comedy about some unlikely bank robbers — octogenarians — starting next Thursday. “Welfarewell” is “a show full of laughs, but also serious commentary about seniors taking life into their own hands and making life better for others as well,” HET’s Betsy Lewis Yizraeli told Haaretz. One of the protagonists is 90-year-old Ruth Willner. “She’s up there on the stage shouting, ‘And we’re 80!’ — and everybody laughs because we know she’s past that age and still chugging,” added Lewis Yizraeli, who hails from Washington. The cast also includes Bertha Cafrey, Adiel Cohney, Tova Giventer, Judy Koren, Clive Noble, Maurice Ross, Yoss Stybel and Dana Lynne Weil. The show runs in Haifa’s Gefen House through November 30 and will also be staged in Carmiel on December 3. For tickets call Hazel (Haifa) at 04-872-7940 or Frankie (Carmiel) at 050-771-1037.

TALES OUT OF PRESCHOOL: While Israel struggles to improve its education system, two immigrant educators in Tel Aviv are putting together a first-of-its kind event on a vital but often overlooked niche: early childhood education. The Early Childhood Educators Conference, taking place December 29-30 in Tel Aviv, is the brainchild of Elvia Fisher Meir and Juliet Taylor, who run early childhood center CityKids. Fisher Meir, originally from Connecticut, told Haaretz the goal is to “improve the current system from the inside out” by bringing together leaders from the field. London native Taylor said that “we know all the research pointing to the value of this period,” so the conference also aims to “raise awareness of the importance of what we’re doing.” Fisher Meir added: “We’re bringing research and practice together to raise the level in Israel.” The conference’s call for proposals has been extended to Monday for Haaretz readers. For more info on submitting a proposal or attending, visit the website.

GOING BACK TO ITS ROOTS: Netzer, the youth movement of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, has grown to thousands of members across the globe. However, many are unaware of its humble roots in Australia 40 years ago. At the time, Arik and Tal Hatzor, two emissaries from Israel working with Melbourne youth in liberal synagogues, recognized the potential for creating a Reform Zionist youth movement. Netzer will be celebrating those beginnings with a reunion in Melbourne, while a parallel event will take place in Tel Aviv next Saturday night, November 23. “My idea is to celebrate all the generations of Netzer Australia, concentrating on olim and shlichim,” said Anne Lustig-Picus, referring respectively to immigrants and emissaries of the Jewish Agency who served in Australia. Lustig-Picus, who is organizing the Israeli event and is herself a native of Melbourne, noted that there’s never been a Netzer Australia reunion in Israel. To register, call her at 054-819-0454.

Rank and File was compiled by Steven Klein.

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