Thursday, December 13, 2007

Center Bulletin Vol. 4, No. 9

Volume 4, Issue 9
December 13, 2007

Total Number of Visitors Since October 2004: 349,331

Menachem Begin Prize 2007

A large, distinguished enthusiastic audience filled the Reuben Hecht Auditorium on Tuesday night for the ceremony to award the Menachem Begin Prize to the Bnei David Pre-Army Yeshiva and citations to former President of Israel’s Supreme Court and to the Ariel University Center in the Shomron. Among the guests were a number of retired and current Supreme Court Justices as well as former Minister of Defense and former Foreign Minister, Prof. Moshe Arens.

All this took place against the backdrop of the lighting of the 8th candle of Chanukah by Yosef Wittelson, who is a member of the International Board, with musical accompaniment by a multi-piece klezmer-fusion style band, HaTizmoret HaAmamit. The evening was emceed by Herzl Makov, the Chairman of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center.

Harry Hurwitz, founder and president of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation opened the proceedings and made remarks about each of the honorees and took the opportunity to recall the three young Israeli soldiers who were abducted and are still in captivity—Gilad Shalit, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.

"I pray that they will return home soon, strong, and in good health." He congratulated the Ariel University on the change of its status and expressed the hope that one day, when it is a full university, its leaders will give it the name of Ze'ev Jabotinsky or Menachem Begin.

When he spoke about Meir Shamgar, he said that this was "the time to recall the role of the late Chief Rabbi Louis Isaac Rabinowitz of South Africa, who had traveled in and out of the Gilgil Camp in Kenya carrying documents pictures, passports and other material to assist Ya'acov Meridor and his five associates to escape from the camp. Tonight is a good opportunity to recognize the Rabbi's distinguished role and to salute him."

A greeting was also given by Gershon Stav, the Chairman of the management committee, of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center. "By giving the Begin Prize over the last decade, as well as tonight, we are promoting the deeds of individuals and organizations whose activities will be 'a foundation for educating the young generation about all that is good and magnificent in huma n life' as Begin said."

Preceding the award of scholarships to students who are part of the PERAH program and have undertaken to tutor a child from a disadvantaged area, Yechiel Kadishai used the occasion to stress the importance of the Hebrew language to the people of Israel and the Jews of the world. He and Chassia Milo, daughter of Menachem Begin, awarded the prizes.

After accepting the citation for the Ariel University Center, its president, Prof. Dan Meyerstein spoke of the growth of the Center to University proportions. They expect more than 10,000 students this year and the number is constantly growing. Their academic departments are of a high standard and it will indeed be a valuable addition to the complex of universities in Israel. The prize was presented by the president of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation, Zvi Harry Hurwitz.

The fathers of Major Ro'i Klein and Lt. Col. Emmanuel Moreno, the two heroes who died in action in the second Lebanon War, were called upon to present this years Menachem Begin Prize to the Bnei David Pre-Army Yeshiva Academy. In accepting the prize, its founder Rabbi Eli Sadan spoke of the miracle of Chanukah and said that in the life of this nation it was not only weaponry that decided its security, but the strength, spirit, faith and patriotism which the academy has taught to thousands of students.

General Iddo Nehushtan, the head of the planning division of the Israel Defense Forces, spoke briefly about the make-up of the IDF and spoke on the subject of the contribution made to Israel by highly motivated soldiers. He said that the most important weapon in Israel's army is its human resources and therefore, a great deal is invested in education and ways to inspire the men and women in the ranks of the IDF. He paid tribute to the Bnei David Yeshiva, the Ariel University Center and to all other institutions that perform this vital role. He and Herzl Makov had served together in the Israel Air Force and shared some of their military expe riences.

The individual prize this year went to Meir Shamgar who, as a young member of the Irgun Zvai Leumi, was exiled to Gilgil prison in Kenya. There began his legal studies, the start of his distinguished legal career, culminating in the highes t position in Israel's system of justice.

Judge Shamgar spoke of Menachem Begin's devotion to the Court, the "supremacy of the law" and his frequent remark "there are judges in Jerusalem." He added that Menachem Begin contributed to and was dedicated to the idea of a constitution for Israel and that Begin was completely committed to the principle of the Law being supreme in the land. He also spoke of his own dedication to serving the supremacy of the law and justice. Judge Shamgar said that he wished to honor his comrades in the camp and was proud of his days in the Irgun, and recalled especially his two friends who fell in action, Avram Avramovitch and Shmuel Levy.

Begin's Writings Still Relevant Today

In an important article in last Friday's Yediot Ahronot about the Supreme Court in Israel today, the Israel Prize-winning journalist Nahum Barnea used a 200-word excerpt from Menachem Begin's recently republished booklet "World View and National Outlook" from the chapter which deals with the supremacy of the law.

This lead to widespread discussion in legal circles and the library of the Supreme Court called the Begin Center to ask for copies of the booklet.

"World View and National Outlook" is available in both English and Hebrew and is for sale at the Begin Center.

Rare Material Donated to the Archives

The Archives of the Begin Center received a gift of a rare treasure from the Begin family this week.

They are a number of audio tapes carrying the voice of Menachem Begin spoken after his retirement from public office. His children and grandchildren had asked him to tell the story of the Peace Process and he did so for 40 minutes—from the beginning to the signing of the Peace Treaty. The other tapes are recordings of his rare interviews on Israel radio after his retiremen t. This invaluable material will be used in the near future in appropriate radio programs or at public events in the Begin Center.

The heads of the Begin Foundation and Begin Center are grateful to Dr. Ze'ev Binyamin Begin and his sisters Chassia and Leah for this rare gift.

Begin Honored at Rishon L'Tzion Park
At the end of November, a ceremony took place in Rishon L'Tzion where a garden honoring national leaders was opened. It contains six large statues Israel's national leaders: Theodor Herzl, Chaim Weizman, David Ben Gurion, Ze'ev Jabotinsky, Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Rabin.


Judge Alfred Clayman of New York visited the Begin Center last week with his granddaughter who lives in Jerusalem. He is a prominent, long-time leader of the ZOA.

* * * * *

Naomi and Uzi Landau brought some overseas guests to the Begin Center on Wednesday afternoon.

* * * * *

Ariela Cotler of Montreal visited the Begin Center at the beginning of the week. Her husband, Prof. Irwin Cotler is a former Minister of Justice in Canada and is now a Member of Parliament.