December 8, 2005
Rabin Tribute Marks 10th Anniversary of Assassination
A lively, heartfelt tribute to former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin brought more than 400 people to the University of Judaism to mark the 10th year since an assassin took his life.
"I miss the man himself; I miss the man who stole all the chocolates with me from his table," said Eitan Haber, Rabin's former chief of staff. "I also miss his fixation on all the small details, his nervousness and his short temper."
The Labor Party prime minister was assassinated Nov. 4, 1995, at a Tel Aviv rally by extremist Yigal Amir, who opposed the Oslo peace accords. A year earlier, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat had shared the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize with Rabin, a Six-Day War commander.
The two-hour Nov. 29 tribute, hosted by talk show host Dennis Prager, featured speakers and songs, including the children's choir, Tzeirey USA (Agoura), singing The Beatles tune, "Let It Be," in Hebrew. The tribute was organized by the Tarzana-based Council of Israeli Community, The Jewish Federation/Valley Alliance and Temple Beth Haverim of Agoura Hills.
Haber recalled how the press statement announcing that Rabin had died during surgery was written by him on the back of a piece of paper he fished from his pocket while at the hospital. The paper's front side was the schedule of the last week of Rabin's life.
"I will not forget this until my very last days," he said.
Israeli Consul General Ehud Danoch said that after the assassination, Israelis of all political stripes understood that "whatever the disagreement, whatever the argument, fulfilling the wishes of a democracy will not cost them their lives."
Danoch described Rabin as "part of a unique generation -- those who truly lived the history of Israel."
Haber pointed out that Rabin would have preferred to talk peace with someone nonviolent, such as the "queen of Holland or the prince of Monaco." Then he quickly added that Rabin told him peace "is made with the bitter enemies." -- David Finnigan, Contributing Writer
Cedars Hosts Conclave on Stem Cell Developments
When California voters passed a $3 billion stem cell research initiative, they not only opened the door to medical advances but also to a collaboration with scientists from Israel, which is an established leader in the field.
To seed that partnership, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center recently hosted a two-day symposium that attracted more than 300 physicians, scientists, bioethicists and entrepreneurs.
"Our goal was to ... encourage collaboration between scientists and clinicians who are doing cutting-edge research," said David Meyer, Cedars' vice president for research and scientific affairs, who coordinated the program, along with Nissin Benvenisty of Hebrew University.
The first day of the program focused on research, drawing scientists from such institutions as Cedars-Sinai, Childrens Hospital of Los Angeles and UCLA, along with counterparts at Hadassah Hospital, Hebrew University, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and the Weizmann Institute of Science.
One presenter, Technion's Lior Gepstein, described how he and colleagues used embryonic stem cells to produce heart muscle cells that can adapt to the structure and electrical pulse of the cardiac tissue into which it is implanted. While many hurdles remain, such technology might some day be used to produce heart pacemakers made of living tissues, rather than implanted electronic devices.
On the second day, seven Israeli biotech companies involved in developing stem cell therapies explained their work to potential investors. Southern California-Israel Chamber of Commerce helped organize that portion of the program. -- Nancy Sokoler Steiner, Contributing Writer