Israel Cultural Exchange to Begin

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Tulsa World
May 29, 1996

Oklahoma is on the cutting edge of a new cultural exchange program — one that can make wonderful things happen for this state.

The Oklahoma Israel Cultural Exchange will not only strengthen international friendships, it also will be good for business.

“Italy’s LaScala Opera sells Italy’s Fiats,” said Uri Bar-Ner, deputy director general for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, who was here recently to strengthen the ties between Oklahoma and Israel.

During a breakfast in his honor at Philbrook Museum of Art, he discussed the role that culture plays in economic development. Bar-Ner, who heads up his country’s cultural and scientific affairs, told members of Tulsa’s business and arts community of the significant part that cultural exchanges play in the Israeli political structure and of the allocations made to the arts by the Israeli government.

“One cultural program is worth 100 ambassadors,” he said.

If that is the case, then Tulsa has a good head-start.

The efforts of the Oklahoma Israel Exchange will only strengthen programs such as those that we already have enjoyed through exchanges with Israeli students, artists and performers. We have a lot to look forward to.

David Bernstein, who is executive director of the Jewish Federation of Tulsa which hosted the recent breakfast, discussed the various programs with board president Sara Sanditen, cultural series chairwoman Rita Newman, and Charlotte Schuman, who helped coordinate the event.

“Wonderful things can come from these programs,” said Charlotte. “We are delighted.”

In January Charlotte learned more about the programs first-hand when she was part of a group that went to Israel with Gov. Frank Keating. Others at the breakfast who were part of that trip were Frances Chandler, George Charlton and Steve Edwards. Also attending the breakfast were Brina Reinstein, the Federation’s campaign director; Betty Price, executive director of the State Arts Council; Wendy Thomas, executive director of the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa; UCT president Rodger Randle, TJC president Dr. Van Trease, and University of Tulsa Law School head Marty Belsky. Also, Donna Briggs, of the Tulsa Global Alliance; Patty Eaton, executive director of Tulsa Opera; Nancy Wolov, whose husband, Andy, is vice president of the Federation; Deborah Levine, Rita Levit, her son, Ken Levit, chairman of the Federation’s community relations committee; and community arts leaders including Anne Luthey, Ernestine Peacock, Virginia Atwood, Nancy and Ray Feldman, Karen and Barry Davis.

Others there were Yehuda Cohen, of the Hed Music School in Israel, which is working on a program to allow students at the music school to take their fourth year at Oklahoma City University; Mark Parker of Oklahoma Central University; Susan Fenster, Irv Frank, Linda Frazier, Charlie Hawkins, Mildred Sanditen, Patty Watt, Sandy Cardin and David Halpern, who will teach at the Oklahoma Arts Institute this summer.