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  • Writer's pictureRony Alfandary

Zoom Interviews during Covid-19

Updated: Aug 5, 2023

What to do with the social distancing imposed upon us? Rather than just moan and groan, I have decided to seize the moment and started a series of Zoom Interviews with friends and colleagues, in Israel and abroad. The format of the interviews is basic: I ask three questions: what is the book that has influenced you the most, which is the film that has left the greatest impact upon you and which political event has shaped you. You will be amazed at the variety of answers, some of them very unexpected...

I have written elsewhere about the effect of the early days of Covid-19 upon my life. It has been filtering into all layers of our existence, like so many grains of sand. Coupled with the political unrest, the Second Wave and the severe lockdown it brought with it, as a result of the inept Israeli Government and the less than obedient public, it looks like a turn for the worse.

The very first interview was conducted in Hebrew with the Israeli author, Yakir Elkariv, whose novel Masuda has come out just before Covid-10 erupted. I was also able to conduct an interview with his elderly grandmother who is the inspiration for the book. The answers he gives to the three questions are indeed unique and surprising, some would say even shocking.

The actor and activist Shai Avivi, who was generous enough to repeat the interview twice on account of technical wifi issues (which we have not been able to totally overcome, as you will see), gave a fascinating account in Hebrew, well worth a listen. Shai is a well-known actor and public figure who first surfaced thanks to his part in the legendary Hahamishia Hakamerit, and since has starred in many films and TV series , as well as being a very active figure in Pardes-Hanna.

Yoram Melcer, the author, translator of many languages (including Julio Cortázar's Hopscotch) and the editor of Alaxon, gave a riveting interview where he spoke of One Hundred Years of Solitude, Rabin's assassination and many other things.

I was lucky to converse at length with the author and editor of the Culture & Literature section of Haaretz newspaper, Benny Ziffer , whose very original views on Israeli politics are given depth and perhaps even credibility by his wide and deep knowledge of art and culture.

The historian and deputy-editor of the Spectator Magazine, US edition, Dr. Dominic Green, is a fascinating writer and thinker. His articles in the Spectator and the Critic Magazine are a must to anyone who seeks new and fresh outlook on anything cultural, literary or political in the world. His writing is informative, eloquent and shows the depth and breadth of his historical grasp.

Prof. Moshe Halevi Spero , a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst and the Director of the Post-Graduate programme of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy at Bar-Ilan University, introduced some very unique and original thoughts about the relation between psychoanalysis, film and literature.

The Mental-Health and Addiction researcher and Poet, Dr. Constance Scharff, who currently works with the Rock for Recovery Foundation in the USA gives an inside view into many complex issues regarding faith, poetry and hope. She contributed poetry to the C.20 Magazine as well as being a very adept horse rider.

The Ex-Puppeteer, Sharon Silver, was able to illuminate through her choices some very hard concepts. her magic with words, often seen in her performances, is tangible in the interview. She is brave enough to admit liking a book she never completed....

The Canadian-born international artist, Howard Fox, whose studio in Karkur is a place of inspiration, talked about art, naturally. His interpretation if certain masterpieces is intriguing as well as his choice of the political event that has shaped him.

The Barrister Billy Apt from Austin, Texas, whom I met at the Islands of the Mind Festival in Corfu last year, delivered his refined views on current political events in the USA, as well as his fascinating choices of literature and film. His delicate choices are an eye-opener

My colleague, Eileen O'neill , working in a hospital as a social worker in London, shared her formative experience during the 80's in England, as well as making some remarkable and astute observations on film and books.

The British musician and film composer Jason Osborn from London gave very significant insights relating to Russian literature, French films and British politics.

In a specially lit atmosphere, there was real magic to his words.

Marianne Leloir, a French Scholar speaking from Albi in France, made some very curious and unexpected choices regarding reading material, films and politics. Her choices, based upon many years of experience, showed an insight int a very keen and sharp mind.

Eyal Kagan, a political activist and a very colourful figure in Pardes-Hanna, shared his singular outlook, delving deep into his childhood to capture the experiences that have made him the man he is today. He too is very active in the Black Flags Protest Movement in Israel.

The very prolific writer Adiva Geffen, who had published many very popular fiction books, is currently the director GNAZIM – ARCHIVE OF HEBREW WRITERS, where she is doing wonders in bringing to light many almost forgotten but extremely important texts. Her choices of books and films are fascinating.

Lilach Mor a very fine architect, took a very different route in her answers, adapting the literal to the visual, thus creating a kaleidoscope of images and impressions. A true must! She was kind enough to repeat her interview due to Wifi issues. despite the technical challenge, it was worth every second.

Ilan Shariff, a social worker, photographer and an organizer of many beautiful things, brought some childhood gems into his answers, illuminating grave issues such as masculinity and political struggle with a glowing light.

Simona Baht is a literary editor and a reviewer of fiction. Amongst other works, she edited Yakir Elkariv's Masuda and my own forthcoming novel. Her deep knowledge and sensitivity of literature make for an exquisite interview. Her insights about literature and feminism are worth listening to.

During October 2020, I conducted the First series of Zoom Interview during Covid-19. Twenty people sat and answered my questions. Now, in January 2021, I begin the Second series. And my first interviewee is Tami Almog, Technical Support Engineer but mainly a very active and involved political activist, who has taken to the streets in protest.

My second interview was with Dr. Rachel Groweiss who is a scholar and lecturer in the diverse field of Rabbinic Literature . She talks about the concept of the Original Sin as representing Free Will, as well as recent political events in Israel.

Tzafra Dweck, a social worker, writer and lecturer, as well as having been the head of the Union of Social Workers in Israel, introduces her amazingly wide knowledge of books and film on a variety of subjects that somehow seem to home in on the struggles of the individual in an increasingly hostile world.

Dr. Claudia Kedar, an historian with a deep understanding of social and economic process in Israel and elsewhere, talks about Herman Hesse, Argentina and the dictatorship in the 70's, democracy and the imperative to live by one's own ideals.

And last but certainly not least, Dr. Haim Alfandary, a retired plastic surgeon, a photographer and an expert in classical music, whose experience is invaluable in all fields. In his interview, he was able to fine-tune some insights that certainly earn him the well-deserved title of the Wise Man of the Tribe.

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