BY MASHA LEON | “How do you wish to be announced?” asked the uniformed greeter as I approached the receiving line for Queen Noor al-Hussein of Jordan, resplendent in a silk green and gold gown, and Reuma Weizman, wife of Ezer Weizman.
“Masha Leon of The Jewish Forward,” I replied and repeated as I shook hands with Boutros Boutros-Ghali (Secretary General of the United Nations) and his wife, Leah, Mr. and Mrs. Preston Robert Lisch (owner of Loews), Mr. and Mrs. John Wallach (founder and president of Seeds of Peace), and Mr. and Mrs. Elie Wiesel. The benefit was given on behalf of Seeds of Peace, a summer camp for Arab and Israeli teenagers in Maine.
Above the din of clinking champagne glasses and cocktail chitchat I heard a bagpiper. After spotting the tall clad-in-full-regalia “Scottsman,” I asked him what his tartan clan was. “The FBI,” replied Joe Brady, member of the 25-member FBI Pipers. “I designed it myself —red, white, and blue.” When I introduced myself, he exclaimed, “The Forward! Read it all the time. Ed Koch is always touting the paper.” He then recounted how he developed a taste for the local Maccabee beer on a recent two-week visit to Tel Aviv. “And for you,” he added, “I will pipe Hava Nagila.” And he did!
Nella Yasacobi (whose husband, Gad Yaacobi, is Israel’s ambassador to the U.N.) told me about the prior day’s heads of mission luncheon at the U.N., which she hosted: “When my mother, Raya, spotted Leah Boutros-Ghali’s mother, Pauline Nadler, she hugged her and exclaimed, ‘Oy, ikhhken epes reydn a vort oyf Yiddish!’ [I can converse in Yiddish] … and you should have seen all the Arab ladies looking on!”
Among the “A”-list guests was super-artist Peter Max who’d been asked by John Wallach to create a portrait of the two honorees to memorialize the occasion. The portraits were the presented to Queen Noor and First Lady Weizman at the dinner.
Teddy Wegner, president of the Greater Flushing section of the National Council of Jewish Women (the section I belong to), reported that Queen Noor was the keynote speaker at the banquet of NCJW’s March 26-29 Public Policy Conference in Washington (attended by more than 700 national delegates). The Queen, who for the past 15 years has been involved in innovative social and educational programs for women and children, spoke eloquently of the peace process between Israel and Jordan, of the need for more power to women and the need for cooperation between the children of Abraham—Arab and Jew—and reconciliation between Israel and Jordan and eventually all the Arab nations.