Grapevine June 16, 2021: Where English rules the roost

Publication Date15 June 2021
Prior to her retirement in 1999, Manobla was head of the English programs department at Israel Radio, or Kol Yisrael – the Voice of Israel – as it was known in Hebrew. That was in the days when radio programs in English were given much more airtime than they are today, and therefore were able to include much more diversity in program lineups.

Because of her warm, outgoing personality, her upbeat enthusiasm for a variety of subjects, and her additional talents as a musician who plays several instruments, Manobla has maintained friendships with former colleagues, and has made many new friends along the way.

One of the friends she made was freelance journalist, London-born Neville Teller, who, until making aliyah around 10 years ago, visited Israel at least once a year. Teller, whose byline frequently appears in The Jerusalem Post and its sister publication The Jerusalem Report, has written for numerous publications in Israel and abroad. An Oxford graduate, he combined a career in Civil Service with writing for BBC radio as a dramatist and abridger, in addition to which he has been commenting on the Middle East political scene for approximately half his lifetime, and has written several books on the Middle East. In 2006, he was awarded the MBE for services to broadcasting and drama.

Anyone who doubted this could have seen photographic evidence of Britain's Queen Elizabeth presenting him with the award, in a specially mounted mini exhibit in Manobla's delightful home in Upper Motza.

The occasion was a party she hosted in honor of Teller's 90th birthday which was attended by four generations of the Teller family.

The way Manobla tells it, as only she can, on one of his visits to Israel, Teller was walking along the road leading to Jerusalem's Musrara neighborhood when, on one of the buildings, he saw a plaque with the words "Kol Yisrael." He knocked on the door and asked the switchboard operator if there was anyone around to whom he could speak in English. The switchboard operator called Manobla, whose response was to send him to her office.

Before coming to Israel in 1960, on what was initially intended as a vacation, Manobla had worked for the BBC, so she and Teller had plenty to talk about. He wanted to be an Israel Radio correspondent in England. Manobla wasn't sure. As it was, the department was operating under severe financial constraints.

Nonetheless, before he left, Teller invited Manobla to join him and his wife for dinner. She accepted, and thus began an enduring friendship. Whenever Teller was in Israel, he met up with Manobla, and whenever she was in London, she visited Teller and his wife.

The Tellers made aliyah 10 years ago, but unfortunately Teller's wife died soon after. However, he has three sons, 10 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren, most of them born in London, who are now living in Israel, though one Sabra granddaughter, Osnat, is currently living in London.

Among Manobla's friends from her Israel Radio days is Steve Linde, who headed the news division in the English department before transferring to the Post. Manobla, seven years ago, invited both Linde and Teller, who had not met previously, to her 80th birthday party. She introduced the two to each other – and the rest is history. They took an instant liking to each other. Linde, who was then the Post's editor-in-chief, was happy to receive Teller's contributions, and later, when Linde became editor-in-chief of the Report, he included Teller in his stable of writers.

Teller was extremely touched that several people from the Post had come to his 90th birthday party, and said that when he looked around and saw how many people of his generation suffered physical or mental disabilities, he was thankful to have been spared in this respect. He is healthy both physically and mentally, and moves with the speed of a much younger man. Since the brain controls nearly everything in our bodies, part of the reason for his remaining hale and hearty is that he is constantly exercising his brain, and intends to do so for at least another decade.

Although much of his creativity these days goes to digital and print media, his true love is radio. He has been madly enamored with radio since he was five years old, he said.

■ CONSIDERED BY his Israeli colleagues to be one of the best ambassadors that Poland...

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