On Saturday evening at the Beverly Hilton, Leah Rabin, in red silk, trimmed at collar and cuffs with black lace, handled with articulate pride yet another public recognition of her sorrow as she accepted the Rabin Award from the Los Angeles Chapter of Friends of Sheba Medical Center.
"It would have made him very, very proud that it bears his name. Now we cannot tell him. Now we can only walk in his spirit," she said of the tribute to her slain husband, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Leah Rabin is international president of Friends of Sheba, which raises funds for the facility in Tel Aviv. The evening netted $2 million and served to announce the establishment of the Yitzhak Rabin International Wall of Peace on the hospital grounds.
A downside of the evening was the absence of the announced emcee Larry King. King's excuse, telephoned by an assistant to dinner co-ordinator Ron Dollinger just two days before the event, was that he had been summoned to the White House by Hillary Clinton. Striving to be tactful, Dollinger noted that perhaps "summoned" was not quite the appropriate word, but that he had been told this was the only time King was given to talk with the First Lady and even offers of a private jet couldn't change things. While the crowd put its own spin on the incident, Angela Lansbury handled the emcee duties with aplomb.
"Thank you Angela," Rabin remarked. "TV stars come and go, but you are a household name."
The evening started with a press conference in which Rabin said she would not be drawn into the political area occupied by her late husband. "I have been 47 years following all his struggle and of struggles I have had enough," she said.
The formalities of the program were conducted by national dinner chairman Harvey Silbert, co-chairmen, Peter Gold and Jonathan Mitchell, and the Los Angeles Friends' new president, Martin Tucker. Among the 800 guests was Lynn Redgrave,who had met Rabin when she came backstage in New York after a performance of Redgrave's "Shakespeare For My Father."
White doves of peace nestled in the white tulips on the tables. Israeli singer Hedya Amrani sang "The Song of Peace" which Yitzhak Rabin had joined in singing moments before his assassination in November.
Video memories of Rabin were accompanied by a candlelight tribute sung by the Crenshaw High School Choir. The final image on screen of Rabin's smiling face echoed Mrs. Rabin's statement in her moving recollection of their final day together: "He went to his death a happy and content man."