JERUSALEM (JTA) — President Barack Obama was slated to receive some unique gifts during his first presidential visit to Israel this week.
At the start of the leaders’ working meeting upon the president’s arrival on March 20, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu planned to present Obama with a gold-coated nano-chip with the Israeli and U.S. declarations of independence etched side by side.
The gift, developed at the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, was etched on a chip affixed to a Jerusalem stone dating to the late Second Temple period. The stone was used to seal clay vessels that held liquids and spices.
At the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum and memorial, Obama was to receive a copy of a unique manuscript that survived the Holocaust — the sheet music with an original composition for the Passover liturgical poem “Had Gadya” written by Cantor Israel Eljasz Maroko in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam in 1941. It is the only one of his many original cantorial works to have survived the Holocaust.
Sara Netanyahu, the wife of the prime minister, planned to send to Michelle Obama a silver Passover seder plate with the hope that it will be used at the annual White House seder. She was giving the president’s children, Sasha and Malia, chains with silver medallions in the shape of David’s harp set with Roman glass, and sending a rubber hamburger toy home for the family dog, Bo.
The presents were selected after querying the public on the Facebook page of the Prime Minister’s Office.
More than 1,600 Israelis submitted slogans to a U.S. Embassy contest for tickets to the president speech at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem on March 21.
According to the embassy’s Facebook page, 1,618 people answered a post promising tickets for 20 of the most “original and creative” comments.
One of the contenders, Nathan Bachrach, wrote: “As a grandfather of three girls in Houston, Texas, I hope one of them will one day replace you and become the first woman president in the U.S.”
Another contender, Eitan Friedman, was one of several dozen who said they wanted to attend the speech to ask Obama to free Jonathan Pollard, a Jewish American who in 1987 received a life sentence for spying for Israel.
Yityish Aynaw, the first Miss Israel of Ethiopian descent, said she also planned to ask the president to free Pollard when she meets the president at a dinner hosted by President Shimon Peres.
Aynaw, 21, who was crowned two weeks ago, reportedly was invited at the behest of Obama’s advance team.
In interviews with the Israeli media on March 13, Aynaw called Obama an inspiration and a role model. “For me, he is a role model who broke down barriers, a source of inspiration that proves that every person really can reach any height, regardless of their religion, race or gender,” she told the Israeli daily Yediot Achronot.