It’s a workplace we’ve been coming to for years – rundown, drab, hidden from the street by surrounding
highrises like an eyesore the neighborhood is ashamed to claim as its
It’s been a longtime butt of jokes, but they’ve been our jokes, told
with disdain and rolling eyes, but also with affection and a tangible sense of
The cracked walls, the crumbling ceilings and the stained
carpets of The Jerusalem Post offices on the capital’s Yirmiyahu Street have
hosted thousands of staff members who called the sad-looking former chicken
Staffers have left some of their blood, sweat and tears
in the woodwork, publishing the paper six days a week since moving there in
That’s a lot of newspapers – each one its own novel, not only
because of the news on the front page, but also because of night-desk dramas,
malfunctioning computers, failed and barely met deadlines, and all the
excitement, tension and release that typifies any day in Israel.
office is only as memorable as the people who work there, and under that
criterion The Jerusalem Post building is a treasure trove of memories and
history. Nightdesk staffers who used to keep bottles of whiskey next to their
dictionaries as essential work tools; reporters getting into shoving matches
with over-zealous copy editors; a particular layout person who developed a
serious case of Jerusalem syndrome, and Hebrew-speaking prepress workers who
regularly pasted in headlines backwards.
The ghosts of those Linotype
typesetters, manual typewriters and the people that used them are like the thick
cobwebs that now proliferate in the abandoned basement, where the metallic clang
of the mammoth printing presses once permeated the midnight hour with the
industrial smell of fresh newsprint. There was no feeling as exhilarating as
seeing that Rube Goldberg electronic assembly line rolling off thousands of
copies of the next day’s paper; the fresh ink sticking to your hands as you
walked back upstairs staring at the front page, hoping no obvious error stared
Even though the printing press is long dismantled and presumably
sold for scrap, there are still signs of the gloried past in the building; the
outside of the late Sam Orbaum’s locker still adorned with a sticker of his
beloved Montreal Expos. The birth dates and greetings from long-gone staffers
written in permanent marker on the message boards are there but fading, like the
memories of their faces. The framed historical front pages of the Post
chronicling the life and times of modern Israel dot the walls.
the chair Gershom Agron used while serving as the first editor of the paper is
there, a little worn but still being used by visitors to editor-in-chief Steve
He’ll have a new office on Friday, and Sunday’s paper
will be edited in the new digs just down the street. But the spirit and the
tradition accumulated over the past 41 years on Yirmiyahu Street will still
accompany us on the next part of our journey.
The new facilities are
modern, efficient and boast quite a view of Jerusalem. But just as we never
missed an opportunity over the years to bitch and moan about our physical
surroundings, we’ll surely find something to complain about at the new place
too: it’s too small, it lacks character, the watercooler is in the wrong place,
it’s not the old place.
It’s human nature to fear change and hold on to
the past. So, for some of us, there might even be a glint of regret and loss
over leaving a workplace – as dumpy as it was – that has played such a huge role
in our lives for so long.
Apparently, you can take the people out of a
building, but you can never completely take the building out of the people –
those dedicated employees who infused it with the life of journalism day after
day, one newspaper following another.
The writer began working at The
Jerusalem Post in 1990.
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