A view of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
► IT SEEMS that hassidic superstar Avraham Fried is coming to Israel more and more frequently. Fried is scheduled to give a concert in English on Sunday at the Jerusalem International Convention Center in honor of Yud-Tet Kislev, a very special date on the Chabad calendar. It commemorates the release from a czarist prison of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liady, the founder of the Chabad movement. As with all such events, an overflow audience is anticipated, and there will be separate seating for men and women. In addition to the singing, there will be speeches by Rabbi Mendel Gluckowsky of Rehovot and Rabbi Meir Goldvicht, the rosh yeshiva at Yeshiva University RIETS.
Fried is due to return to Israel for a Shabbaton to be held on February 9 to 11 at the Ramada Hotel in Jerusalem. He will be appearing with internationally renowned singers Yitzchak Meir Helfgot and Yaakov Motzen, as well as the Kolot Min Hashamayim Choir conducted by Yuval Stupel.
Weekends of this kind are always a highlight in the lives of the Orthodox community, but one doesn’t have to be religious to appreciate cantorial music or hassidic rock, which is Fried’s specialty.
► MUSIC LOVERS who want to get a little more variety and are happy to contribute to a good cause at the same time can head to the Jerusalem Theater on December 19, where Simon Cohen, Avromi Freilich and The Portnoy Brothers will present a potpourri of classics, Broadway and cantorial songs. Proceeds from the concert will go to the Emunah Family Counseling Center.
► THE JERUSALEM District’s Planning and Construction Committee seems to be intent on tearing down old buildings and putting up high-rises in their place. As yet, Jerusalem has not been subjected to buildings of 60 stories and more such as those cropping up in Tel Aviv, but the skyline is definitely changing, and neighborhood populations are becoming larger and denser. But there is resistance.
Kuti Fundaminski, one of the most clued-in journalists on the topic of Jerusalem real estate, who writes for Yediot Yerushalayim, disclosed in last week’s edition that the developer of a huge project in Kiryat Hayovel is suing Amnon Kislesi, an elderly apartment owner, for NIS 8 million because he refuses to sign the contract that will enable the developer to go ahead with his plans to evacuate the building. Kislesi was initially in favor of the project and even assisted the developer in persuading other apartment owners to agree to leave their homes until the new building was completed. But after reading the contract, he came to the conclusion that compared to his neighbors, he wasn’t getting a good deal after all, and he refused to sign. Ordinarily, if 80% of the apartment owners agree to the evacuation and reconstruction (pinui binui in Hebrew), the other 20% don’t have much of a recourse.
But Kislesi is a diabetic who is seriously ill, and the court may take that into consideration.
What many tenants don’t realize when they agree to such projects when developers come with convincing arguments about the value of a new and larger apartment is that if their apartment is enlarged, they will have to pay higher rates and taxes (arnona) and higher maintenance costs (va’ad bayit), especially since the new building will include elevators, which are costly to maintain.
In addition, the developer may not always allocate the new apartments on the same floor that apartment owners lived on before agreeing to the renewal project. It is therefore of utmost importance to read the small print in the contract and to insist that the contract be translated and approved by a notary public.
Unless one’s Hebrew is perfect, the contract should be translated into the language that one understands best. Otherwise, tenants may find themselves living outside their home for upwards of two years, eventually returning to a different part of the building and later having expenses that they can’t afford. Forewarned is forearmed. The developer will sell the tenants a bill of goods about a bigger apartment, telling them that it won’t cost him anything because he will make his money from the roof rights, meaning that he will be building a certain number of additional floors. One should take such assurances with a grain of salt. It will certainly cost the tenant afterwards.