EVER SINCE the death in 1991 of her husband, famed Jerusalem-born artist Moshe Castel, Bilha Castel had been talking about building a museum that would serve as a permanent monument to his creativity. She has finally realized her dream and last week was able to show off her project to members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, MKs, art lovers and collectors, Ma’aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel and members of the Ma’aleh Adumim Council. Bilha Castel would have liked President Shimon Peres, a personal friend, to have been present as well, but Peres, who had a previous engagement sent a letter in which he said that he had the privilege of looking at Castel’s art every day because it was part of the permanent collection at Beit Hanassi. It is also part of the permanent collection at the Knesset.

Kashriel said that the Castel Museum, which was designed by Israel Prize laureate David Reznik, had put Ma’aleh Adumim on Israel’s art and culture map. Malcolm Hoenlein, vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents, noted that just as Castel had deep-rooted ties to the area around the museum, so American Jews have ties to Israel and Jerusalem. He said he hoped that tourists visiting Jerusalem would travel the extra distance to Ma’aleh Adumim to enjoy what the museum has to offer.

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Moshe Castel, whose ancestors moved to the Holy Land in 1492 to escape the Spanish Inquisition, studied art in Paris and lived there for well over a decade but fled from Europe at the outbreak of World War II and joined the art colony in Safed. As his fame grew, he opened studios in Paris and New York and traveled frequently between Israel, France and the US.

n AFTER A long hiatus, the Jerusalem Economic Club came back to life under a new president, accountant Avi Yehudayof. It convened at the Rimonim Hotel, formerly the Shalom Hotel, to listen to Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz talk about his plans for alleviating unemployment in Israel in general and in Jerusalem in particular. Among those attending were attorney Yehuda Raveh, outgoing director of the Hadassah Medical Center Prof. Shlomo Mor Yosef, chairman of the Tel Aviv Building Contractors Association Avner Levi, Gihon chairman Moshe Kalchin, chairman of the Abu Ghosh Council Salim Jaber, chairman of the Mevaseret Zion Council Arye Shams, venture capitalist and entrepreneur Erel Margalit, Hebrew University vice president of external relations Carmi Gillon and several members of the Jerusalem City Council.

IT’S CERTAINLY not all work and no play for Alyssa and Roger Friedland, owners of the RE/MAX Vision office in Baka. They were honored last Saturday night at the RE/MAX Night of Stars with the Moadon Hazahav (Gold Club) award for their outstanding results this past year, making theirs the company’s leading office in Jerusalem. The RE/MAX network numbers 100 offices throughout Israel. The office in Baka has 12 agents, of whom Simcha and Rachel Gluck, Nelly Ephrati Artom and Annette Rosen received outstanding performance awards. The Friedlands made aliya 15 years ago and started their real estate business soon after. They are active at their synagogue, Ramot Zion, in French Hill. Alyssa is also the co-president of the Nechama-Hadassah group, and Roger is the director of the Jerusalem Scrabble Club.

FANS OF singer/songwriter Meir Ariel will be pleased to learn that all the songs he wrote for himself and others have been compiled, along with several anecdotes, by veteran radio and television music show editor and host Yoav Kutner and published in a book. The 270-page book is due to hit the stores within the next week.

ZAKA, THE voluntary emergency response team founded in Jerusalem by Yehuda Meshi Zahav and Rabbi Moshe Aizenbach, is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Since its founding Zaka, which is a Hebrew acronym for Disaster Victims Identification, also provides first-aid and rescue services and operates all over Israel and abroad. Zaka teams, composed mostly of Orthodox Jews, travel to disaster areas around the world to aid forensic experts and to help in life-saving efforts.

Recently a Zaka team that went to Mexico assisted in the recovery mission at the site of the helicopter crash in which Mexican businessman Moises Saba and family were killed. The Zaka delegation left Mexico for the Haiti quake disaster immediately after completing their work at the crash site, flying with the Mexican delegation to Port-au-Prince. Not long after their return to Israel, Governor of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto arrived in the country as head of a Mexican government delegation and asked to meet the Zaka volunteers, whom he commended for their professionalism and dedication. He said the Mexican delegation had high praise for what ZAKA had done in Haiti. Among those attending the meeting was Mati Goldstein, head of the Zaka International Rescue Unit.
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