Grapevine: In for the long term

One of Jerusalem’s more unusual architectural creations is the Bank of Israel building, which is slated for renovations and repairs.

Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer resigns 370 (photo credit: Sasson Tiram)
Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer resigns 370
(photo credit: Sasson Tiram)
ONE OF Jerusalem’s more unusual architectural creations is the Bank of Israel building, which is slated for renovations and repairs at a cost of some NIS 177 million, to be borne by the taxpayer. Timing is everything, and the announcement about the improvement project all but coincided with the bank’s harsh report on government overspending and the need to impose severe cutbacks across the board. It’s not that outgoing Governor of the Bank of Israel Stanley Fischer dreamed up the overhaul project as a parting shot before he heads for the US to join his family. The idea first came up five years ago, and the work is actually scheduled to begin next year, when Fischer will be out of office.
But the cost factor is not so much the objection as the bank’s right to make any alterations without consulting the architectural firm that designed the building. In other words, does an architect have unlimited rights over his creations and to what extent can he veto change? An article in Calcalist, the financial supplement of Yediot Aharonot, says that objections to any form of change have been raised by architect Arad Sharon, who is the grandson of Israel Prize laureate Arieh Sharon, the original architect of the Bank of Israel.
Together with his business partner Sharon Gur Zeev, Arad Sharon has declared through his lawyer David Mena that the contract that his grandfather had with the state gives his firm perpetual copyright to the iconic structure, meaning that no alterations can be carried out without the firm’s approval, even though 45 years have passed since the building was constructed.
The Bank of Israel was motivated by safety and security considerations to decide on repairs and, of course, the easiest course of action would be to work together with the 75-year-old firm of the building’s architect. But for some reason, Israeli bureaucrats usually ignore the most obvious and easiest way out of a predicament.
BALLROOM DANCING is back in vogue, with couples dancing with each other with arms clasped instead of simply shaking opposite each other in time to the frequently frenetic music. The return to ballroom dancing is now seen in many places among younger age groups, including children, who will be the ballroom dancers of the future. The television program Dancing with the Stars, in which contestants are required inter alia to demonstrate their waltz and tango techniques, has contributed to the revival, and before that the huge wave of immigration from the former Soviet Union, where ballroom dancing and competition were apparently a popular pastime.
Jerusalem was represented by two teenage couples at the gala event at the Tel Aviv Hilton hosted last Sunday by the Foundation for the Advancement of Ballroom Dancing. The two couples were Almog Shmueli and Eden Ganon and Yuval Hodos and Keren Ben- David. There are several ballroom dancing studios in Jerusalem.
A GROUP of four social entrepreneurship bloggers arrived in Jerusalem this week under the auspices of the educational organization Kinetis to get a close-up look at some of the city’s social justice projects. The bloggers were Tristan Pollock from Social Earth, Alex Delaney from Pioneers Post, Peter Nguyen from Go Change the World and Matthew Alberto from the Social Entrepreneurship series. During their visit, they went to Gilo and Beit Safafa to look at initiatives sponsored by the JVP Community Projects, known in Hebrew as JVP Bakehilla.
Launched in 2002 by Debbie and Erel Margalit, JVP Bakehilla provides an extracurricular educational and social framework for more than 22,000 children from many parts of the city. The concept guiding the JVP community is to empower children and their parents to aim for higher academic achievements and personal and social growth. JVP Bakehilla works in six of Jerusalem’s underprivileged neighborhoods – Katamon, Neveh Ya’acov, Pisgat Ze’ev and Talpiot, in addition to Gilo and Beit Safafa.
The bloggers met with both professionals and volunteers who work with the youngsters, as well as with the children themselves, to get as broad a perspective as possible about what is being done and what can be done to give whole communities a greater sense of motivation, achievement and self-worth.
Now that he’s a Knesset member, Margalit will probably take the concept beyond Jerusalem.