Grapevine: End of an era

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

Jerusalem's light rail (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Jerusalem's light rail
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Talbiyeh is reputedly an upscale neighborhood. Indeed, many of its residents are in the higher income bracket. For several years they enjoyed relative tranquility while the municipality and The Africa Israel Group argued over the future of what used to be the President Hotel.
Now it seems that the days of tranquility are over as plans for construction of new edifices are underway, as are plans for a light rail route on Keren Hayesod Street. The plot of land on which the new buildings will be constructed extends from Ahad Ha’am Street to Sokolov Street. When completed, the new project will include two six-story residential complexes plus a twelve-story hotel and 184 private parking spaces. As things stand presently, there is barely enough room for all the traffic that passes through Sokolov and Ahad Ha’am, but it’s going to get a lot worse, and it will be a nightmare for the residents and for people who make use of Sokolov Park.
Elderly residents like to sit on the park benches and watch children at play on the swings, slides and see-saws. Dog lovers have an enclosed area to which they can bring their pets and allow them free rein while in the enclosure. Once the project gets underway, people who frequent the park are going to have less room, because a section of the park land will be expropriated to make way for traffic.
Due to the light rail project, vehicles will longer be able to enter Sokolov Street from Keren Hayesod. Taxis, delivery trucks, tour buses and private cars will all enter from Jabotinsky Street and drive past the park, damaging the integrity of the area, and posing a danger to both the safety and the health of children, due to the absence of traffic lights and increased emissions of pollutants from the numerous vehicles.
Bernice Fogel, who lives across the road from the park, has initiated a petition to save the park and to alter the future traffic arrangements before they go in to force. So far, she has more than 170 signatures and expects the number to increase significantly as more residents begin to realize how the quality of their lives will be affected.
As it is, residents in nearby Mendele Mocher Sforim Street, which runs parallel to Sokolov, are discomforted by the buses that bring foreign tourists to the Prima Royale Hotel, and by the number of cars that bring domestic tourists. Unless the traffic plans for the new project are revised, there will be absolute chaos.
■ FRIENDS OF the late Jenny and Max Weil are aware that Jenny was a Holocaust survivor and that Max got out of Germany just in time. Jenny was also a talented musician. On November 22, their children Judy Amsel and Daniel Weil will share memories of their parents on an AACI Zoom event and will dedicate the Jenny and Max Weil Music Program by presenting AACI with a sculpture by Chaim Hendin titled Broken Fiddle. Latvian-born Hendin served in the Red Army from 1940-45 and immigrated to Israel in 1965.
Broken Fiddle is a memorial to all musicians who perished or were murdered in the Holocaust. It also symbolizes the emergence of the State of Israel, but more particularly that the power of music, like the spirit of those who survived the Holocaust, cannot be destroyed.
Max and Jenny Weil made aliya in 1994 and lived in Jerusalem until their deaths in 2019. They supported various causes related to religious life, culture and Holocaust remembrance. The sculpture was in their home, and they would have been pleased to know that its new permanent home is with AACI. Following the 6:30 p.m. dedication ceremony, Maestro Harvey Bordowitz, will present a preview of the lecture he will be giving on January 18 about his 40 years as an international orchestra conductor.
■ THE ANNUAL Emunah concert which is organized by Renee Becker will this year be virtual, a factor that will enable it to be longer and in two parts, the first being on Sunday, November 29 and the second on Sunday, December 6. Regulars at the Emunah concert are getting a heads-up to hold the dates.
■ NOTHING HAS filled the print, electronic and digital media more than news of COVID-19. For those who want to know even more, Jerusalem-based clinician, epidemiologist and medical scientist Dr. Steve Sattler has put together a series of volumes under the title The Plague of 2020: How did it start? The view from an Israeli window. The series begins in December 2019, and is presented in three-month units that will at some future date serve as references for people who want to tell their children and grandchildren what they experienced.