Grapevine: Too-tall towers

Tall towers dominate the skyline, closing out the horizon.

A construction site in the neighborhood of Har Nof, Jerusalem. Nov 18, 2015 (photo credit: HALLEL MEIR/TPS)
A construction site in the neighborhood of Har Nof, Jerusalem. Nov 18, 2015
(photo credit: HALLEL MEIR/TPS)
■ Neighborhoods in Jerusalem are rapidly undergoing change. Lower buildings are being torn down to make room for high-rise multi-purpose structures. Many people are unhappy about this situation because the character of the neighborhood influenced their decision when they purchased the apartments that they live in.
Now the character of neighborhoods is changing. Tall towers dominate the skyline, closing out the horizon. Roads are being dug up to make way for light rail infrastructure, pedestrians have to keep avoiding bikes and scooters whizzing along the pavements, and trees are being cut down in some places to enable the widening of roads.
Curiously, protests about such changes are seldom effective. Developers are given permits to build, and sometimes when they are not given permits, they go ahead with their plans anyway.
The rare instances in which protests are effective is when someone wants to build an institution such as a retirement home, a yeshiva or a facility for people with special needs.
For some strange reason, many suburbanites do not want such buildings in their neighborhood. It’s not as if the residents pose a threat to anyone or go en masse on shopping expeditions or to attend a local lecture. They have ample social and cultural activities in their own premises, and when they go out, they go like any person living in an apartment complex – alone, or with a friend or neighbor.
Every neighborhood has a few residents in wheelchairs or who get around with the aid of a walker. So why should it make a difference if there is a sheltered living facility in which they can receive better care than at home alone?
One person who has taken it upon herself to at least try to learn what the proposed changes are and how they will affect the lives of people in her area is Bernice Fogel, who lives opposite Sokolov Park.
She’s been in touch with relevant officials in the municipality, in the District Planning Committee and elsewhere. She’s spoken to the architects responsible for changes in her neighborhood and they have proved to be cooperative and willing to make small amendments to their plans when problems that she points out make sense to them.
But she understands that other people may have other ideas, and before it’s too late, she wants them to have the opportunity to hear what’s in store and to either agree or raise objections.
She will be attending a meeting with Ginot Ha’Ir’s urban planners at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, January 14 at 53 Hapalmach St. The meeting affects residents from the German and Greek Colonies, Talbieh, Yemin Moshe, Katamon, Kiryat Shmuel, Nayot, Rehavia and Sha’are Hesed. It is therefore in the interests of residents to attend, and Fogel suggests that they do, because any objections they have at a later stage may be pointless.
For questions in advance of the meeting contact Miri Tal-Atlas on 050-620-2441 or [email protected] The meeting will be conducted in English.
■ IT’S UNDERSTANDABLE that the 75th anniversary year next month of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau is creating great interest in Holocaust history. There is also greater diversity in subject matter related to the Holocaust, especially in Holocaust-era songs and music. Some of these creations are sad. Others are rebellious, and others testify to the fact that there were people who maintained their faith under the most godless and inhuman of conditions.
The best-known tune for the centuries-old “Ani Ma’amin” (“I Believe”), which expresses faith in the coming of the Messiah, is a haunting melody attributed to Azriel David Fastag a Mosziter Hassid, who in a cattle car on the way to Treblinka where he met his death, was inspired by the rhythm of the train. Fastag had frequently composed tunes that were sung in the court of the Modziter Rebbe Shaul Yedidya Elazar, whose disciples had succeeded in spiriting him out of Europe in 1940. Legend has it that Fastag offered half of his share in the world to come to anyone who learned the tune and brought it to the Rebbe. Two men agreed and jumped from the train. One died, the other survived and brought the tune to the Rebbe’s son, who was living in the Land of Israel, had the melody written down and sent it to his father.
At 2 p.m. on January 26, Dr. Zvi Zemel of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance will present a lecture at the National Library on how the orchestra in the Terezin Ghetto functioned and was used as camouflage when the Red Cross came to inspect conditions under which prisoners lived.