Grapevine: A mall with mass appeal

  • BUSINESSMAN AND real estate developer Alfred Akirov held up the construction of the Akirov Mamilla Mall in Jerusalem for eight years because of the bureaucratic hassles to which he was subjected. The scaffolding of the project was a long-time eyesore on the capital's skyline, especially in relation to the adjacent David Citadel Hotel which is also owned by Akirov and, like the mall, was also designed by world-renowned Israeli architect Moshe Safdie. At one stage, Akirov said that as a result of the Mamilla experience, he would never invest in Jerusalem again. But at the opening of the mall a couple of years back, he said it was his greatest project ever and has been investing in it ever since. Although the mall is full of fancy stores and restaurants and now a newly opened boutique hotel, Akirov has been making sure that there is something in the mall for the less affluent sectors of society, so he has filled the premises with free activities such as art exhibitions on the promenade and concerts in the mall's amphitheater. Last week, to herald in the summer nights season, there was also the screening of a movie on the walls of the Old City that face the rear of the mall. There were also Segway tours and walking tours with thousands of people crowding in for the free enjoyment, which included an art show and musical entertainment. Akirov and his wife, Hava, invited friends and colleagues to join them for the occasion, including many non-Jerusalemites. Guests included Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov, Soli Sakal, whose family runs stores at Ben-Gurion Airport as well as elsewhere in the country, plus numerous Jerusalem personalities such as Ariela Shmida Doron, who chairs the Jerusalem Hotels Association, and lawyers Yehuda and Tammy Raveh. There will be free events at the mall every Thursday night from 6 p.m. onwards throughout the summer months.
  • AMONG THE 232 North American olim who arrived on the Nefesh B'nefesh flight on Tuesday were relatives of Zvi Raviv, the former director of the New Jerusalem Fund. Raviv and his wife, Sheila, were delighted to welcome Jacobo and Rachel Hans and their three children. Also on the flight were Yehuda and Aviva Zuller from Staten Island, New York, who named their son Gilad in solidarity with Gilad Schalit, who was captured a week prior to the baby's birth. Gilad Zuller has just celebrated his third birthday.
  • FORMER ISRAEL ambassador to the US David Ivri, who was the Israel Air Force commander at the time of the bombing of Iraq's reactor, was filmed last week for the Begin Center's Kadishai Archives, which receive depositions, testimonies and other material from persons connected to the legacy and lifework of Menachem Begin. In addition to giving a long, informative interview, Ivri provided documents on aspects of the decision to bomb the reactor and of the operation itself.
  • FORMER CALIFORNIANS Dorraine and Barry Weiss of Jerusalem love to entertain. When they lived in the US they were always throwing parties, not just for their friends but for a wide circle of organizations and institutions with which they were affiliated. They often didn't know who was going to attend, and that's more or less what happened this week when they agreed to host an evening in support of Moshe Feiglin, who hasn't given up on his dream of becoming the leader of Likud. The Weisses invited a few of their own friends, but the bulk of the invitations were sent out by Feiglin's people. The event attracted a full house, much to the delight of the gregarious hosts who instantly made new friends. Feiglin, who is quite an effective speaker in English, said that politics in Israel is being used not as a system but as a language, and charged that Israel is not really the democratic state it claims to be.