After nearly 20 years in Talbiyeh, the AACI is moving to a new, bigger home.
By BATSHEVA POMERANTZPublished: FEBRUARY 26, 2010 17:05Advertisement
Members of the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel (AACI) have been benefiting from its services and programs for 57 years. Now, members and volunteers alike are pleased with this week’s move from Talbiyeh to new premises in Talpiot.“The move to Talpiot is a change for the better. People are excited about it, since there will be more room,” says veteran member Yehuda Brumberg of Ramot, who made aliya from New York in 1969. He was assisted by AACI in his first years through its counseling services where he learned about rights and laws and the changing of status. He also received a loan from AACI.“On occasion I’ve attended their programs like concerts and lectures, classes in Tai Chi and Shakespeare. AACI programs are on such a high level that other English speakers are attracted, not only North Americans.”Brumberg worked for the police for 21 years as a counselor. “After I left the police, I saw the need for a support group for single parents. I’ve been facilitating this group for five years as a volunteer. The parents who participate have gone through a hard time usually following divorce, and sometimes widowhood.”As a major facilitator for more than 50 years in the absorption of thousands of English speakers in Israel, the AACI’s move to its new premises will further ease access to its many services and enhance the scope of its programs to members and visitors to its spacious quarters.AACI’s new home is on the fourth floor of the building at the corner of Rehov Pierre Koenig 37 and Poalei Tzedek, opposite the Hadar Mall. The office is accessible by elevator, and parking is available around the building, both free and metered.“We chose to relocate to Talpiot, as this area is easily accessible by car or public transportation,” says David London, executive director of the AACI. It is near Arnona, Baka and Katamon, neighborhoods with many English-speaking residents, and not far from the tunnels road from Gush Etzion communities, which have many English speakers.“In addition to being a popular commercial center, Talpiot has also become a center for nonprofit organizations,” says London. An AACI neighbor in the building is El Halev (for women’s empowerment). It is also near the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, Melabev’s new center for English-speaking senior citizens and the Israel Free Loan Society.AACI’s national headquarters and the local Jerusalem branch have merged into one working space, “making work more efficient and saving costs, too,” according to London. “Plans to move have been under way for many years when it was evident that the Talbiyeh headquarters located in a residential area were far too compact for the many AACI activities.”The new offices, designed by architect David Kupietzky, are spread out on 1,300 square meters. “Building contractor Shai Kassula insisted on top quality of all aspects of the building,” says London. “In line with AACI members’ involvement in environmental issues, the construction materials are environmentally friendly.”A large reception area greets the visitor at the entrance. In adjoining offices, counselors will assist members with updated information about living in Israel. As the largest resource center for English speakers in Israel, AACI assists members of any immigrant status, be they new and veteran olim, returning residents or tourists.“I feel that I’m part of an amazing outreach program that provides information, counseling and interesting programs,” says Diane Greenberg, who volunteers regularly at the front desk. Coming to Israel from England as a young adult in 1967, she became a member in 2006. “At the front desk, I help people with information that I know. If not, I refer them to counselors with more professional knowledge. I meet people of all ages from many English-speaking countries.”In a separate niche, job seekers have access to computer stations linked to job resources. The UJIA immigrant association for olim from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Scandinavia also has an office on the premises.A sound system will quietly broadcast live from the studio of the Rusty Mike Radio located at AACI. Rusty Mike Radio is an Internet radio station for the English-speaking community in Israel and abroad.The AACI-Jerusalem branch and the four other AACI branches in Tel Aviv, Netanya, Haifa and Beersheba are known for their many cultural and social programs. The new Jerusalem facilities will enable AACI to greatly expand these activities. Its large hall can seat approximately 200 people or can be divided into three separate program rooms. In addition, another multipurpose room and a smaller meeting room are available.“Now in its new premises, the AACI will have a spacious area for its activities in Talpiot – a popular area,” says Elisheva Lahav. She made aliya from New Jersey in 1971. “I was an AACI member on and off from the beginning and rejoined 15 years ago,”she says.The extra space of the new premises will enable such programs as art exhibitions, children’s activities, movies and theater productions. “This area can be used for small productions or can be rented out for small events,” says London. When people attend cultural events in the evening, they will circumvent the office area by going around a long veranda lined with tables and chairs.An outcome of the move to the larger premises in Talpiot will be AACI’s partnership with the AMIT library, which is moving its books from its smaller quarters in Talpiot. The merged AMIT-AACI library means more space for thousands of English books of various genres. In a separate room, members will find the AACI Mary & Ben Cohen Library for the Visually Impaired and Homebound for English speakers. The library has a large selection of English-language books on audiotape, CDs, journals, and large-print books.A series of opening ceremonies in March, open to the public, will host well-known members of the English-speaking community in Israel. At the grand opening event on March 7, Jerusalem Post editor-in-chief David Horovitz and former columnist Saul Singer, co-author of Start-Up Nation, are scheduled to speak. On March 16, recently appointed High Court Justice Neal Hendel, originally from the US, will speak in honor of the opening.On March 17, at the official naming of the building, the Israel Opera will perform. The new premises, officially dedicated in honor of Dr. Max and Gianna Glassman, will be called the AACI Dr. Max and Gianna Glassman Family Center.To mark the move to its new home, a wide array of mainly free programming for the entire family will be offered to members and non-members from Jerusalem and elsewhere from March 7 to 20. Among them are parent and children workshops, lectures on insurance and health, fitness classes, concerts, open mike night, and a Meet the Author series.The AACI and the Jerusalem Municipality Absorption Authority recently published Avnei Yerushalaim, a guide to living in Jerusalem. It was sent to AACI members in Jerusalem, as well as to emissaries in all English-speaking countries. Mayor Nir Barkat will take it with him on trips overseas to publicize the city. The booklet provides information on employment, education, mortgages, health care and culture in Jerusalem. In addition, nearly 40 neighborhoods are profiled, with e-mail addresses of volunteer representatives.“Although the former building in Talbiyeh is a historical building with atmosphere,” says Greenberg, “we were restricted in our activities. The new place will have more room and is designed to meet our needs. Talpiot is in the heart of things.”AACI reopened in its new home in Talpiot at the corner of Rehov Pierre Koenig 37 and Poalei Tzedek on February 23. The phone number remains the same: 566-1181.
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