Grapevine: The largest mall of them all

How many shopping malls can Israel sustain? Architect David Azrieli, whose tri-tower project continues to stand out on the Tel Aviv skyline, is creating another mall in Tel Aviv.

Malha mall 521 (photo credit:
Malha mall 521
(photo credit:
■ Just how many shopping malls can Israel sustain? Architect David Azrieli, who pioneered shopping malls in this country and whose tri-tower project continues to stand out on the Tel Aviv skyline despite the many high-rise apartment buildings and office towers that have since sprung up, is in the process of creating yet another mall in Tel Aviv. It will be across the road from his three towers on the site of what was once Sarona.
At 90, Azrieli is still a bundle of energy with a fertile imagination. His new 50-story project, which will be almost totally transparent, will be the largest of its kind in Israel. It will have a seven-level underground car park that can accommodate 1,600 vehicles. Azrieli is excited because he is convinced that his creation is the last word in architectural design and technique and will bring something of unprecedented architectural beauty to Tel Aviv. The investment in the project is NIS 1.6 billion.
■ Vienna-born Rafael Halperin, who in his youth was Israel’s national karate, boxing and bodybuilding champion, later became a professional wrestler and spent several years in the United States. There, he was billed as “Mr. Israel” and was believed to have won more than 150 consecutive fights.
Halperin often evoked the displeasure of wrestling promoters and wrestling opponents, who were unhappy at his constant refusal to take a fall. He was a legitimate wrestler, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Halperin gradually became religiously observant, and after returning to Israel he opened a chain of gymnasiums, became an ordained rabbi and wrote several books, including an encyclopedia. He also established a chain of optical stores that are now managed by his five children.
Halperin was also a philanthropist and a well-known and beloved figure in Bnei Brak where he lived, and where he died on August 20 last year at age 87. One of his philanthropic causes was the ZAKA Bereavement Fund, which helps out families during the week of mourning and supplies all their needs.
On the first anniversary of his passing in accordance with the Hebrew calendar date, a Torah scroll was completed in his memory and donated by his family to the ZAKA Bereavement Fund so that mourners who do not have Torah scrolls in their homes could take advantage of it. Among the people who attended the festive completion of the scroll and the memorial dinner for Halperin that followed were Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, MK Avraham Michaeli, ZAKA founder Yehuda Meshi-Zahav and Bnei Brak notables headed by Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky and Mayor Ya’acov Asher.
The final letters of the scroll were written in the headquarters of Halperin Optics, from where there was a huge procession led by a ZAKA motorcycle convoy, dancing children, torch bearers and a band. It wound through the streets of Bnei Brak to the Netivot Olam synagogue and study center, where there was even greater merriment before everyone proceeded to a Bnei Brak banquet hall for a sumptuous dinner.
■ Not everyone born with a silver spoon in his mouth takes it for granted.
Some offspring of affluent parents want to do their own thing and make their way in life independent of parental wealth. A case in point is string instrumentalist Uri Rakib, the son of hi-tech entrepreneur Zaki Rakib, who was briefly chairman of Ma’ariv, taking over from Ofer Nimrodi in May 2010 and, less than a year later, transferred the chairmanship of the financially ailing tabloid to Nochi Dankner, who took over the running of Ma’ariv through his Discount Investment company. Nimrodi had been given a running start in business by his father, and the Dankners are an old-money family.
Though Uri Rakib could just as easily receive support from his father, he would rather play for coins in the street than rely on his father’s generosity.
At 26, he can still take the time to be adventurous. He started out as a street musician in Manhattan, then in Tel Aviv, and he’s currently in Berlin. It’s an interesting way to see the world.
■ Aware of the fact that the terrorist attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse in March has spurred interest among French Jews in immigrating to Israel, Ya’acov Hagoel, who heads the World Zionist Organization’s Department for Activities in Israel and for Countering Anti-Semitism Worldwide, decided to hold an aliya fair in Netanya’s Independence Square before the huge influx of French tourists returned home after the summer vacation.
Many French Jews have relatives in Israel, and many of those relatives live in Netanya, where most shops and restaurants have signs in French and where some bookstores stock as many books, magazines and newspapers in French as in Hebrew. The fair was held on Tuesday with the participation of public and commercial institutions and enterprises such as banks, real estate companies, student organizations and universities, to answer questions about anything that a prospective immigrant would want to know.