Grapevine: Leket Israel HQ suffers fire, but work continues

Firefighters spent two hours putting out the blaze at Israel’s main logistics center in Ra’anana caused by an electrical short.

Empty Classroom (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Empty Classroom
■ JUST UNDER two weeks ago, fire ravaged Leket Israel’s main logistics center in Ra’anana.
According to Leket founder and chairman Joseph Gitler, evidence suggests the fire was caused by an electrical short; thankfully, no one was injured.
Firefighters spent two hours putting out the blaze. The damage to both the interior and exterior was considerable but fortunately the building was insured and inspection of the premises two weeks earlier, including checks by an electrical engineer, had indicated all was in order.
Gitler promised the damage would not impact on Leket’s work. “Tens of thousands of needy people are reliant on Leket Israel for assistance on a daily basis, and we will not let them down,” he said. “On the day after the fire, we commenced looking for alternative storage space in central Israel.
This, together with our warehouse near Haifa and leased cold storage space in Kiryat Malachi, will meet our needs in the interim.”
With a lapse of a couple of days, Leket Israel began distributing food again and is now fully functional, serving 140,000 people throughout the country. Restoration of the Ra’anana logistics center has already began, and Gitler is optimistic the work will be completed before the end of the year.
■ FOR MANY years, it was almost a tradition in Israel that in the week to 10 days prior to the scheduled opening of the new school year, teachers’ unions would threaten to strike unless specific changes were made in their collective agreements, or replacement teachers were given tenure. This year, it is not the teachers who are creating problems, but Hamas.
Although Education Minister Shai Piron has stated classes in all schools will resume on September 1, most mayors in the South have declared that without proper shelters, schools in their regions and municipalities will not open on time.
At the forefront of the move to give greater priority to the safety of children than to their education is Ashdod Mayor Yehiel Lasry, who initially said he would not allow schools without shelters to open in time for the new school year.
Other mayors followed his lead, and indeed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has also put safety concerns ahead of education – announcing that southern schools without shelters will not open. Meanwhile with on-again, off-again declarations of a cease-fire, Lasry has decided to make a final decision on the opening of schools next Sunday, when he has a clearer picture of developments.
In the interim, Michal Cohen, director-general of the Education Ministry, has met with the mayors of southern communities to discuss options other than the classroom to ensure children do receive lessons; one option is online classes via remote control. Depending on the security situation, thousands of children in the South who had been eagerly looking forward to their first day of kindergarten or first grade may have to wait a little longer than anticipated. In any case, the number of kindergarten teachers throughout the country will be augmented by some 1,000 young women who have opted to do civilian national service, rather than join the IDF.
■ ISRAELI FILMS are doing so well at local and international film festivals that higher education institutes are now placing greater emphasis on teaching all aspects of cinema production.
The Midrasha for the Arts at Beit Berl College, on the outskirts of Kfar Saba, is introducing courses in cinema studies on a par with similar courses provided by leading European educational institutions. The intensive two-year course includes directing for feature films and documentaries, photography, editing, sound tracks and production. In addition, all students of the course will be required to produce short feature films and short documentaries. Headed by Naomi Shachory, it will include workshops and will be integrated into a first-degree course towards a bachelor of education with a film major.