First synagogue facing Temple Mount to be built

The synagogue will be built as a part of a neighborhood containing a hotel with 150 rooms and 475 apartments overlooking the Mount.

illus  (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The only synagogue in the world overlooking the Temple Mount will be built in the High Commissioner's Residence neighborhood in the southern part of Jerusalem. The project, titled 'Nof Zion' (view of Zion) is run by the Digal company, owned by Yehuda Levi and Meir Shamir. The NIS six million investment was made entirely by donations of contractors and others. The synagogue will be built as a part of a neighborhood containing a hotel with 150 rooms and 475 apartments overlooking the Mount. The synagogue, which will have a dome over it, will be two kilometers from the Temple Mount, but no building will obstruct the prayers from the holy location, and they will feel as if they are standing right next to it. The synagogue will be constructed by the "Bnei Zion Association" led by Yehuda Levi and his wife Betty. Levi himself will donate a part of the required amount and the Association hopes to raise the rest of the funds from donors in Israel and abroad. The construction pace and opening date will be determined by the rate in which the donations are collected. The synagogue will contain two 350-seat halls, for Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews, built mainly for neighborhood residents. The architect is David Nophar. In addition, Digal is building stage A of the neighborhood, 91 apartments in six-story buildings. So far around 30 apartments have been sold, including three 140 sq. meter penthouses with 60 sq. meter balconies sold for about $550,000 each. The four room apartments were sold for $400,000. 75% of the buyers are foreign residents mainly from the US. During Passover, the model apartment will be inaugurated in a ceremony attended by Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger. Digal bought from the Jerusalem based contractor, Ovadia Levi, an area for building 395 apartments in 1999. In addition, the company purchased the adjacent area from the Israel Land Administration for the purpose of building a 230-room hotel. The company wishes to modify the city housing plans so that the hotel will have 150 rooms. The rest will be transformed into 80 luxury apartments that will have a million dollar price tag. The construction has just recently begun due to the prolonged planning and authorization procedures. Ashtrom is the main contractor of the first 91 apartments, in a key contract worth NIS 46 million. Digal will build the next stages of the project based on the progress of the sales. Digal has raised NIS 60 million in the stock market last year through the issuing of debenture and NIS 17 million in bond issuing. Levi, 51 years of age, owns 36.5% of Digal. Mivtach-Shamir Real-Estate, owned by Meir Shamir, owns 34%. The rest of the stocks are owned by the public in the stock market. The CEO of Digal is attorney Dror Kave (son of Bar-Ilan University president Moshe Kave). The site will be built on a boardwalk, which will be named "Levi Boardwalk" after the leading entrepreneur's parent's name. Investment in a site in Bucharest Another project of Digal's, with partners, is the building of a 26-story residential and office tower in Shadal street 8 in Tel-Aviv. The tower will be built on an area of 7,000 sq. meters, of which 75% for office spaces and 75% of the top floors for residence. The site and project are owned by the Head-Masters company, which is 50% owned by Digal, 25% by attorney Israel Shimonov and 25% by realtor Rafi Kalina of Zahala (recently entering entrepreneurship). There is still no detailed business plan. Head-Masters also owns two parking towers in Tel-Aviv, one on Yavne Street and the other on Nachmani Street 16, in which there is a total of 200 parking spaces. Head-Masters entered a bid issued by Mizrahi-Tefahot Bank six months ago for selling the plot on the corner of Rothschild and Nachalat Binyamin, but it didn't win the bid. According to reports, Arkadi Gaidamak won the bid for $26 million, and he intends to build an office and residential tower on the plot. Recently, Digal purchased 50% of a 0.56 acre area for building 150 apartments in quarter 2 of Bucharest. The company paid 2.8 million euros for an area on the plot. The additional 50% of the plot is owned by a local entrepreneur. Digal and its Romanian partner plan to invest 10 million euros in the project. The partnership agreement states that Digal will invest 80% of the total investment, and the Romanian partner will invest 20% in addition to managing the area. The Romanian partner will receive 50% of the profits for his part in the project, management and bringing in the deal.