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December 21, 2014 / 29 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Ramat Gan’

My Park

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

I grew up a few blocks from the Ramat Gan National Park, a man made urban park, which isn’t really national, with a nice, little man made lake. It’s only 0.7 square miles, but when I was growing up it was plenty.

Googlemaps screen shot

Googlemaps screen shot

On summer afternoons, my dad would come home early from work and we’d drive over, rent a boat (you had to leave your watch as deposit in the rental booth, to make sure you didn’t steal your boat, which occasionally made it difficult to come back on time).

They made the artificial lake in 1959, and dad and I were regulars there. They also built a restaurant in the middle of the lake (see top picture), which I don’t think ever actually operated. I could be wrong. Throughout my childhood it was just this cement shell you’d circle with your rowboat.

I suppose some ideas need to be thought through better. But the park continues to be a source of safe fun for the locals. It’s gotten more Haredi in recent years, but it’s still as happy as it used to be, I think. I don’t go there much these days, since we live in Netanya. I don’t know if they still rent boats. I should take my daughter one day and check it out.

The local ducks and the cats are very happy.

ducks in the park

Special Baby Born in Ramat Gan

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Mazel Tov is in order for a special new mother in Ramat Gan.

A rare Brazilian tapir, “Pessiflora”, has given birth to a son at the Ramat Gan Safari Park.

Father, Meir, has been moved to a separate enclosure until he overcomes his jealousy for the new arrival.

The unnamed baby was born after a 13-month pregnancy and is enjoying the attention of his mother and older sister, Papaya.

He was born with white stripes which will fade as he matures.

Ramat Gan, Home of Happy Hippos

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

The Ramat Gan Safari hippo lake has been home for many years to a large herd of animals and many birds. Over time, the water level in the lake dropped and its floor became very muddy and full of hippo droppings.

Those can really add up: some parts of the lake got as shallow as half a meter where it was once three meters deep.

Last year, Safari General Manager Yehuda Bar decided that it was time to deepen the lake. It took a bulldozer a few days to dig out and remove huge amounts of mud, which were transferred to the south side of the African Park. During this time, the hippos remained in a smaller area of the lake where there was enough water

Now that the lake floor has been deepened and filled with fresh water, the hippos could go back to wallow in it.

New Cats

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

The trio of lion brothers Danny, Michael and Jacob at the Ramat Gan safari. March 21, 2007.

The Zoological Center Tel Aviv – Ramat Gan or “Safari” occupies 250 acres of nature in the heart of a densely populated urban area in Israel: “Africa in the heart of Israel.”

The Safari has the largest animal collection in the Middle East and is unique in the world because of the large herds of mixed species of African animals that roam the spacious African Park. The African Park and the zoo are home to 1,600 animals of different species, amongst them 68 species of mammals, 130 species of fowl, and 25 species of reptiles.

Bnei Brak: A City Worth Building For

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

   “If I want to just be a good mayor, I could fix the roads and pick up the garbage,” says Yakov Asher, the new mayor of Bnei Brak, Israel, in an exclusive interview at the editorial offices of The Jewish Press. “But there’s so much more we can do.”

 

   If Asher sounds like he’s not your typical – or stereotypical – haredi mayor, his several-month record as mayor, as well as his record as deputy mayor, confirms that impression. When Asher came into office last December after 20 years of working in Bnei Brak’s municipal government, he inherited a 270 million shekel deficit. He immediately struck a deal with the Israeli government. They agreed to give Bnei Brak 165 million shekel (part loan and part grant), and he committed to erasing the deficit by the end of 2009. Seven months into his term, he’s well on his way to fulfilling that promise.

 

   Modern Bnei Brak was founded as an agricultural settlement in 1924 by Rabbi Yitzchok Gerstenkorn and a group of Polish chassidim. Due to a lack of land, many of its founders turned to other occupations, and the village began to develop an urban character. It lies in the Gush Dan district of which Tel Aviv is the largest city, between Ramat Gan and Petach Tikvah.

 

   At the time of the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Bnei Brak’s population stood at some 8,000. By 1950, it received city status, and its population grew in leaps and bounds, buildings sprouting up from all sides where the orange orchards had once been located. Immigrants from Europe and the Middle East poured in and new neighborhoods were established. Just 10 years after the establishment of the state, the population had swelled to some 40,000 Jews.

 

   Currently, Bnei Brak’s population of about 160,000 gives it the largest population density of any city in Israel. Bnei Brak is renowned as the largest haredi Jewish center in the world and is famed for its many yeshivas and chassidic communities. The famous Chazon Ish settled in Bnei Brak, and many credit its rapid increase into an important religious city, in large measure, to him.

 

   Recently, Asher visited the U.S. to publicize a new vision for Bnei Brak’s future – development that he hopes will help make the city financially independent as well as a more inviting place for local residents to spend their leisure time. The plans call for several office towers in the northern part of the city, bordering and overlapping the neighboring city of Ramat Gan. Two of these towers are already standing (one of them is in Bnei Brak and the other is in Ramat Gan) and the mayor hopes to start the building on several more soon.

 

   The office towers would greatly aid Bnei Brak by bringing in millions of dollars each year in tax revenue. Last year alone, the Bnei Brak tower, dubbed Besser One after the development company that built it, brought in $8 million. Asher estimates that the tower has about 200 companies in its 32 stories.

 

 

 

Mayor Yakov Asher showing a picture of the development plans for Bnei Brak

 

 

   The second part of the mayor’s plan is to add more green space to Bnei Brak, specifically with a large park that will include a man-made lake, also in the northern section of the city. As Asher put it, many residents would feel more comfortable spending their family leisure time among Israelis who are modestly dressed and share the same cultural sensitivities. Of course, on its own, parks and green spaces are important for a city whose population is so heavily skewed towards the young. Out of a total population of 160,000, there are 100,000 children and young adults, between the ages of 0-22.

 

   However, the economic climate has made it very difficult for Asher to get Besser or any other development company to commit to building more towers. So the mayor has set up a development fund. Asher is looking for philanthropists who would like to join this cause. He also wants “to interest Americans who may be interested in locating their Israel-based operations to consider the new office towers in Bnei Brak.”

 

   From his point of view and that of the city’s other leaders of the past 15 years, this is the fulfillment of an urban dream – the development of a modern industrial zone for the city which, he says, will free it of its dependence on grants of millions of shekels from the Interior Ministry. But financial independence is not Asher’s only goal; he hopes this development will turn Bnei Brak into a city that will enjoy a considerable addition to its municipal budget, and as a corollary, a rise in the standard of living in the city.

 

   “If this plan is put into operation, we will become super-independent,” he says. “There are two stages here: an industrial zone in the north [a plan that has already been approved] will lead us to economic independence in the near future. The new plan will lead us to independence plus. We wish to run our lives and not be managed by someone else, and for that we have to have jobs. It’s not possible that what is good for Ramat Gan, the stock exchange compound, will not be good for Bnei Brak, too. Our time has come.”

 

   The area in question is located next to the Ayalon mall and constitutes the last large reserve of land in the city. It is bordered by the Yarkon River in the north (on the other side are the Tel Aviv neighborhoods of Kiryat Atidim and Ramat Hahayal), Sheshet Hayamim Street (which becomes Em Hamoshavot Road east of that) to the south, Mivtza Kadesh Street to the west, and Route No. 4 on the eastern side.

 

   The compound encompasses an area of some 350 acres, part of which currently houses factories, offices and businesses. This large tract allows for massive construction – up to 16 million square feet, most of it in high-rise towers of 15 to 30 stories, which will be used for commerce, offices, services and high-tech industry. Some 1.6 million square feet will be earmarked for public buildings. The high-rise construction will be graded nearby the park, where buildings will not exceed five stories.

 

   One of the jewels in the plan is the park that will stretch across the compound’s entire northern area, close to the Yarkon River. “It was clear that the development of the Yarkon park and its bank would be one of the plan’s focal points,” says architect Eli Furst, from the urban planning firm that drew up the plan. The residents of Bnei Brak are desperately in need of open spaces, Furst says, and the park will be accessible “through a system of pedestrian paths that will join the city of Bnei Brak with the other side of the Yarkon above Sheshet Hayamim Road and will end at the piazzas, from where pedestrians will once again pass through green routes to the Yarkon. These are indirect and safe traffic routes.”

 

   According to Ezra Friedlander, CEO of The Friedlander Group, an American public relations firm, the mayor’s visit was important in establishing the goals of his Development Fund for Bnei Brak.

 

   For more information on the fund, please contact Ezra Friedlander at 718-436-5555 x101 or via e-mail at BneiBrak@FriedlandergroupPR.com 

True Role Models (Part Eighteen)

Wednesday, April 6th, 2005

This is the 18th part of this series on Aliyah and Klita (absorption) stories of American Jews who came to Israel for ideological and religious reasons in the past years. The purpose of the series is to emphasize the quality of the early Olim to Israel from America and to disprove the thesis that Olim in the early years of the state were unsuccessful shnorrers. Many of us Orthodox Zionists have been very disappointed in the negative attitude of non-religious Jews towards settlers but, despite the vote against the referendum, we have faith that Israel will grow and prosper rather than shrink and wither. Come help us grow.

Myrna Frankel was born and raised in New York City which, she feels, is such a fantastic place to live that she would still be there if Israel had not been beckoning to her all the days of her life. Her love for Israel and Zionism began in 1947 when her oldest brother volunteered for work in the Haganah, bringing the illegal ships to Palestine. His ship, the Geula, was captured and returned to Cyprus, but he was saved by other members of the Haganah who smuggled him off the ship while it was in port. She became an ardent Bnei Akivanik in her teenage years, and was committed to making Aliya. Her work for the Educational and Recreational Association took her behind the “Iron Curtain” in 1965 in the capacity of assistant director responsible for the first Jewish group (as a group) to visit the “Iron Curtain” countries. A short but fateful visit to Auschwitz cemented her decision that despite the difficulties in getting there, Israel was the one and only home for her as a Jew.

Her dream came true in 1973 when she and her husband and their two little children packed their bags and flew to Israel, exactly one month before the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War. Myrna is a graduate of Brooklyn College and her husband is a graduate of Yeshiva University. Her husband was at the height of his career as a computer consultant when they had to decide whether they were ready to go into business and invest 5-10 years to make enough money to make Aliya, or to go when the children were still little enough to become ‘Israeli” more easily than they would as teenagers, and take their chances on finding new employment. They opted to come on Aliyah and have never looked back in the 31 years that they have been here.

Today Myrna works in interior design. Three of her four children work in education: Her eldest is an English teacher. Her second daughter has been working in hi-tech for eight years. Her third and fourth children work in informal education, leading birthright groups, tour guiding, Israel Experience, Zionist Seminars, and other educational programs. All four have graduated from universities in Israel. Myrna has seven grandchildren – all in Israel and all contributing to the growth of our phenomenal homeland. Ken Yirbu! (see family picture)

* * *

Jeremy Ben-David grew up in a suburb of London and qualified (with honors) as a Civil Engineer. He was an active member of Bnei Akiva and in 1984 he accomplished his dream of coming to live in Israel. He made Aliyah as a young man of 23, for ideological reasons. Israel was always a part of his growing-up identity.

In 1985, he entered the field of Intellectual Property and he received his Israeli Patent Attorney license in 1987. In 1995, he founded the Jerusalem firm of Jeremy M. Ben-David and Co. Ltd. His father came on board as his partner in 1996. This year, the company he founded was cited as the 6th largest Patent Attorney firm nationally by Dun and Bradstreet (out of about 30 firms in Israel).

Jeremy grew up in Kingsbury, a suburb of London. During his teen years he was very active in Bnei Akiva, at the branch level, the national/regional level, and, of course, at Bnei Akiva camps. After leaving school he did not go to Hachshara, but went for a year to Yeshivat Keren B’Yavne, before going back to England to obtain a B.S. in Civil Engineering. In 1984, he made Aliyah with a British Bnei Akiva Garin, ‘Yeter’, to Kibbutz Alumim. His first act was to change his name from Davis to Ben-David. It was on kibbutz that he met his first wife, Gail Bleiberg, who was a volunteer at that time. Gail is from New York, and has an MA in Math. On deciding to marry, they left kibbutz and went to live in Jerusalem. Soon after, in 1988, they moved to Givat Zeev, with their one-year-old daughter Tal. During the next few years they had four girls, Tal, Tamar, Michal and Nava, now aged 11-17.

Jeremy’s parents made Aliyah in January 1985, and went to live in the then brand-new neighborhood of Ramot Bet. They have been living in the same house for 20 years. In 1985, after leaving the kibbutz, Jeremy was unable to find a job in civil engineering since that was the nadir of the slump in construction. Jeremy started working for a patent attorney in Rehovot, where his father also had started to work. After obtaining his patent attorney license in 1987, Jeremy continued to work for the patent attorney in Rehovot. After that, he worked for a Tel Aviv law firm for a couple of years. On Lag BaOmer, in 1995, at the time when the internet and e-mail had just become available publicly, Jeremy went off on his own, as a single practitioner, renting a small office in Ramat Gan. In early 1996, his father (who until that time had still been working for the patent attorney in Rehovot), came on board as his partner.

After renting their present premises in Har-Hotzvim in 1998, Jeremy’s firm grew to about 22 employees, but the sudden downturn in the economy forced the company to shrink to 16 employees. They have started again to expand cautiously, as the economy shows signs of recovery.

Jeremy also became involved in the Zu Artzeinu movement. In 1995 he divided his time between the office in Ramat Gan and arranging for erection of a hillside outpost near Givat Zeev. On one hot day in August/Av, several hundred people from Givat Zeev marched to the slopes of Nebi Samuel and pitched tents and picnic tables. They were reinforced by residents of nearby Ramot. This euphoric event lasted over two nights, with many visitors making their way to the site during the intervening day, the most notable of which was MK Rehavam Zeevi (z”l). By the second morning, only a handful were left to face the radio journalists and the army that was sent to evacuate them. Jeremy remembers making an impassioned statement to Galei Zahal (which he later heard broadcast) that they would return, come what may, but they never did.

In 1999, Jeremy cooperated with a business associate and friend to establish a software company that would revolutionize the way that patent attorney firms worked. Everyone loved the concept, but, like so many other hi-tech dreams, it floundered and died. In the meantime, many of his basic concepts are being used worldwide. They were right in their thinking, but they developed it before its time.

Jeremy and Gail divorced at the beginning of 2003, although he continued to live in Givat Zeev. Jeremy recently married Susie Weiss (nee Diamond), originally from Baltimore, who has been in Israel for 25 years, 18 of which have been in Maale Adumim. During the last seven years Susie has worked for Jeremy’s firm. She has four sons: Daniel, Nachie, Avichai and Eitan, aged 16-24. Jeremy’s four girls are all still in school. The eldest one will go to learn for a year in Midrasha before going into the army. Susie’s four boys are doing a variety of things. Daniel is married and has just started studying medicine. Nachie is just finishing off the army in the Golani brigade. Avichai is studying in yeshiva in Eilat before going into the army, and Eitan is still at high school.

So, even after being in Israel for over 20 years, Jeremy is still occupied with making beginnings. But right now, he feels that he is in a good place, and he wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

To Be Continued

Comments may be sent to dov@gilor.com 

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/true-role-models-part-eighteen/2005/04/06/

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