Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

15 Sivan 5761 - June 6, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Simcha Halls in Bnei Brak Under Scrutiny
by Yated Ne'eman Staff

In the wake of the great tragedy in a Yerushalayim wedding hall, municipalities throughout Israel took steps to prevent any collapses of buildings within their jurisdiction.

As a result of an emergency meeting held in the mayor's office on erev Shavuos, all owners of simcha halls in Bnei Brak were summoned for an urgent meeting immediately after Shavuos, in order to reexamine all of the building and security files, as well as each hall's emergency exits and fire extinguishing facilities.

At the emergency meeting in the mayor's office on erev Shavuos, various city officials gathered to deliberate on the various aspects and ramifications of the disaster in the Versailles simcha hall in Jerusalem on Thursday, 3 Sivan, which had claimed the lives of 23 persons and injured hundreds. The secretary of the municipality and its spokesman, Avraham Tannenbaum, said the meeting was opened by Rabbi Mordechai Karelitz, mayor of Bnei Brak, who spoke about the need for a new and immediate investigation of the city's simcha halls, public institutions and shopping centers. Rabbi Karelitz stressed that there is a need for an overall and thorough examination of the situation in the halls, especially those which are a number of stories high. The examination should include inspection of these factors: was the hall built for the purpose it currently serves; if not, when the shift to a simcha hall was made, were all of the standards and regulations met.

Also at the meeting, officials decided to check whether there are public or private structures in the city built according to the Pal-Kal method. Approximately three million square meters (30,000,000 square feet) throughout the country have been built according to this method, and a number of structures built in that manner have collapsed. However, the method of construction is not required to be listed in the file kept on the building. Within the framework of the examination, the municipality will seek the opinions of Technion engineers on this construction method.

As a result of the meeting, owners of simcha halls in the city must present all of the professional material and permits that they have. Furthermore, they must examine whether their buildings meet all rules and regulations, and whether they can withstand the immense pressure incurred during dancing, regardless of the method used in construction.

Not only must the permits be presented, but all the material will be transferred to unbiased, top-ranking construction professionals for examination, and the investigations in the halls should take place very quickly. By the same token, all of the various types of construction files, without any exception, will be examined in order to verify the professional expertise of those who signed these files and permits.

The Legal Department of the municipality was charged with ascertaining whether the procedures currently in existence for building and maintaining simcha halls meet all of the demands for follow-up and control, and whether the structures meet the practical aspects of execution and coordination.

Due to the seriousness of the issue, the emergency meeting was convened despite the erev Shavuos vacation, and all of the municipal officials were summoned. They include: Rabbi Mordechai Karelitz, the mayor; his assistant, Rabbi Yaakov Asher; Rabbi Yissochor Dov Beigel, a member of the muncipality's executive board and the head of the city's Engineering Department; Rabbi Avrohom Tannenbaum, the secretary and spokesman of the municipality; the attorneys Eliezer Kister , Shlomo Frankel and Yair Chasdiel; Deputy Municipal Engineer, Yisroel Kasten; David Amar, the director of the Construction Supervision Department; Rabbi Chanoch Zeidman, the director of the Infrastructure and Development Department; and Mr. Avrohom Blustein, the director of the Business License Department.

At the close of the meeting, it was stressed that an immediate closing order would be issued to any hall or public structure which fails to comply with the municipal demand to present all of the material and to fulfill all of their demands at the designated time.

New Stability Checks for Tel Aviv Buildings

In the neighboring Tel Aviv Municipality, it was decided on erev Shavous to add to the list of criteria to be met before granting a license to run a large business frequented by hundreds of people: presentation of signed authorization by an engineer that the structure which states that the building meets all standards and is fit to be used, irrespective of the method used in construction. Until now, the law had not required structural stability certification but the municipal authorities were permitted to request one.

The additional requirement will also become necessary for any business wishing to renew its license to operate in the city, usually an annual event.

A spokesman for the municipality, Hillel Partuk, said that approximately 200 out of several hundred such businesses operate in the city without the necessary license or are still at various stages of acquiring an operating license.


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