by Eliezer Rauchberger
A Matter of Priorities
A brouhaha broke out in the Knesset two weeks ago when MKs
learned of plans to destroy Beit Frumin, the old Knesset
building in downtown Jerusalem on King George Street where
the Knesset convened for 16 years until the present Knesset
building was constructed.
The House Committee held a special meeting to discuss
preserving this building for posterity as a legacy to Am
Yisroel and the State of Israel. All of the MKs at the
meeting, without exception, voiced staunch opposition to any
plans to bring in the wrecking ball, despite a NIS 10 million
offer by a private entrepreneur.
Two former Knesset Chairmen, Dan Tichon and Shlomo Hillel,
took the trouble to come and participate in the campaign to
defend the old Knesset building. Knesset Chairman Reuven
Rivlin was also on hand, of course, saying nobody could deny
the site is symbolic.
Their campaign is indeed stirring. What a happy sight to
behold MKs mobilizing in unity for the sake of our heritage
and for the sake of history! And how good it is to behold MKs
do not relate to the building as a pile of stones or mere
cement and brick, rather they understand there are things
that have symbolic significance and that one cannot live in
the present without connecting to the past.
Yet it is deeply disturbing to note that to these MKs our
history and heritage stretches back no more than 50 years.
Why do these same MKs not mobilize en masse when the graves
where our early ancestors have lied buried for hundreds or
even thousands of years are desecrated? Do they distinguish
between one type of legacy and another? Is the history of
human beings and their remains less important than the
history of wood and stone?
Why is the Jewish people's true heritage, which began
thousands of years ago when the Torah was received on Mt.
Sinai, of no interest to these MKs? After demonstrating
history and heritage do interest them, could it be that the
history of 50-60 years ago is more important than history
reaching back hundreds or thousands of years? Is this not a
Mr. Slomiansky, Sir: What is it that symbolizes our
foundations? Beit Frumin, or the Torah given at Mt. Sinai,
613 mitzvos, the Prophets and Writings, Beis Hamikdosh,
the Tanoim and Amoroim, the Shulchan Oruch and all
of Am Yisroel's glorious past throughout the generations?
The present Knesset is unrivaled in harming lomdei
Torah and shomrei mitzvos. This Knesset and the
government have exceeded all of their predecessors in
assailing the chareidi sector, which has followed the path of
Am Yisroel's true, longstanding heritage. Not a heritage
started 50 years ago. Am Yisroel was not born with the
founding of the State of Israel.
Jerusalem Mayor Rabbi Uri Lupoliansky told the committee the
City of Jerusalem has been trying to preserve the building
for a long time but the national government refused, claiming
the Treasury lacks even the relatively minor funding required
to maintain the site.
Responding to a separate question by Roni Brown (Likud) last
week Finance Ministry Meir Shetreet said delay in moving to
the new office facilities in Kiryat Hamemshalah is costing
the country NIS 2.2 million ($500,000) per month. In other
words the State spent a huge amount to build tens of
thousands of square meters of office space, but government
workers refuse to move there, leaving them vacant.
So if somebody is looking for the small sum needed for Beit
Frumin upkeep, he could obtain it--with plenty to spare-- by
sending the government workers to occupy these empty office
rooms. This money, over NIS 25 million per year down the
drain, could also be used to fund a number of other worthy
causes, namely the weaker sectors of the population this
government has been abusing incessantly.
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