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Photography & Editing: Igal Morag Music: “The Autumn Leaves” the Memorial Monument Dedicated to the victims of the September 11th terrorists attack in the United States
Like millions of people around the world, glued to their television sets, the artist Eliez e r Weishoff and his wife sat in disbelief and shock as they watched the New York World Trade Center Twin Towers sustain the impact of a jet plane, commandeered by Al Quaida terrorists, flying through them on September 11, 2001, causing them to come crashing down. For more information on the terrorist attack, please click - here
Following a request by the Israel Coins & Medals Corp. to the noted artist Eliezer Weishoff- internationally acknowledged as a designer of medals and stamps, as well as paintings, sculptures, installations and other works of art in Israel and abroad - to create a medal honoring the victims of this horrific event, Weishoff decided that an event of this magnitude warranted not only a medal but a memorial installation which would pay tribute to all of the victims, to the City of New York and to the United States. He presented his idea and his concept to the then Mayor of Jerusalem, Mr. Ehud Olmert, and to the Keren Kayemet LeIsrael (JNF) and both eagerly embraced the project. The Municipality of Jerusalem gave her blessing and Keren Kayemet donated a fitting site in "Emek Ha'arazim“.
The statue is made of bronze and rises to a height of some 6 meters. It stands on a galvanized metal construction which is connected under the bronze envelope, and is cast into a reinforced concrete base. The statue consists of the US flag, with its folds creating a sort of memorial flame and perpetual light. The flag’s stripes flow upwards with the statue and create a sense of movement and power. The monument is comprised of two metals: bronze and aluminum. The base of the monument is divided into 8 sections, which extend out to the site itself, and the site is surrounded by leaning slabs on which are inscribed all the names of the some 3000 victims in raised aluminum letters. Other sections of the site are dedicated to the foliage which decorates it, as well as to a paved path which enables handicapped people to reach it, stone steps leading down to the monument itself, which enable an overall lookout point, and stone benches for visitors to sit, observe and to take it all in. Words from the planner, the artist and initiator of the monument
In the early stages of the project, as I demonstrated it to the representatives of the Keren Kayemeth (JNF) and the Jerusalem authorities, I raised the possibility of erecting a “twin” monument to be erected in New York City itself, as an expression of the bond of friendship and cooperation between the people of United States and Israel and between the two cities themselves. The idea was raised and presented at the time to the relevant authorities and agencies, but had to be postponed due to a delay in erecting the monument in Jerusalem. At this time, it is fitting and appropriate to reinstate the proposal and the possibility of a twin monuments to the Twin Towers in New York as it is in Jerusalem. Dimensions of the Monument: Height of the Monument: 6 meters Height of the Base: 1.5 meters Diameter of the Site Perimeter: 30 meters
The final model of the memorial. An illustration of the final model A general sketch of the concept
Weishoff joins the head landscape architect of the Keren Kayemet, Mr. Yechiel Cohen, and together they begin to plan the site for The Twin Towers Memorial and its integration into the landscape.
The studio of Eliezer Weishoff, where the actual physical model of the memorial and the site were constructed.
From the time the project is envisaged and until its erection on site, nearly 8 years pass! The Keren Kayemet maintains a constant effort to overcome all the various bureaucratic obstacles, there is opposition from some of the environmental agencies, the exact location of the site is constantly being changed for various reasons -but at long last all the necessary permits are issued, sufficient funds are collected and the project is finally beginning to be realized. The site in the Valley of the Cypresses in Jerusalem is chosen, the Keren Kayemet provides an access road to the site itself (allowing trucks, cranes, heavy equipment and people to get there) and work commences.
Despite all of the obstacles, Eliezer Weishoff was undaunted and continued to work on a scale model of the memorial itself. In a foundry in Netanya, he built a foamed plastic model 1:1 (6 meters in height), which would enable him to construct the mold for the bronze sculpture itself.
Here we can see the actual bronze sculpture, a work in progress. The completed bronze sculpture and all of the people who helped to create it.
And before the sculpture is erected on the site, I wish to dedicate a few words to the artist and to his creation: Eliezer Weishoff does not need my help for, indeed, he is a well known and respected personality in the art world, as you will see later; but getting to know both the man and his work so impressed me that I want to share with you my impressions of him and his “kingdom”.
A general view of the central hall of the studio. A visit to Weishoff’s studio is an impressive experience. In a relatively limited space one can see several works concentrated in one location; but this is not a showroom or gallery, rather a work place where Eliezer and his wife, Ella, his loyal assistant, first imagine and then create his artworks. Eliezer is a “man of all seasons” and a “jack of all trades”: he draws and paints (from stamps to giant frescoes), he sculpts (from miniatures to life size to huge installations in public squares and locations worldwide); so it is that a tour of his studio represents all of these facets of his “oeuvre” and only hint at his tremendous creative output. And now I invite you to join me and my camera as I try to record some of that we both experienced in our visit to his studio.
Two (of many dozens) of his paintings on Jerusalem themes
At long last, in April 2009, a final decision was reached as to the site a lovely hill overlooking Cedar Valley on the outskirts of Jerusalem, more or less opposite Ramat Motza - and this is how it looked before work was begun.
On May 14, 2009, following initial ground work, drilling for the foundations ensues.
The next step involves preparation for the supporting base of the monument, end July 2009.
Early August and the exterior walls are laid out together with the casting molds.
September and at last there is real progress! A team of workers arrives daily, the concrete molds are completed and the place is transformed into an impressive building site.
In the central plaza workers are preparing to lay the flooring.
Sep. 16, 2009 and everything is ready for the huge casting operation. (Here and there smaller casting has already taken place.)
11.45 a.m. and up the dusty hill appears a cement pump, in preparation to cast the molds of reinforced concrete on the outer perimeter.
Only at 4 p.m., after a long day’s wait, the cement mixers finally appear and work is begun in earnest, continuing until darkness falls.
5.10.09 Oct. 5, 2009 and pouring the reinforced concrete for the outer perimeter of the plaza continues apace, while the inner walls begin to be cast as well.
The flooring of the plaza has been covered with concrete and now the paving begins.
But today, in addition to the construction work, the monument itself begins to take shape. Two trucks arrive in the afternoon, together with a crane, and the two half sections of exterior metal for the concrete base of the monument. The crane unloads them and extends its long arm toward the center of the plaza.
Final measurements to ensure everything is centered and the cladding is in place! The two halves are joined together and welded and then, as one piece, they are slowly placed in the center.
Oct. 18 – Paving of the plaza is complete and now extends to the perimeter
Today the monument will be set in place. It is unloaded from the truck and a giant crane gets set to raise the 8-ton monument and move it several meters until it is lowered directly on to the base.
Only at 5 p.m. does the giant replacement crane arrive and begin to get organized for the huge task of lifting, moving and placing the body of the monument on to the base, 2 ½ hours later.
The body of the monument - 6 meters in height and weighing 8 tons - is lifted skyward “with ease” and lowered on to the base.
The next step involves connecting the “collar” connecting the monument to the base and this is how it looks in daylight.
No time has been wasted in waiting for the replacement crane and, together with the monument, the 14 cast plates, on which the names of the some 3000 victims of the tragedy have been inscribed, are laid out and assembled in alphabetical order. They will be measured and placed and then permanently attached to the slanted slab walls surrounding the monument itself.
The plates bearing the names of all the victims have been laid in place and now can be viewed from up close.
5.nov. only a week before the inauguration ceremony for the monument, and most of it is already in place. The floor is almost entirely paved, the walls have been faced in stone and even clean up work has begun.
The monument is in place, only last minute touches and clean up are required, and everything is ready to go ahead.
And now we go on to the public inauguration ceremony for the monument, scheduled for noon on Nov. 12, 2009.
Just before the inauguration ceremony begins, let’s take a brief look at the components making up the entire site: On the outside of the monument there is a window through which one can view a small piece of the actual Twin Towers rubble—crumpled steel—which was sent for this purpose from New York itself.
The donors who generously subsidized the project are given pride of place: First is Ms. Bronka Stavsky Rabin Weintraub and following is the Blank Family.
The plaques bearing the names of the victims have been placed surrounding the monument and the entire surface then faced with Jerusalem stone.
In one of the shaded areas there are letters of appreciation from people unable to visit the location The shaded guest stands start to fill up with the invitees to the ceremony.
The official inauguration ceremony begins: The representative of the Keren Kayemeth Leisrael (JNF), Mr. Zeev Kahanov, presides and, as the trumpets play taps, the twin flags of Israel and the United States of America are lowered in memoriam to half staff.
The first speaker, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, addresses the guests. He was among the earliest promoters of the project, as at the time he was Mayor of Jerusalem.
The eternal flame is lighted by the American Ambassador to Israel, Mr. James Cunningham , together with other representatives.
The psalm for the departed, “El Maleh Rahamim”, is sung by cantor Asher Hainowitz of the Yeshurun Synagogue in Jerusalem.
Members of the Shefi family (brother Ishai and wife Yehudit Tamir Shefi) whose son, Hagai, was among the victims, played and sang at the ceremony; while his father, Dov, spoke moving words.
At this stage the flag bearers (members of the fire fighters and other organizations) moved down to the monument and placed their flags inside it, further emphasizing the motif of the furled flag of the monument itself.
now wreaths were placed along the name plaques of the victims by Member of the Israeli Knesset – Mr Benny Begin, the Uniteed States Embassy…
religious representatives - the Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, the Archibishop Elies Chacour, and members of the victims’ families.
The representative of the Keren Kayemeth (JNF), Mr. Avraham Duvdevani, hands Mr. Carmi Schwartz (Bronka Stavsky family deputy) a beautifully leather bound copy of the Bible.
The ceremony also included singing of the national anthems of the United States and Israel by a choir of young girls and a quartet of IDF singers in uniform, all standing in front of the monument. Suddenly they were joined by 2 men who blew the shofar (ram’s horn) in an emotional blast and then white doves, signaling peace, were released up into the air above it all
And thus we see the WTC Twin Towers Memorial Monument after completion of construction and the dedication ceremony, but prior to completion of the landscaping of the entire site.
I shall stop here, inasmuch as the moving dedication ceremony itself is worthy of its own presentation; however time and space do not allow for it now. In summation I want to state that, for me, being able to accompany from the sidelines the entire project, almost from its inception, was very moving. This includes getting to know the artist, Eliezer Weishoff, and the people at the Keren Kayemeth (JNF) who, despite all the bureaucratic hurdles, were able to keep to the timetable and to complete the project in time for the dedication ceremony - even including the landscaping surrounding the site.
Here is the medal from both sides. And a final word: As was mentioned, Eliezer Weishoff is both a philatelic and numismatic (stamps & medals) artist and designer, both in Israel and internationally. In this capacity he designed the beautiful commemorative medal you see here, on behalf of the Israel Coins & Medals Corp. The medal is an exact depiction of the monument and a fitting token by which to commemorate this important historical event.
The Israel philatelic services issued this commemorative stamp, designed by Eliezer in conjunction with the memorial and the commemorative medal.
וכך נראה האתר מכביש מס ' 1, מאזור רמת מוצא . Coming from Tel Aviv or the north on Highway 1, go past the Harel Interchange at Motza, for 2 km and then turn right and follow the signs leading to Beit Zayit and Ramat Motza. Immediately after, turn left onto the road which parallels Highway 1 and drive until the little intersection indicating a left turn in the direction of Tel Aviv/Mevaserret. Go through the underpass beneath Highway 1 and immediately turn onto a dirt road. After about 300 meters you will see a green sign: Valley of the Cedars. Continue along this road, on the right side of the Valley. (To the right can be seen a road leading down to the “Minharot” (Caves) road.) Continue until a sharp intersection left with a sign “Solel Boneh – 18 Bridges” (ignoring 2 turns along the way) and then turn left, and left again after the pumps. Drive down the hillside and see before you an Arab village, right and above, and again turn left and drive up the hillside, until reaching the site of the Monument. To those coming from the east, or from Jerusalem itself, on Highway 1, drive until it joins, on the right, the “Minharot “Caves) road and immediately after that watch for the sign to Mevasseret (north)-Beit Zayit/Ramat Motza. Drive down to the right and turn left at the “t” intersection to Ramat Motza and then left again. 100 meters from the “t”, drive straight and then down via a dirt road (see directions above) and continue until reaching the site. Directions to Reach the Memorial:
Photography & Editing: Igal Morag - [email_address] a link to my website http://morag.artvision.co.il To visit the site of artist Eliezer Weishoff, please click on the picture To visit the site of the Keren Kayement L'Israel, please click on the logo