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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Values of Days Gone By

If you drive north on route 5 in Israel and look right (eastwards) after passing the Geha intersection (for Petah Tikva and Bnei Brak), you will see a decrepit industrial building with an interesting inscription on its roof:

I took this picture with my mobile phone, so apologies for the quality. Three letters are missing, but the inscription says: "We took a vow to partake in the building of the people and the Land of Israel".

I've been driving past this building for many years and I often look at these words. They strike an emotional chord within me every time. Yesterday, I googled these words and found out that the building belonged to an aluminium manufacturing company by the name of Zinkal, that apparently went under in 2002. Most of the entries about Zinkal on the Web are court proceedings of creditors against the company. The company's website returns an empty page.

I find this very symbolic. On one hand, the inscription shows the owners of Zinkal believed in values which most Israelis today view as passé and defunct. And yet they were proud enough of these values to inscribe them prominently on the copmany's building, in full public view on a main highway. On the other hand, the state of the building (and the inscription) are proof that the cynical view prevailed. Those who place the value of caring for the country and its people before the value of self-enrichment end up broke. I know I'm generalising, but it's a potent symbol nonetheless.

Update - 3 December:

Driving past the building again today, I noticed the sign posted on the top-left corner (you can just see it in the photo) is an ad for a lucky charm, an amulet, of R. Nachman of Breslov. This building' symbolism is stronger than I originally thought. Business gone bust, good old values failed, so let's turn to voodo Judaism to save us.


Juggling Frogs said...

Or, perhaps it means that their message was SO potent, that it lasted beyond the survival of their business.

You investigated them based on the impact of the message, without even knowing what the business was. If you learned about a random business that failed there, would it have impacted you?

Our bodies are destined to deteriorate, but if what we stand for and accomplish in our lifetime is worthwhile, our memories can be for a blessing.

It sounds like you were touched by a business after its death. Not too shabby, no?

mnuez said...

Dunno if you read comments on old posts but I haven't been here in a while so I came for a visit - and once I'm here lemme say "hey" (as in "hello", despite the fact that past comments of yours on mine appear to demonstrate an appreciation for classical English over the improvised sort).

As for the sign, I'm ashamed to say that my very first thought upon seeing the first few letters (on account of the missing ones) was of the "Na Nach" sort.

I can't say that was actually a "thought" per se but when the mind encounters some new visual (particularly in writing) the first thing it does is to quickly sort out the possibilities by likelihood - and I've seen so many Na Nach signs that my mind's first millisecond screening was for a joking-variation of that slogan.

Anyhow, I've told you before but a compliment never hurts, you've got a cool blog and I enjoy your generally rational approach.