Jerusalem: The Center of the World

Jerusalem: The Center of the World [1]

Voices [2]Jerusalem [2]Voices Voices [3]Inside the Jewish Agency [4]The title of the city's newest cultural landmark In her absence, the sculpture was unveiled by Helen Stone-Laor's (z"l) brothers Albert Wajs and Benjamin Weiss. "Jerusalem: The Center of the World" - sculpture in honor of Eran Laor, unsung hero of The Jewish Agency - in the center of Jerusalem - opposite the Tower of David and Mamilla Mall.In her absence, the sculpture was unveiled by Helen Stone-Laor's (z"l) brothers Albert Wajs and Benjamin Weiss. Inauguration of the newest landmark in Teddy Park, Jerusalem: Laor's brothers-inlaw, Benjamin Weiss and Albert Wajs, with The Jerusalem Foundation's Daniel Mimran and Mark Sofer.The inauguration of "Jerusalem: The Center of The World" in Teddy Park, in honor of Eran Laor, one of The Jewish Agency's unsung heroes. Sculptor, David Breuer-Weil, with his son inside "Jerusalem: The Center of The World."

JERUSALEM: The capital's newest cultural landmark was unveiled recently in Jerusalem’s Teddy Park –where the old meets the new—between the Tower of David and Mamilla Mall. The sculpture, includes the Renaissance Bunting map [5], fashioned of different stones, and above - a globe constructed of stainless steel – described by artist David Breuer-Weil as a "Phoenix rising from the ashes."

"Israel is a great country coming to life based on an ancient culture—out of the rock and stone of Jerusalem," he said, explaining the symbolism.

Indeed, Eran Laor, played a vital role in this rise. Born Erich Israel Landstein (1900 – 1990), Laor made Aliyah from Slovakia in 1934. A philosopher, he wrote: "Here, my real life began." Working for the Israeli government and for The Jewish Agency for Israel, Laor served as director of the Peltours Company, a travel agency established by The Jewish Agency under the guise of which clandestine Aliyah operations took place. As director of Peltours, Laor coordinated and organized illegal immigration for thousands of people in the years prior to Israeli statehood.

After the establishment of the State, Laor was appointed as a representative for The Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization in Europe. Much of his work, during the British Mandate, was secret and even his closest friends—to this day—do not realize the extent of Laor’s heroism in service to his country and his people. Laor later described his work as fulfilling "my soul's desire."

One person who did know all that he accomplished was his wife, Helene Stone-Laor (nee Weiss), whom he met after she made Aliyah in 1966. The Six Day War, which broke out six months later, she said strengthened her resolve to devote herself to the Land of Israel.

Helene, a Holocaust survivor from Switzerland, once wrote: “In regard to illegal immigration and Aliyah, [Eran] is the living, working, activating, struggling, protecting soul, supporting and providing resources” and that he lived and existed for Israel’s benefit.

Helene worked tirelessly, for years, to develop a sculpture that honored her husband’s heroism while paying tribute to his interest in maps of Israel and the Middle East, which he collected during his travels and later donated the National Library. It was also important to Helene that the sculpture be located as centrally in Jerusalem as possible thereby representing the city’s place in the epicenter of both human spirituality and the immigrant couple’s love. Sadly, Helene passed away just months before the sculpture was unveiled in Teddy Park by her brothers Benjamin Weiss and Albert Wajs.

Sculptor David Breuer-Weil, speaking at the ceremony, said how Helene knew precisely what she wanted, and worked closely with him on the design. 

The idea is for the sculpture to be interactive—for people to walk inside it and to each themselves feel as the center of the universe.

Mark Sofer, of the Jerusalem Fund, added that he hopes the new cultural landmark in Teddy Park will become one of Jerusalem's iconic symbols and that Jerusalem can—in our time—come to be the center of a tolerant and peaceful world.

Eran Laor, one of Israel’s unsung heroes during the final days of the British Mandate, had a lifelong passion for maps. So it is fitting that a new sculpture, a gift to the city of Jerusalem from his wife Helene in his honor, features Heinrich Bunting Hem’s 1581 clover-shaped map – a map that places Jerusalem at the world’s epicenter.Inside the Jewish Agency
19 Dec 2013 / 16 Tevet 5774 0
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Margot Saffer is an olah chadasha writing from Jerusalem, Margot holds degrees in English, Media, and Psychology (cum laude), and a MPhil in Life-Writing. Her poetry, prose, journalism, and academic work have been published in three languages, on four continents. Her interests are social activism, giving voice to minority populations, and personal profiles.