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 pass√© 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.

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