P. 89

baron wrote: "I hope that in the new home you continue the work you have done to date with great success, with many blessings towards realizing our lofty idea." Additional telegrams of well wishes arrived from the Land of Israel and abroad.
Afterwards, dozens of the notable attendees of the ceremony signed the Founding Declaration. It was buried in the earth and covered by two buckets of cement. The erection of the Keren heYesod Wing, as part of the National Institutions Complex – began.
However, what came later was conducted slowly. At the time in Jerusalem there was high unemployment, and we can understand the labor dispute that broke out in the fall of 1932 against this background. The laborers for this great project were sent by the labor office of the Jerusalem Workers' Council. The labor office of "Hapoel HaMizrahi" claimed discrimination and demand that they also be provided work. A special committee debated the matter until a solution was found for the division of work between the two offices.
Now what remained was to erect the central wing, the Jewish Agency's building, the senior of the four institutions that were supposed to share the rooms, offices and halls of the joint complex. The preparations began in the summer of 1932 and ran over into 1933. Only in mid-1933 was a contractors tender held and a loan totaling 9,000 Palestinians Pounds was secured, also from the "Phoenix" Insurance Company. The remaining required amounts were extended by the Jewish Agency from its own sources. Construction began shortly afterwards and Jerusalemites discovered that an additional building sprang up between the existing wings of KKL-JNF and Keren Hayesod, which created a single wholeness. Every week or two, the architect Yohanan Ratner appeared at the construction site, to follow the work closely and ensure that there were no deviations from his original plan.
In the winter of 1934, the building was almost, but not quite, finished. A small news item in "Davar" Newspaper stated that the celebratory inaugural session of the Zionist General Council, which had convened in the Land of Israel for the first time, was supposed to be held in the main hall of the new building of the Jewish Agency. However, "despite all efforts, construction never ended," noted the newspaper report and the discussions were moved to a less convenient location in the Keren Hayesod Wing.
Two months later, in May 1934, the building had already stood. Ratner arrived, examined the "finish" and gave his approval. The session of the Assembly of Representatives, the highest elected body of the Jewish Yishuv, which had convened in May 17, had done so, for the first time, in the Jewish Agency building, the central wing of the National Institutions Building. The building was opened without ceremony, perhaps because the Jewish Agency was in an "interregnum" period. It was headed at the time by Dr. Arthur Ruppin, who dedicated most of his efforts towards the absorption of German Olim, who began arriving on the Land of Israel by the thousands in 1932. The master of the house in every sense of the word only assumed the position in the fall of 1935, with the election of David Ben-Gurion as Chairman of the Jewish Agency and the Zionist Executive.

   87   88   89   90   91