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Architecture and Urban Planning - A Memoir \ David Best
III 1970 - 1980
The Seligsberg Comrehensive High School
    Towards the end of the planning of the Central Business District, a member of Jerusalem Municipal Council, Eliezer Ronen, was responcibal for the planning of Higher Education Facilities in Jerusalem at that time and we had many discussions on the role the Comprehensive High School within the framework of new neighbourhoods that were under construction. Our discussions resulted in his recommendation for my candidature for the planning of the Comprehensive High School to be built in East Talpiot.

     My referent in the Jerusalem Municipality was the Deputy Mayor, Joseph Gadish. Together with him and his assistant Sarah Kaminka, I had developed the concept of the "Minhala" (Neighbourhood Residents Council).  I could not have had a better man than Gadish to work with on the planning of this important Public building which we both considered as the social kingpin of the entire neighborhood; not only a school, but a cultural focus for the entire community.   In addition to Gadish and Sarh Kaminka three powerful ladies would be involved in the planning of the building and the subsequent administration of this unique educational facility.

     The first was a lady called Yael Povsner.  She was the sister of the famous architectural historian, Julius Povsner.  During the early 1970s she was the director of the Development Department of the Ministry of Education and had previously held a very high position in a special department of the Prime Ministers office.  She must have been in her early 60's when I first met her.  Though short in height, her appearance was as incisive as her character was strong.  She had deep set eyes that sparkled.  Her countenance was generally serious, but her smile was devastating.  Her intellect was as sharp as her sensitivity to human beings was soft and caring. She was a truly remarkable woman.   The development of the programme for the Comprehensive High School was the result of our long discussions on both the educational structure and the communal role which such an institution, could play within in a neighbourhood the size of East Talpiot.  I believe that the introduction of the concept of Comprehensive Education in Israel was essentially one of her own initiatives.  She was also a co-founder together with Joseph Slyper of an Educational Research Institution, with which I have had close contact over many years and am at present a member of its Board of Directors.   

    As the design of the school entered a more detailed phase, Yael's role as client was taken over by another very different lady.  The Seligsberg School was an existing institution, located in the centre of Jerusalem.  My role was to plan a new school building and relocate the existing institution in the new East Talpiot neighbourhood.  The existing school was originally built, administrated and financed by the 'Hadassah Ladies Association, U.S.A', which had also founded other educational but particularly medical institutions in Israel.  The Hadassah Ladies were a fine body of volunteers, but when you met them on mass they were as close as you could get to the women's chorus in a Wagnerian Opera, though I must admit that some of them were sweet little things in tennis shoes.

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