Construction is underway for a bold new addition to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, designed by American architect Preston Scott Cohen and named for Los Angeles-based philanthropists Herta and Paul Amir. The Building, costing $45 million, will double the museum's space and house the largest collection of modern Israeli art anywhere. It is "one of contemporary architecture's most keenly anticipated buildings," critic Jeff Kipnis said. "Its distinctive form -- a curved facade enclosing a series of stacked levels around a spiral atrium -- allows for rectangular, flexible gallery spaces within a triangular site."
Cohen, who directs Harvard University's masters program in architecture, beat out more than 77 competitors to win the museum commission in 2003. His project has since been spotlighted in exhibitions ranging from "The National Design Triennial" at the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, and the recent "Skin + Bones: Parallel Practices in Fashion and Architecture" at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.
The Amirs are the parents of Orna Wolens, a board member of The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles.
The six-level museum building should be completed in 2009, in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the founding of the city of Tel Aviv.
-- Naomi Pfefferman, Arts & Entertainment Editor
Asian-Jewish initiative takes off
When American Jewish leaders spoke out this winter against a Korean professor who had published a popular series of anti-Semitic comic books, the Pacific Southwest chapter of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) had already begun working with Asian Americans leaders on a dialogue to prevent such stereotyping.
Modeled after the Latino Jewish Roundtable, the Asian Jewish Initiative began last week with an hour of schmoozing followed by a kosher dinner at the Empress Pavilion Restaurant in Chinatown. It was not launched in response to local anti-Semitism, regional ADL Director Amanda Susskind said, but to prevent such attitudes from developing and to help Asian Americans and Jews identify their similarities.
"It's about learning more about two communities of Los Angeles," Susskind said.
In many ways, Asian American immigrants have appreciated the same integration and assimilation process that Jewish immigrants have -- with first-generation immigrants operating small businesses and strongly emphasizing education and entrepreneurship to their children.
This has led Asian Americans to face the same "model-minority" discrimination Jews have, said Raphael J. Sonenshein, a Cal State Fullerton political science professor and Journal columnist.
Future Asian Jewish Initiative events have not yet been announced.
-- Brad A. Greenberg, Staff Writer