Historic Building Housing Templer Pharmacy Razed

A historic building located in Tel Aviv's Sarona neighborhood was destroyed this week after efforts to preserve it failed. The one-story building had been built in 1924 by the committee of the Templer colony in Sarona to serve as a pharmacy for the Zionist pharmacist Isidore Yitzhak Mameluk, who was one of the first alternative healers in Palestine, using homeopathy and herbs to heal his patrons. Mameluk, a German Jew who had owned a pharmacy in Berlin, came to Palestine in 1907 and worked in the hospital of the German Colony in Jaffa.

Sarona's Templer residents were eager for him to open a pharmacy in their quarter and built it for him in the center of their community, so he would be available to all of them. Mameluk served the German-speaking Templers until they were exiled from the country during World War Two. Once the construction of the pharmacy premises was completed, Mameluk planted two palm trees in front of the building - they still stand there today. "My father was a Zionist and a friend of Herzl. He was a delegate to three important Zionist congresses," Mameluk's son, Yonatan Mameluk, 80, said this week.

The Council for Restoration and Preservation of Historic Sites in Israel held a demonstration earlier this week, protesting the demolishment of the building - which had not been on the municipality's list of buildings to be preserved. The building had already been pulled down, but it was decided to hold the protest meeting at the vacant lot where it once stood. The protesters lit candles and there was an exhibition of photographs from the Templer period. Yonatan Mameluk spoke about the pharmacy.

Members of the Council, who had been campaigning against the impending destruction after being alerted by Mameluk, were angry. "There was no reason to tear down this historic building," said the Council's Tal Bin-Nun. "We proposed alternatives to the municipality and the Sarona authority but they simply refused to discuss them with us. They could have moved the road - the reason why the pharmacy was destroyed - to the side. We'll continue our fight to preserve buildings of historic importance that have not been included in the preservation plans."

The Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipal spokesman said in response: "The Mameluk building [that housed the pharmacy] sat on the historic road of the Templers. As part of the plans for the southern government precinct that include the Ganei Sarona park, the municipality wanted to reconstruct the original route through the community. That is why the building was not included on the preservation list. The building dated from a later period and not from the early days of the colony."