Supplying the world with Jerusalem Stone

May 3, 2002
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Jerusalem Marble opened a new factory on January 1, 2000. The facility is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment from Italy.


Jerusalem Marble owns a quarry site for the Ramon stone (known better as Jerusalem Gold and Jerusalem Grey). To extract the stone, the quarrying process requires a combination of modern machinery -- including chainsaws from Fantini of Italy -- and traditional labor.
In 1923, Aharon Grebelsky, a new immigrant from the Ukraine, established Jerusalem Marble in Jerusalem, Israel. This small factory was the first Jewish-owned stone producer since the days of King Herodes some 2,000 years earlier. In the years that followed, his son Yechiel turned the small company into a large factory employing more than 100 workers, including quarriers, stone masons, fabricators and installers. Today, the company is a major exporter of Jerusalem Stone, and a leading supplier to the North American market.

One of the main reasons for the growth of the company was the building code that exists in Jerusalem, which requires every new building to be clad with local chiseled stone. As such, the factory had an important role in the development of Israel and Jerusalem over the course of the century. It supplied stones to a range of major projects in Jerusalem, including The Supreme Court, Hadassa Hospital, the plaza in front of the Wailing Wall, the main Jerusalem promenade, the new foreign office building and many more.

The company branched out in the 1980s, when it was one of the first companies to export Jerusalem stone to the U.S. Two of the first U.S. major projects in Jerusalem Stone were the auditorium in the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, and the Holocaust Memorial in Miami, FL.

One of the company¿s first projects in the U.S. was the Holocaust Memorial in Miami, FL.

Stone production

Jerusalem Marble owns a quarry site for the Ramon stone (known better as Jerusalem Gold and Jerusalem Grey). The quarry is located in the south of Israel near the small city of Mitzpe Ramon. To extract the stone, the quarrying process requires a combination of modern machinery -- including chainsaws from Fantini of Italy -- and traditional labor to take out blocks, which are sent to the factory in Jerusalem.

The new factory was opened on January 1, 2000. The facility is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, including: Simec gangsaws; a Pedrini blockcutter; a Breton polishing line;

and a Zambon bridge saw. Specialty

equipment includes a Pellegrini chiseling/sandblasting/flaming machine, which produces unique textures that were specially designed for the company; and a complete line for producing antiqued stone, including tumblers and brushing machines.

Along with the new machinery, the factory employs a group of stone masons that produce the traditional textured finishes of Jerusalem. These masons use the exact same methods as their forefathers did 2,000 years ago.

Jerusalem Marble usually fabricates the Ramon Yellow/Jerusalem Gold and Grey stone from its own quarry, but it also works with other Israeli stones, including Halila (Antique gold) and Jerusalem Cream/Bone from the Hebron area; Benjamin Grey from the Bir Zeit area; and Jerusalem Red, which is salvaged from sites within Jerusalem.

The company¿s stone has also been used on prominent projects within Israel, including the Supreme Court.

Marketing efforts

In addition to having a large client base within Israel, the company has been making a concentrated effort to develop new markets overseas. The main export market is the U.S., although the factory also exports to Europe, South America and the Far East.

Jerusalem Marble has three different lines of products. Cut-to-size products are usually comprised of textured material for exterior as well as interior uses. Distribution products include honed and polished tiles and slabs as well as tumbled and antique finishes. Exterior paving products feature a textured finish as well as sandblasted, flamed, tumbled and more for swimming pools and other exterior paving applications.

The company¿s marketing in the U.S. is typically carried out through distributors, mainly in New York, Florida, Connecticut and California. "The company¿s main goal and challenge is to increase the export of Jerusalem Stone to the U.S. and to make more commercial and residential projects in the unique chiseled and antique finish of Jerusalem stone," explained Arik Grebelsky of Jerusalem Marble. In addition to the Holocaust projects in Washington and Miami, other notable projects supplied by Jerusalem Marble have included the Kabbalah Center in New York, NY; the Community Center in Flushing, NY; the Castle du Lac in Montreal, Quebec, Canada; the Goldman Sachs offices in New York, NY; the Ronald Reagan Library in San Diego, CA; and the Hyatt Hotel in Riverdale, NY.

And while Jerusalem Marble is an export-oriented company, it is also civic-minded within Israel. "Community involvement is one of Jerusalem Marble¿s main characteristics," Grebelsky said. "The company is dedicated to donating its financial resources and raising additional funds for causes such as the Israeli Guide Dog Center, promotion of the work of local artists and stone sculptors, supporting Jerusalem sport teams and more." In recognition of the company¿s efforts in this area, Yechiel Grebelsky was honored on February 10 of this year by the mayor of Jerusalem, who designated him with the important title of "Yakir Yerushalayim" (honored citizen) for his contribution to the building of the city and for his community involvement.

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