Gained in Translation

(l-r) Your author holds a copy of his Hebrew translation of Elevator Mechanical Design as he visits with Lubomír Janovský, author of the original version of the highly regarded text.

A journey of discovery starts with the creation of a classic elevator text’s Hebrew version.

by Yuval Valiano-Rips

About a year ago, I took it upon myself to translate into Hebrew Elevator Mechanical Design, the seminal elevator engineering text by Lubomír Janovský. The third edition was published in 1999 and is one of the only instructional texts related to elevator engineering for professionals in Israel.

Janovský is considered the “master of elevator engineering”to such an extent that if someone is extremely professional or solves a complex elevator engineering issue, we say he “did the Janovský!”

I began my mission to translate Janovský’s book by contacting Elevator World, Inc. I was told the 87-year-old Janovský was living in his hometown of Kolin, Czech Republic. I contacted him via email and found him to be a warm and pleasant person. I suggested we meet when the book was ready.

After a year of translating and updating the book for Israel, the Hebrew version was ready, and we were prepared to travel to Kolin. My father-in-law, Moshe, who founded our family’s 30-year-old elevator company, Rips Elevators, joined me on the trip to meet Janovský and to hand him a copy of the Hebrew version of his book. Meeting Janovský was extremely exciting for Moshe and me, since we both owe part of our professional knowledge to him.

We landed in the beautiful city of Prague. After a night’s rest, we rented a car and made the hourlong drive to Kolin. Janovský and his son, Marek Zalabák, were waiting for us in the center of town. They took us on a guided tour of the old Jewish sites in and around Kolin.

Kolin was established on the Elbe River in the 13th century, and as we walked through the city’s historic center, we were fascinated by the Gothic and Baroque architecture of the buildings flanking the old streets. Though they intrigued us, the streets also offered sad and everlasting testimony to the decimation of the Jewish community that once formed a large part of the population of Kolin.

After the tour, we sat down for lunch with our wonderful hosts and exchanged gifts: we received informative historical and sightseeing books about Prague and Kolin, and we presented Janovský with several gifts from Israel: an artist’s handmade Menora (Jewish holy object) and an engraved dedication on an elevator emergency key. We then got down to the main reason for the meeting: presenting Janovský with a copy of his book in Hebrew. Because Hebrew iswritten right to left and starts on the right side, Janovský, like many others who have never read Hebrew, was confused, turning the book upside down and inside out several times, not knowing which way he should read it. We all had a good laugh.

Our meeting was very exciting and emotional, and it was difficult to say goodbye, but we agreed to keep in touch.

The Hebrew version of the book is available digitally from Elevator World, Inc. and in a printed verison via Rips Elevators Hebrew online store at www.rips.co.il/store.

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Elevator World | April 2020 Issue Cover