Meet ISZY GAITELBAND
By LAUREN PLATT Voice intern jewishvoicesnj.org
PETS: A dog, Lucky
FAVORITE FOOD: Flanken
FAVORITE MOVIE: Exodus
Israel “Iszy” Gaitelband has only been living in the United States for 28 years, but he has made quite a name for himself since immigrating in 1985. Born in 1944 in East London, South Africa, where he lived the greater portion of his life, he has accomplished so much in his time here, including owning two artistry-oriented businesses.
Around 1995, in the hope that his furniture creations would become more interesting, Gaitelband created his own type of etching on metal, which has since become his claim to fame. Using cut shapes and abrasive shading, he is able to give the metal a look and a texture that has never been seen before and is always one of a kind.
His current business, Metal Masters, focuses on metalwork in stairs, railings and furniture as well as sculpture, countertops and backsplashes. At his workshop in Beverly, New Jersey, Gaitelband likes to be as hands on as possible.
There is more to Gaitelband than his artwork. He has lived quite a unique life. He has experienced things in his lifetime that not many people can say they have experienced in theirs.
He grew up in an Orthodox home where he lived with his parents, siblings and a few cousins. They all kept kosher in the home, a tradition that Gaitelband still follows. Gaitelband was a member of the Jewish youth movement Betar, which essentially was a youth movement in support of Revisionist Zionism. His father and family “were involved in Zionist politics” and had Menachem Begin, the Israeli Prime minister, stay in their house in the 1950s.
In 1963, Gaitelband served in the South African Army and was a part of the reserves until 1972. He was also a volunteer in the Israeli Six Day War. Gaitelband has encountered so much in his lifetime that has taught him valuable lessons and helped him become who he is now.
Gaitelband attended Selborne College in East London as well as East London Technical College for mechanical engineering in the early 1960s. Originally planning to do architecture and engineering, Gaitelband had no idea that metalwork is what he would end up doing and loving, although he says he “always kind of had somewhat of an artistic background.”
Before Metal Masters, Gaitelband was the founder and CEO of Brass Art Manufacturing Company, his last project before coming to the United States. He also owned Innovative Design, his first endeavor after moving to the states.
In America, Gaitelband first lived in Philadelphia. He then met his second wife, Arleen Schwartz, and they now reside in Cherry Hill. They have a combined total of five children and 10 (soon-to-be 11) grandchildren. They are very involved in their family life and have even taken quite a few trips to Israel to visit some of Gaitelband’s family there. Gaitelband refers to himself as “traditionally Jewish,” and he and his wife are members of Temple Beth Sholom and enjoy attending services for the High Holidays.
Although he takes pride in all of his pieces; there is one that he says is his favorite-the 8- ft. by 9-ft. “YO!” sculpture that sits on his front lawn. However, he does not want it to sit there for long, “I would like to market it to a sports stadium or a corporate entity, or a city, something of that nature. It should be public.”