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Mount Herzl

Mount Herzl (Mount of Remembrance) is 834 meters above sea level to the west of Jerusalem beside the Jerusalem Forest and next to Yad Vashem.

It is the site of Israel’s national cemetery and other memorial and educational facilities, It is named after Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern political Zionism. Herzl’s tomb (above) lies at the top of the hill. Israel’s war dead are also buried there. Every plot section in Mount Herzl has a broad plaza for memorial services. Most state memorial ceremonies for those killed in war are conducted in the National Military and Police cemetery.

Purpose and Significance
Great Leaders of the Nation
Theodor Herzl’s Grave
Victims of Acts of Terror Memorial
Other Memorials
National Military Cemetery
Christian, Muslim, and Druze Soldiers
Garden of the Missing in Action
Hall of Names
National Garden
Official Ceremonies


In 1934, Zionist leader Menahem Ussishkin organized the re-interment of Leon Pinsker in Nicanor Cave on Mount Scopus in an attempt to build a pantheon for the great leaders of the Jewish nation. Ussishkin was buried there in 1941. When Mount Scopus became an enclave, cut off from Jerusalem, the implementation of this plan was no longer feasible.

During the summer of 1949, Herzl’s remains were reinterred on a hill in West Jerusalem that faced the Mount of Olives from a distance and renamed in his honor, Mount Herzl. In November 1949, soldiers who fell during the War of Independence in the Jerusalem area were buried on the north slope of the hill. In 1951, the government decided to establish a national cemetery for Israeli leaders and fallen soldiers at Mount Herzl. It has served this purpose ever since.

Purpose and Significance

Apart from Theodor Herzl, Mount Herzl is the burial place of five of Israel’s prime ministers: Levi EshkolGolda MeirYitzhak ShamirYitzhak Rabin (who is buried beside his wife Leah), and Shimon Peres. Israeli presidents are also buried on Mount Herzl, as are other prominent Jewish and Zionist leaders. Soldiers awarded the Medal of Valor may also be buried at Mount Herzl.

Mount Herzl is the venue for many commemorative events and national celebrations.

Great Leaders of the Nation

The Great Leaders of the Nation’s Plot or Memorial Park holds the graves of several Prime Ministers, Presidents, Knesset speakers, and other chosen national leaders of the State of Israel. It forms a separate section of the Mount Herzl cemetery from that of the leaders of the Zionist Organization (after 1960: World Zionist Organization), which is situated nearby.

The Hebrew name Helkat Gedolei Ha’Uma refers to the State of Israel leaders’ section or the area that includes pre-state Zionist leaders.

Buried there are Presidents Zalman Shazar and Chaim Herzog, Shimon Peres and Prime Ministers Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin and his wife Leah Rabin. Other notable graves are those of the first speaker of the Knesset, Joseph Sprinzak and his wife Hanna, the first Minister of Finance, Eliezer Kaplan, and Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek. Despite the national significance of the cemetery, some Israeli leaders were buried elsewhere, most notably Chaim Weizmann (buried at Weizmann House), David Ben-Gurion (buried at Midreshet Ben-Gurion), and Menachem Begin (buried at the Mount of Olives).

Deciding who should be buried on Mount Herzl has sometimes been controversial. For example, the decision to bury Ze’ev Jabotinsky, who died in 1940, on Mount Herzl, was fiercely opposed by many Labor Party stalwarts, who claimed that Jabotinsky was an ultra-right nationalist undeserving of such an honor. Only in 1964 did Prime Minister Levi Eshkol decide in favor of burying him there, in the interest of promoting national reconciliation and setting aside political grievances.

Theodor Herzl’s Grave

In 1903, Theodor Herzl wrote in his will:

I wish to be buried in a metal coffin next to my father, and to remain there until the Jewish people will transfer my remains to Eretz Israel. The coffins of my father, my sister Pauline, and of my close relatives who will have died until then will also be transferred there.

When Herzl died a year later, he was interred in Vienna. Forty-five years later, Herzl's remains were brought to Israel and reinterred in Jerusalem. The location of the burial site was selected by a special state commission at the top of a hill in Jerusalem next to the military cemetery of Jerusalem. He was buried on August 17, 1949. A temporary stone marked his grave for several years until the site was developed into a national cemetery. Sixty-three entries were submitted in the competition for the design of his new tombstone. The winner was Joseph Klarwein's design, consisting of an unadorned black granite stone inscribed with the name Herzl. The area around his tomb has been expanded into the plaza where the first Independence Day ceremony was held in 1950.

Despite Herzl’s wishes, his daughter Pauline and son Hans were not originally buried beside him. Their remains were moved to Mount Herzl in 2006. Herzl’s third child, Trude, was murdered during the Holocaust in Theresienstadt. Her remains were burned by the Nazis. Herzl’s parents and sister are also buried at Mount Herzl.

Between the Herzl Museum and the Herzl Educational Center, is a small park dedicated to the memory of Herzl’s only grandchild, Trude’s son, Captain Stephen Norman, British Royal Artillery. Ironically, Norman was the only Zionist in Herzl’s family. He visited Palestine in late 1945, “to see what my grandfather had begun,” he wrote in his diary. On the walls of the garden a quote from Norman summarizes the Zionist dream succinctly. “You will be amazed at the Jewish youth in Palestine…they have the look of freedom.” 

Norman was barred from returning to Palestine by the British because he was a Herzl. He took a small position at the British Embassy in Washington secured for him by Chaim Weizmann. In Washington, he learned his family had been exterminated and the surviving Jews from the Holocaust remained trapped in European  Displaced Persons Camps. Norman, the last Herzl, could do nothing to help them. Deeply depressed, he committed suicide. Sixty-one years later, Norman’s remains were finally returned to Israel in 2007 and buried on Mount Herzl by the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation and the Jewish Agency.

Victims of Acts of Terror Memorial

The Victims of Acts of Terror Memorial is the main memorial for all victims of terrorism in Israel from 1851 until today. The Memorial was opened in 1997, and every year a ceremony is held on the plaza, in memory of the victims of terror. The memorial is located in the National Civil Cemetery next to Helkat Gedolei Ha'Uma.

Other Memorials

Listed with the plot numbers and according to the on-site plans:

  • 18. Olei Hagardom plot: Jewish underground fighters executed for their activities.
  • 20. Common grave of the 204 illegal immigrants who went down with the Salvador in December 1940.[7]
  • 21. Common grave of the 44 immigrants aboard the Egoz (which sank in 1961).
  • 22. Memorial for the Last of Kin - last Holocaust survivors of their families, who died fighting in the Israel Defense Forces.
  • 27. Memorial for the Jewish immigrants from Ethiopia.

National Military Cemetery

The main Israel Defense Forces cemetery is located on the northern slope of Mount Herzl. It was established in November 1949, when soldiers who fell in the Jerusalem area were buried here. In 1949, the government decided to turn the site into the main cemetery for IDF members who have fallen in the line of duty. The Israel Police cemetery, for police officers who have fallen in the line of duty, is also located there.

There are specific areas or monuments for the following categories of fallen fighters, listed with the actual plot numbers and according to the on-site plans:

1. Memorial for the Jewish soldiers in the Red Army in World War II.

2. Memorial for the Jewish soldiers in the Polish Army in World War II.

3. Memorial for the volunteers of the Yishuv (Jewish community in Palestine) in World War II.

4. Memorial for the 140 Jewish Palestinian soldiers who went down with the British ship SS Erinpura in 1943 during World War II.

5. Memorial for the 23 (in Hebrew numerals: Kaf-Gimel) Palmach sea commandoes who disappeared during Operation Boatswain under British command in 1941.

6. Common grave of the Nabi Daniel Convoy of 27 March 1948 (15 dead).

7. Garden of the Missing in Action (burial places are unknown).

8. Monument for the fallen fighters of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem (surrendered on May 28, 1948).

9. Memorial for the 69 soldiers who went down with the Dakar submarine in 1968 and whose bodies were never recovered.

10. Common grave of the defenders of Neve Yaakov who fell in 1948.

11. Common grave of the fighters fallen in the Battles of Latrun of 1948.

12. Common grave of the Radar Hill fighters.

13. Common grave of the defenders of Kfar Etzion who fell in 1948.

14. Common grave of the Convoy of 35 of January 1948.

15. Memorial for the Jewish Parachutists of Mandate Palestine killed in Europe in World War II

16. Operation Kadesh (1956) plot.

17. Operation Peace for Galilee (First Lebanon War, 1982) plot.

All soldiers, regardless of rank or unit, are buried side by side. The gravestones are plain and unadorned, only recording name, rank, place, and date of birth and death.

Christian, Muslim, and Druze Soldiers

The military cemetery also honors the memory of Israel’s fallen ChristianMuslim, and Druze soldiers who have served in the Israeli security forces.

Garden of the Missing in Action

The Garden of the Missing in Action is a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Memorial and Memory Garden for soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces and those who fought for the pre-state Land of Israel whose resting places are unknown from 1914 until today. The garden was established on February 29, 2004, in a ceremony attended by army chiefs, the Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, and members of the Jerusalem Municipality at the National Military and Police cemetery. The garden also contains memorials to those lost aboard the submarine INS Dakar and the 23 Who Went Down at Sea.

An annual memorial service for the Missing Soldiers of Israel takes place in the garden’s main plaza on the Seventh of Adar.

Hall of Names

A national Remembrance Hall built at the entrance to the Mount Herzl National Military and Police cemetery was opened to the families of fallen soldiers for the first time during the final stages of its construction on May 2, 2017. The new memorial is intended to honor the memory of the 24,068 soldiers and security personnel who have fallen defending the land of Israel since 1860. It is built in the shape of a torch rising some 18 meters where a fire burns all year long. The Ministry of Defense plan includes all 24,068 names, each with a candle to be lit twice a year—once on the anniversary of the soldier’s death, and on Memorial Day, as well as Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. 

National Garden

Above the Herzl Museum and the main plaza is the Nations Garden, where trees have been planted by visiting presidents and heads of state. There are two small observation decks looking out over Jerusalem. A menorah sculpture stands opposite the main plaza entrance.

Official Ceremonies

  • Memorial Day ceremony for Israel’s Fallen Soldiers.
  • Memorial Day Ceremony for Victims of Terrorism, held at the memorial of terror in Israel.
  • Seventh of Adar ceremony for fallen soldiers whose resting place is unknown, held in Garden of the Missing Soldiers.
  • Independence Day ceremony, held at Mount Herzl Plaza.
  • Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at Yad Vashem.

Source: Wikipedia,