Har Herzl (Mount Herzl) has been Israel’s official national cemetery since 1951. It is the final resting place of presidents, prime ministers and other leaders. It is also a military cemetery for many soldiers who gave their lives for the country.
I’ve visited Har Herzl many times over the past forty years, but never on a guided tour, and there were many things I didn’t know about it. So when I saw a request by Tali Tarlow for “test drivers” of this chapter of the book she’s been writing, I jumped at the chance. Tali is well known for her fun and informative scavenger hunts. I’ve been on three of them, all in Jerusalem: the Old City, Nachlaot and Yemin Moshe.
“We know how to do memorials,” said Erika, who joined me on Friday for the visit. It’s true. Unfortunately, this small, young country has had plenty of experience. And designers have created some innovative symbols. As well as the graves I mentioned above, we saw the memorials for passengers and crews of sunken ships and submarines, and for Ethiopian Jews who died trying to reach the Land of Israel. In Tali’s chapter, we read sad and uplifting stories, knowing that without the people buried in this place, we wouldn’t be living here.
At the top of a hill, we saw the tomb of Benjamin Ze’ev (Theodor) Herzl, the visionary of the State of Israel, after whom the place is named.
Har Herzl is also a lovely park, well laid out with trees, flowers and grass.
Although we enjoyed our morning on the mountain, Erika and I decided that next time we meet, it will be at a happier location.