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I have visited many Jewish cemeteries in Poland. Most of them were closed cemeteries, and often forgotten. Going to Tel-Aviv, I heard about the Trumpeldor cemetery, which is one of the most important in the country, and I decided to visit it.
By a complete coincidence, my first sleeping place in Tel-Aviv was really close from this cemetery. However, my Covido situation did not allow me to visit (positive for COVID). I made it later, almost last day of my stay.
This cemetery is located between Trumpeldor, Hovevei Tsiyon, Bograshov and Pinsker Streets. It is located in the city center (Lev ha-Ir district) and you can easily reach it on foot or use public transport. To get inside, we need to use the entrance gate, next to which you will also find a handful of information about this place.
History of the cemetery
In 1902, an epidemic broke out, which quickly spread to Palestine as well. Turkish authorities (then it was the Ottoman Empire) banned burying the dead in the city center. The leader of the Jewish community, located near the Newe Cewek estate, asked the authorities to create a Jewish cemetery.
The cemetery was established in the same year. The first person to be buried at the Jewish cemetery was Samuel David Gershin-Zane. The beginnings of the cemetery are also associated with many nameless graves – victims of the aforementioned epidemic. For 30 years it was the only cemetery in Tel-Aviv, until the opening of the Nahalat Yitzak cemetery.
The cemetery is located between residential buildings and covers an area of over 10 acres and is called the Old Cemetery. Over 5,000 people are buried there.
In the cemetery you will find information in English, but not much. If you have the opportunity, go with someone local who knows the history and language to discuss individual graves or monuments on an ongoing basis and learn more about them, because there is something interesting behind each of them.
It is open every day, except for the Sabbath, from 6.30 am to 7.00 pm. On Friday, the day before Shabbat, the cemetery closes at 2 p.m.
The city’s founders, first inhabitants, as well as cultural and historical figures are buried here. You can visit the tombs of Ehad Ha’am, Haim Arlozorov, Haim Nachman Bialik, Menahem Sheinkin, Dov Hoz. Zionist movement leaders such as Max Nordau, Meir Dizengoff and Shaul Tchernichovsky are also buried in the cemetery.
The cemetery also houses the tomb of Moshe Sharett, whose image is on the 20 shekels banknote. Apparently he asked his tombstone to say nothing. The plaque above his grave, however, contains a great deal of text. According to Mary Friedman, this is meant to be a thought provoking example of how we impose our memories on those who have passed away.
Worth a visit?
Trumpeldor Cemetery has an interesting location and looks very good. Friends living in Tel-Avive said that “all the streets of Tel-Aviv” are buried at Trumpeldor Cemetery – meaning that many of the street patrons in the city are buried in Trumpeldor Cemetery. It is worth visiting this place and walking around it. Many say a visit to Trumpeldor Cemetery is a journey through Israel’s social, cultural and political history.