Israel’s Independence Hall is the place where the Jewish leadership declared Israel an independent, modern Jewish state! It was an incredible moment during Jews and non- Jews alike around the world came out to the streets or sat next their radios. For the first time in almost 2,000 years there was a Jewish State! Here are five things you need to know about Israel’s Independence Hall:
#1: It was the first house built in the city of Tel Aviv.
In 1904, political Zionist leader Theodor Herzl passed away. This prompted his followers to move to the Holy Land to make his dream come true. Thousands of Jews coming to the land established the Second Aliyah. Akiva Aryeh Weiss had a different idea. He proposed to build a modern, Hebrew city. It would have running water, electricity, and a modern sewage system. Every resident would speak Hebrew every moment of everyday.
After presenting this idea in 1906, the group creating Tel Aviv went straight to work buying the land. Three years later, in April 1909, the Ahuzat Bayit organization came to the land of Tel Aviv. They began building the first Hebrew, modern city.
The building of Independence Hall was the first house built in Tel Aviv—39 years before the Jewish Provisional Council declared independence!
#2: The first mayor of Tel Aviv, Meir Dizengoff, lived here.
The first mayor of Tel Aviv moved in after he finished building it. His name was Meir Dizengoff. Dizengoff and his wife, Zina, came from Ukraine, and worked very hard to invest in the city of Tel Aviv. Meir Dizengoff worked toward advancing education and the city. Zina worked toward advancing the arts, both fine arts and performance arts. The city knew here for always walking around the city with umbrella. Their work and legacy was so influential that their name is still part of the city. Dizengoff Center is a popular mall, named after Meir Dizengoff. Then the city named Dizengoff Street after the first mayor. And Dizengoff Square was named after Zina Dizengoff. The first house of Tel Aviv was the house of the first mayor of Tel Aviv.
#3: It was the first Art Museum of Tel Aviv.
During the first couple’s work, Zina Dizengoff fell ill and passed away in 1930. Meir Dizengoff decided to move and reside on the second floor, and turn the ground floor to the first Art Museum of Tel Aviv. Its beginnings were modest, with a small collection. But during the years leading up to the Declaration of Independence ceremony, the art museum gained more and more respect and notoriety. Today, Tel Aviv’s Art Museum is a little further north on Ibn Gvirol Street.
#4: The Jewish leadership prepared for the ceremony in two days!
The Partition Plan was passed on November 29, 1947. The plan created two states in the British Mandate—one for the Jewish population and one for the Arab population. The Partition Plan also dictated that the British had six months to leave the land and return home. The War of Independence began the day after the UN passed the Partition Plan. The Jewish leadership had to decide how to move forward. Following the vote there was a huge debate: do we wait or do we do it now? When they decided to declare independence, they had two days to prepare the event before the British left! They chose this building—a small art museum in Tel Aviv—because it was the safest building in all of Tel Aviv.
The Jewish leadership didn’t waste any time and began getting ready! And on May 14, 1948, they declared independence of the modern State of Israel in Israel’s Independence Hall!
#5: There is a magic in experiencing the story of Israel’s Independence Hall!
There is a whole lot more you can learn about Israel’s Independence Hall. But one of the most amazing thing about it is the magical moment you experience you sit in the chairs of the main hall and hear the recording of David Ben Gurion, the leader of the Jewish Provisional Council and the first Prime Minister of Israel, declare independence. It’s amazing when you close your eyes and put yourself in that moment! Sometimes groups skip this site, but if you’re coming on your own or have some free time, make sure you don’t miss this site!
Israel’s Independence Hall is a special gem in the country and in the city of Tel Aviv. It’s got an amazing and inspirational story. But the most amazing part of the story is that the building is incredibly humble. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you could easily not find it. So when you’re on way there, don’t blink! You’ll miss out on this amazing story and this incredible place.
Finally, have a happy Israeli Independence Day! May we have many successful and peaceful years to come!