M. M. Ussishkin Laid to Rest in Ancient Cave on Mount Scopus
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M. M. Ussishkin Laid to Rest in Ancient Cave on Mount Scopus

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All Jewish activity was suspended in Palestine today at 11 A.M. when this city witnessed the most impressive funeral ever held in Palestine in modern times, as Menchem Mendel Ussishkin, doyen of the Zionist movement and President of the Jewish National Fund, was laid to rest in “Nikanor’s Cave” in the grounds of the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus.

“Nikanor’s Cave,” which was uncovered ten years ago during excavations by Prof. Sukenik of the Hebrew University. dates from the time of the Second Temple and looks out on what was formerly the Temple grounds. Legend has it that from this point the Roman legions launched their attack on Jerusalem. Ussishkin expressed a desire to be buried there when he died. He planned to convert the Cave into a pantheon for Zionist leaders.

The funeral procession, which was arranged at an all-night session in the dead lesder’s house of prominent Palestine Jewish personalities, started from Ussishkin’s home. Leading the procession were pupils from the Jewish schools in Jerusalem, all of which were closed during the funeral. After them came the pall bearers, who were chosen from the surviving members of the first World Zionist Congress, members of the Jewish Agency and representatives of the Vaad Leumi. Ussishkin’s family followed after the pall bearers.

The entire executive of the Jewish Agency, members of the Vaad Leumi, the executive of the JNF, the Palestine Rabbinate, the Senate of the Hebrew University and the Hadasah followed in the procession. Then came representatives of the Palestine Government, consuls of the different countries, representatives of the municipal authorities, delegates from the Jewish settlements and representatives from the various youth organizations.

The funeral proceeded along the street that bears Ussishkin’s name and made its first stop at the synagogue where the aged leader used to worship. The next stop was made before the JNF building. From there the funeral proceeded to Mount Scopus, while all traffic was cleared from the streets.

Ussishkin left two messages in sealed envelopes. One was marked: “To be Opened At My Death.” The other bore the inscription: “To be Opened Seven Days After My Death.” The first message when opened was found to contain explicit instructions as to the funeral. It provided that no eulogies be delivered at Usaishsin’s bier and no flowers bedeck the casket. It asked that the casket be covered by the Jewish Blue-White flag and that only Kaddish and Ml Mole Rachmim be recited at the burial ceremony.

Ussishkin’s last words before he died were uttered to Dr. Rckach, who had been treating him. When the doctor entered the room in which the Zionist leader was sitting Ussishkin said to him: “Zehu Hasof.” (“This is the end.”) Dr. Rckach attempted to assure Ussishkin that he had no need to be alarmed and that he would feel better as soon as he had received the injection which the doctor was preparing. But Ussishkin only repeated: “This is the end. I tell you it will not help.” Five minutes later he was dead.

The news of his death spread like wildfire throughout Palestine. It reached Tel Aviv during a session of the municipal council. The meeting was immediately adjourned. All cafes and places of entertainment were ordered closed. Leading citizens of the city departed an masse for Jerusalem to pay their last respects to the venerable leader of Zionism.

Ussishkin continued to play a vital part in the affairs of the Yishub until the very hour of his death. Following the operation he underwent in the Rothschild Hadessah-University hospital about two weeks ago his physicians demanded that he remain in the hospital to convalesce. But when on the first day of Rosh Hashanah a rabbi came to the hospital and blew the Shofar, Ussishkin broke down and cried and demanded that he be taken home. Two days before Yom Kippur the doctors agreed to release him and he went home.

Disregarding his weakened condition Ussishkin closely followed the news of the world. Only a few hours before his death he conferred with Chief Rabbi Hersog in his room and discussed latest developments in Palestine. Shortly after the Chief Rabbi left he began to grow weaker, and by the time the doctor arrived he was but a few short minutes from his death.

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