TEL AVIV (Nov. 9)
Dr. Chaim Weizmann, first President of the reborn State of Israel, died at his home at Rehovoth this morning, several weeks before he would have celebrated his 78th birthday. Death came quietly at 5:55 A. M. local time following two heart attacks between 2:30 A. M. and 4:30 A. M.
The funeral has been held over until Tuesday afternoon, to permit Dr. Weizmann’s son who is now in Britain to attend. Members of the President’s family are assembling at Rehovoth from all parts of Israel. The President will lie in state today and tomorrow. Thousands of persons began filing silently past his open, flag draped coffin this evening. Special trains brought thousands from Tel Aviv and Haifa to pay their last respects.
Only members of the diplomatic corps, and of the government and invited leaders of all phases of life in Israel and from the Jewish communities abroad will attend the funeral. The President will be laid to rest in the garden of his home at Rehovoth, in accord with his will. The military authorities are responsible for the funeral and soldiers with fixed bayonets are standing guard at the bier. The Minister of the Interior has proclaimed a week of national mourning during which all flags will be flown at half-mast.
Men, women and children in all walks of life and in all places in Israel broke down and wept unashamedly when they learned of the President’s death. The announcer on Kol Israel, who informed the people of the State of their loss, burst into tears in the midst of the announcement. When he was able, he concluded the official statement in a heavily choked voice. Neighbors in Rehovoth poured out of their homes and surrounded the President’s residence, many weeping.
Government leaders, informed of the President’s death, hurried to Rehovoth to pay condolences to Mrs. Vera Weizmann, who was the only person at the bedside of her husband at the time of his death. Acting President Joseph Sprinzak arrived first, followed shortly thereafter by Premier Ben Gurion and members of the government.
Schools were closed today and will remain so until after the funeral. Many businesses were shut down when their proprietors learned of the death and government officials who reported to their offices this morning wore black. All entertainment places will remain closed until after the funeral. Ships in the harbors lowered their flags. Special editions of all newspapers were issued in this city and Jerusalem.
When the members of the diplomatic corps learned of the death of the President, they cancelled all social functions scheduled for the next week, including a special dinner at the Swedish legation to celebrate the birthday of the Swedish King, which was scheduled for Tuesday.