TEL AVIV (Nov. 11)
Dr. Chaim Weizmann, Israel’s first President, was this afternoon laid to rest in the garden of his home at Rehovoth in an impressive ceremony. In the two days before the funeral that the President lay in state on a platform in front of his home about 250,000 Israelis filed past to take their last view of their beloved President.
Present at the funeral itself were about 400 persons, including members of the family, personal friends from various countries of the world and members of the government, Parliament, diplomatic corps and national institutions. The mourners passed through two lines of fully armed paratroopers and approached the coffin which was guarded by high officers of the Israel armed services.
Among those who arrived for the funeral were the Chief Rabbis of Israel and the Chief Rabbis of the major cities, as well as Arab clergy in traditional Moslem garb and representatives of various Christian churches in Israel. Each of the mourners passed the coffin and then took up his position in a square in front of the platform.
Shortly before 2:30 P.M. members of the President’s family and close friends of the late President came outdoors and began assembling for the services. Behind them came the members of the government, heads of the Jewish Agency executive and others. Ten Lieutenant Colonels and ten Brigadier Generals of the Israel Army took up positions around the coffin. The religious services were begun by Chief Rabbi Isaac Herzog and were concluded by the prayer for the dead by Chief Rabbi BenZion Uziel. The Chief Army Chaplain also participated.
When the services came to a close, a siren sounded in Rehovoth. Simultaneously, sirens sounded throughout the length and breadth of the land and all movement came to a halt as the people of Israel maintained a two-minute period of silence in memory of their dead chief.
HEADS OF VARIOUS GOVERNMENTS SEND FLORAL WREATHS
In the square in front of the President’s home the silence continued as the ten Lieutenant Colonels hoisted the coffin to their shoulders and, in measured steps, began the procession through the green woods to the nearby grave which had previously been sanctified by the Army’s Chief Chaplain. Army and police units at the grave presented arms as the coffin was lowered into its final resting place.
Dr. Weizmann’s son Benjamin recited the prayer for the dead, and turned the first shovel of earth onto the coffin. Friends and intimates in the government followed him to the grave to add their shovel of earth. Moments later a 21-gun salute by a battery nearby roared out the signal that the ceremony had ended. Air force planes flew overhead during the services.
At the end of the ceremony more than 50 wreaths which had been sent to the President’s home by the heads of various governments, by friends and others were laid on the grave by soldiers from the unit guarding the President’s residence. The first wreath was laid by Mrs. Vera Weizmann and bore the legend, in Hebrew and in English: “To My Beloved Husband.” Among the wreaths was that of Queen Juliana of Holland, which was flown to Israel in a special plane, of President Peron of Argentina, of President Einaudi of Italy and from the widow of Gen. Orde Wingate, beloved British organizer of the Haganah and personal friend of the Weizmanns.
Immediately after the ceremony, Mrs. Weizmann went to the British military cemetery to mark Armistice Day by placing wreaths on the graves of her son Michael, who died as an RAF pilot in the Battle for Britain in the second World War, and of a friend of her son’s who was killed in Palestine while serving in the British forces during the Arab riots of 1936-39.
All factories, offices and shops closed down between noon and 4 P.M. today. In the schools children were assembled to hear eulogies of the late President. Yesterday, all local councils held special sessions in memory of the President, and many of them decided to name their main streets for him.
Messages from all corners of the world continued to pour into government offices and into the President’s home. Among them was one from Dr. Ralph Bunche, former U.N. mediator for Palestine, who succeeded in establishing an armistice between the Arab states and Israel. The Soviet charge d’affaires in Tel Aviv called at the Foreign Ministry to express his government’s condolences. The Minister, Pavel Yershov, was prevented from calling by illness.