100, 000 Attend President Ben-zvi’s Funeral; Ben-gurion Delivers Eulogy
Menu JTA Search

100, 000 Attend President Ben-zvi’s Funeral; Ben-gurion Delivers Eulogy

Download PDF for this date

Izhak Ben-Zvi, second President of Israel, statesman, scholar, and Zionist pioneer, was laid to rest today after a funeral procession watched by more than 100, 000 saddened Israelis.

Interment of Israel’s beloved President took place in the simple family plot of the public cemetery of Jerusalem. It was preceded by wailing sirens and two minutes of silence throughout Israel which ushered in a nationwide cessation of activities until interment was completed. All places of entertainment have been closed since yesterday, the start of a country-wide seven-day period of mourning.

Before the funeral procession began from Jerusalem’s Convention Hall, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, a life-long associate of the President’s Zionist career, pronounced a eulogy on behalf of the Government. Visibly moved, Mr. Ben-Gurion recalled Mr. Ben-Zvi’s activities from his student days in Czarist Russia in 1904 when he organized the Jewish self-defense units for which his father and mother were exiled to Siberia.

Mr. Ben-Gurion described him as a man whom the people chose and loved, a faithful servant of “all tribes and communities of the House of Israel,” Jews and non-Jews. “He won the love of the entire Jewish people as was vouchsafed to no other man in our generation or in those to come, a privilege to which there is no parallel among our people, divided as it is by a multitude of parties, communities and tribes,” he said.

“He symbolized more than any other man in his days the love and unity of Israel and the entire people felt this,” the Prime Minister continued. “His words, ways, customs and attitudes were the essence of simplicity and modesty, true sincerity and purity of heart. Yesterday, the most esteemed, most beloved Jew in Israel departed from us and entered into the eternal shrine of Jewish history.”


Thousands of Israelis, in a virtually non-stop march, filed by the bier where it lay in state in a compound of Convention Hall. The Army cantor chanted the doxology and Amram Ben-Zvi, the President’s son, recited Kaddish, which was followed by the Prime Minister’s eulogy.

The the funeral procession to the cemetery was started, passing through streets deeply lined by the citizens paying their final respects. It was led by police and army units, mounted police and vans bearing scores of black-draped wreaths, and then the Chief Chaplain Shlomo Goren and other rabbis. The coffin was carried by commanders of the army, air and naval units.

Behind it walked Mrs. Ben-Zvi and members of the immediate family, Prime Minister Ben-Gurion, Chief Justice Yitzhak Olshan, Dr. Nahum Goldmann in his capacity as president of the World Zionist Organization; Mrs. Vera Weizmann, widow of Israel’s first President, Dr. Chaim Weizmann, Cabinet members; Moshe Sharett, chairman of the Jewish Agency executive, and Soviet Ambassador Mikhail Bodrov, the dean of the diplomatic corps, heading the foreign diplomats.

Outside Parliament Square the procession halted for a brief eulogy by a Knesset deputy speaker. The procession halted briefly at Jeshurun Synagogue where Mrs. Ben-Zvi and Amram Ben-Zvi had their garments torn in the traditional Kriah. Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Nissim pronounced a eulogy.

The Immediate family, Prime Minister Ben-Gurion and Cabinet members were the only mourners to proceed to the Har Hamenuchot (Hill of Repose), the public cemetery where the burial took place in accordance with Mr.Ben-Zvi’s final wishes. The body was lowered into the newly dug grave near the President’s father.

After the brief and simple burial ceremony, a 21-gun salute echoed through the Judean Hills as all stood at solemn attention before the grave of the President which was soon covered with wreaths. A small temporary marker was placed on the grave which read: “Here lies buried Izhak Ben-Zvi, President of the State of Israel.”

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund