Named for Theodor Herzl, the visionary founder of modern Zionism, Mount Herzl is Israel’s national cemetery, housing the remains of Herzl himself. Also buried there are many of the Jewish state’s leaders over the years, and soldiers killed in battle. Among the figures interred at Mount Herzl are prime ministers Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir and Yitzhak Rabin, presidents Chaim Herzog and Zalman Shazar, and other prominent Zionist leaders.
Echoing the temporal proximity of Holocaust Remembrance Day to Israel’s Day of Remembrance for its war casualties, Mount Herzl is only a stone’s throw from the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and museum. But the two sites are dedicated to two very different types of grief: On the one hand, the incomprehensible loss of the Holocaust, where one is crushed under the sheer volume of the destruction, and on the other, the more intimate, but nevertheless communal, sorrow for Israel’s perished in combat. This mourning is most acutely felt on Remembrance Day, when bereaved families slowly file in crowds through the gates of Mount Herzl to attend the state ceremony.
The Herzl Museum
At the entrance to Mount Herzl is the New Herzl Museum (with an admission fee), with fascinating insights into Herzl and the history of Israel. In a country as small as Israel, every soldier is truly a world in himself. And it is perhaps only at Mount Herzl that one can truly appreciate the pain and tribulations that this country endured in order to come into being and survive to see celebrate over 60 years. There, among the dense rows upon rows of identical flat gravestones stretching into the distance, one can begin to grasp the gaping wounds and profound, aching weariness – the prices Israel has paid in its relentless struggle for survival.