January 16th 2014
There’s something very special about walking into the modest southern kibbutz hut where the first Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben Gurion, lived his later years. The furnishings, books and clothes have been preserved exactly as they were when David and Paula Ben Gurion lived here while the State of Israel was still in its youth, from 1953 until his death in 1973. Touring the Ben Gurion hut is much like being invited into their home. Of particular interest is Ben Gurion’s private library, which contains thousands of books on a wide range of subjects that interested the former head of state. A new film about Ben Gurion and his relationship to the Negev uses innovative animation to show the Ben Gurions in their home environment. English translation of the film is available for tourists.
Ben Gurion’s Hut is located on Kibbutz Sde Boker in the northern Negev. David Ben Gurion is known to have been a major proponent of developing Israel’s sparsely populated Negev Desert region. After visiting the fledgling desert community on an official visit in 1952, he expressed his jealousy at their simple lifestyle in a letter he wrote to kibbutz founders. The following year, Ben Gurion and his wife Paula were accepted as members of the kibbutz and ultimately lived there for 20 years. He settled there as a way of leading by example. Sde Boker’s modesty also provided the Ben Gurions with a quiet retirement, away from the stresses of Jerusalem – at least until Ben Gurion was re-elected for a second term as Prime Minister in 1955.
The hut’s preservation, remaining as it was in 1973, represents the fulfillment of a request in Ben Gurion’s will. Although the hut itself remains nearly untouched, paved pathways, gardens and stone bleachers have been added by the Ben Gurion Heritage Institute for the comfort of visiting tourists. Visitors can also tour the adjacent wooden hut which formerly served as guards’ quarters. The home been turned into a museum, emphasizing Ben Gurion’s special affinity for the Negev. Here, you’ll be able to learn more about Ben Gurion’s life, his strong ties to the Negev and the state of the Negev today, through an exhibit of quotes and photographs.