January 13th 2015
To visit Tel Aviv’s Independence Hall is to touch the moment that the State of Israel was born.
Imagine that it’s Friday afternoon, May 14, 1948 at 4:00 PM. The hall is overflowing with dignitaries, journalists and leaders of the Jewish people in Palestine. In eight hours, the British government, which has controlled Palestine since 1923, will be pulling out its official presence and returning to Britain. At this exact moment in history, David Ben-Gurion, the man who would become Israel’s first Prime Minister, makes an historic declaration: “…we hereby declare the establishment of the Jewish State in the Land of Israel. She is the State of Israel.”
This dramatic, historic moment took place in what is now known as Independence Hall. Originally the home of Meir Dizengoff, the first mayor of Tel Aviv, the house was donated to the city of Tel Aviv after the death of Dizengoff’s wife in 1930 with a request that it be turned into a museum. In 1936, it was opened as the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. In 1948, it was the scene of the declaration of the creation of the State of Israel and the building was renovated again and reopened to the public as Independence Hall in 1978.
Today, Independence Hall is a small museum where visitors can view exhibits, hear original recordings and watch a film, an experience that conveys the story of Israel’s Declaration of Independence. Visitors can listen to an original recording of the ceremony in its entirety, including David Ben Gurion’s historic speech, the recitation of Sheheheyanu (a Jewish blessing of thanksgiving) and the concluding singing of Hatikva, Israel’s national anthem. In a small room off the main hall, visitors can watch a 16-minute film describing the events of the period and the history of the building.
See an original, top-secret invitation to the ceremony and explore Theodore Herzl’s role in the establishment of Tel Aviv as well as the work of former Mayor Dizengoff. Most of the items associated with the 1948 ceremony on display at the museum are in their original form, although a few have been restored using precise historical details. Moreover, most of the pictures hanging on the walls are the same ones that were on display on that historic day in 1948, intensifying the feeling of being transported back to the day the State of Israel was born.