June 28th 2014
Three Zionist siblings – Aharon, Sarah and Rebecca Aharonson – served as the secret leaders of a major underground civilian organization that operated in Israel during World War I. They called their organization N.I.L.I., which is a Hebrew acronym for the phrase “netzach Yisrael lo yishaker,” words that come from the Book of Samuel and mean, “The eternity of Israel will not lie.” In the days when N.I.L.I. was active in Israel, the Ottoman Empire was an oppressive ruling power. The Aharonson siblings and the rest of the N.I.L.I. members spied on the Ottomans on behalf of the British, in order to help England conquer the region, paving the way for the Palestine Mandate, which was established after the war.
Located adjacent to the historic and scenic pedestrian mall on Hameyasdim Street in the northern town of Zichron Yaakov, the N.I.L.I. Museum – Beit Aharonson tells the story of the Aharonson family and the underground espionage network they led. The museum is housed in the former Aharonson family home.
The Aharonsons were among the founding families of Zichron Yaakov who settled there as early as 1882. When the thumb of Ottoman rule became too cruel and oppressive to the foundling Jewish settlements in the Land of Israel, the young Aharonsons and their colleagues determined to act to overthrow Ottoman rule. Aside from the Aharonson siblings, the most famous N.I.L.I. member was Avshalom Feinberg of Hadera, who served as Aharon Aharonson’s primary assistant as well as the fiancé of Rebecca Aharonson. Many find the tragic love story between Sarah and Avshalom moving and controversial.
While visiting the museum, be sure to screen the audio-visual presentation about N.I.L.I., which can be shown in Hebrew, English, French, Spanish or Russian. Note the displays of the original historical documents that led to the creation of N.I.L.I. A visit to the museum includes a tour of the Aharonson family home, which has been preserved with its original, upscale furniture and luxurious household goods. You’ll also be able to tour the home of Aharon Aharonson, which has also been preserved with its original library, furniture and weapons cache. Don’t miss noting the concealed escape route. Since the historical information presented here includes the retelling of an attempted suicide, the N.I.L.I. Museum – Beit Aharonson might not be appropriate for younger children.