Israel’s Independence Hall

Israel’s Independence Hall

The location of the original reading and signing of Israel's Declaration of Independence, Independence Hall is an important historical site. On Friday, May 14, 1948, eight hours before the termination of the British Mandate of Palestine, the members of the People's Council and other invited leaders gathered to hear David Ben Gurion announce the establishment of the State of Israel. Visitors to today's Holy Land can tour this site for compelling exhibits commemorating this historic event.

The declaration ceremony was held in what was at the time the Tel Aviv Museum. In order to keep the event secret from the British authorities, invitations were sent out only that morning and invitees were asked to keep quiet. The declaration was scheduled for early afternoon, before the Sabbath set in, and was broadcast live as the first transmission of the new radio station Kol Yisrael. David Ben Gurion, head of the People's Council, read the document aloud and the signees were called up one by one to inscribe the document. Then Rabbi Fishman-Maimon recited the Jewish blessing of thanksgiving (Shehechiyanu) and the entire crowd sang the HaTikvah, which ultimately became Israel's national anthem.

Independence Hall has been set up to recreate the exciting ceremony with the names of those who attended on the dais and chairs. Zionism founder Theodor Herzl's portrait hangs above center stage, flanked by two long Israeli flags, as it was at the time of the declaration. Many of the pieces of art which hung on the walls of the Tel Aviv Museum still hang in the hall today. There is also an exhibit displaying invitations, documents, recording equipment and more. An original recording of the ceremony is available for listening, and a 16-minute video tells the story of the War of Independence, the Declaration of Independence and the history of the building.

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