Israeli Supreme Court Building

About this place

The Israeli Supreme Court Building is one of the landmarks worth seeing in Jerusalem’s new city. It stands in Jerusalem’s Givat Ram governmental precinct, near to the Knesset (Israeli parliament building). For forty-four years the Supreme Court was in Jerusalem’s Russian Compound. Construction of the new Supreme Court building began in the 1980s and was funded by the Jewish philanthropist, Dorothy de Rothschild. Architects Ada Karmi-Melamede and Ram Karmi designed the courthouse, which is packed with symbolism and architectural themes. The new Supreme Court building opened in 1992. It houses the highest judicial authority in Israel. Judgments made by the Supreme Court are binding on all lower courts and all people and institutions in the country. There are 15 judges and a panel of three Justices usually sit for each case. The Supreme Court acts as a constitutional court and a court of appeals.

Israeli Supreme Court Building

The Supreme Court building is loved by some and hated by others! The courthouse has three main buildings: a rectangular administrative wing where the judges’ chambers surround a cloistered courtyard; a building with five courtrooms, each extending out of the main hall and a square library building with a round courtyard and pyramid-shaped antechamber or “gatehouse.” The blend of architectural styles gives a nod to several periods in Jerusalem’s history. For example, the copper-clad pyramid roof of the entrance was inspired by the pyramid-shaped roof of the Tomb of Zechariah in the Kidron Valley. Visitors entering the court pass a wall of unhewn stone reminiscent of the buildings of ancient Jerusalem. A curved panoramic window lets in natural light and offers views of the city, including one of the oldest neighborhoods, Nachla’ot. The many windows and glass walls let in natural light, but also symbolize enlightenment and transparency. The Supreme Court building has a mix of contrasts–light and shade, narrow and wide, round and square, open spaces and closed.

Supreme Court Museum

The Supreme Court Museum presents the history of the Israeli judicial system. It covers the judiciary system in Israel under Ottoman rule, the British Mandate, and the State of Israel. The museum looks at the legal system and changing society during these historic periods. The museum also covers precedent-setting judgments since the establishment of the State of Israel. There are sections on human rights judgments, judicial disputes, and the law system. A video presentation explains the inner workings of the Israeli justice system. Of special interest is the reference to the unique character of the State of Israel as both a Jewish state and a democracy.

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