The historic Trumpeldor Cemetery or Old Cemetery is located on Trumpeldor Street in Tel Aviv. Among those buried here are Zionist leader Haim Arlosoroff (1899-1933); Israeli parliamentarian Gideon Ben-Ysrael (1923-2014); Israel’s national poet Hayim Nahman Bialik (1873-1934); Max Simon Nordau (1849-1923) co-founder of the World Zionist Organization (WIZO); Ahad Ha’am (1856-1927) a foremost pre-state Zionist; Moshe Sharett (1894-1965) second Prime Minister of Israel; Meir Dizengoff (1861-1936) Tel Aviv’s first mayor and many other renowned cultural and political figures.
The cemetery was established in 1902 on a plot of unoccupied land near Jaffa. There had been an epidemic within the walls of Jaffa, and the Ottoman rulers would not allow Jewish dead to be buried in the existing burial grounds within the city. So Jewish community leader Shimon Rokach bought 10 acres of land along the desolate sandy shore north of Jaffa.
At the time of establishment, the cemetery was in a remote location. Six years later in 1909, a group of Jewish pioneers founded the modern housing estate of Ahuzat Bayit which merged with other Jewish communities on the outskirts of Jaffa to form Tel Aviv. The city grew around the cemetery, and today it is in the downtown area surrounded by busy streets, and tall buildings.
After the death of Joseph Trumpeldor(1880-1920), the cemetery was named in his honor. Joseph Trumpeldor was an early Zionist activist and national hero who was instrumental in organizing Jewish immigration to Palestine and died defending the Jewish settlement of Tel Hai from an Arab attack. Trumpeldor is buried in Kfar Giladi in Galilee, near the site of the Tel Hai battle.
The cemetery is still in use, although only those willing to pay a fortune, or those who purchased burial plots many years ago can be buried here today. There are three entrance gates to the cemetery from Hovevei Zion and Zion Pinsker Streets. The cemetery contains approximately 5,000 graves but the highlights include the eastern gate which is the oldest and the easter section where famous leaders and founders of Israel are buried.
In the southwest section, you can find the gravestones of well-known cultural personalities. There is one Commonwealth service war grave of a Jewish soldier who served in the British Royal Fusiliers Jewish Legion. Take a wander among the graves of Israel’s founding fathers in Trumpeldor Cemetery.
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