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Har HaMenuchot

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Title: Har HaMenuchot  
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Har HaMenuchot

Har HaMenuchot
הַר המנוחות
Aerial view of the mountain, August 2013
Elevation 750 m (2,460 ft)
Location Jerusalem
Range Judean
Har HaMenuchot
The cemetery with Har Nof in the background
Established 1951
Location Jerusalem
Country Israel
Size 580 dunams (0.58 km2; 0.22 sq mi)[1]
Number of graves over 150,000[1]
Find a Grave Find a Grave: Har HaMenuchot

Har HaMenuchot (Hebrew: הר המנוחות‎, Ashkenazi pronunciation, Har HaMenuchos, lit. "Mount of Those who are Resting", also known as Givat Shaul Cemetery) is the largest cemetery in Jerusalem, Israel. The hilltop burial ground lies at the western edge of the city adjacent to the neighborhood of Givat Shaul, with commanding views of Mevaseret Zion to the north, Motza to the west, and Har Nof to the south. Opened in 1951 on 300 dunams (0.30 km2; 0.12 sq mi) of land,[2] it has continually expanded into new sections on the northern and western slopes of the hill. As of 2008, the cemetery encompasses 580 dunams (0.58 km2; 0.22 sq mi) in which over 150,000 people are buried.[1]


Until 1948, Jewish burials in Jerusalem were conducted in the centuries-old Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives. In 1948, the Arab siege of Jerusalem cut off access to the Mount of Olives, and this remained the status quo after the 1949 Armistice Agreements. In 1948 several temporary cemeteries opened to handle wartime deaths in Jerusalem, including the Sanhedria cemetery, Sheikh Badr Cemetery, and the Shaare Zedek Cemetery (on the grounds of the old Shaare Zedek Hospital on Jaffa Road). After the establishment of the state, however, these were deemed inadequate for the needs of a growing city.[2]

In late summer 1948, developers identified a 300 dunams (0.30 km2; 0.12 sq mi) hilltop located between Givat Shaul and Motza and overlooking Highway 1. It was outside the boundaries of Jerusalem at that time, yet accessible to the city, and it had soft rock for grave-digging. They calculated that each dunam would accommodate 200 graves and estimated a need for 1,000 graves per year. At the time, the city of Jerusalem had 150,000 Jewish residents with a mortality rate of 1,000 annually; at that rate, the new cemetery was expected to suffice for the next 40 years.[2]

The developers received permission to build the cemetery a month later, but disagreements between the various burial societies delayed the first burial until the fall of 1951.[2] With the opening of the new cemetery, civilian graves were transferred here from the temporary cemeteries at Sheikh Badr[3] and the old Shaare Zedek Hospital.

In 1951 a new cemetery was establish at Mount Herzl, dedicated by government decision as Israel's national cemetery, where national leaders and fallen soldiers would be interred.

By 1988 Har HaMenuchot had about 50,000 graves.[3] In the 1990s developers began expanding the cemetery onto the northern and western slopes of the hill.[4] By 2008 the cemetery spanned 580 dunams (0.58 km2; 0.22 sq mi) in which more than 150,000 people are interred.[1]

In November 2012 the Jerusalem municipality approved a plan to shield the view of the cemetery from Highway 1, the main entryway to Jerusalem, by planting cypress trees and erecting a stone wall. The plan would allow for continued expansion of the cemetery to the north and west.[4]


The graves on Har HaMenuchot are divided into sections operated by various Yemenite, and Bukharan Jewish communities. The Kehillat Yerushalayim burial society also operates a special section reserved for those whose Jewish identity is questionable, such as non-Jewish immigrants and atheists. (Bona fide Christians and Muslims are not buried here, but in their own cemeteries.)[6] Both the Kehillat Yerushalayim and the Sephardi burial societies maintain an on-site funeral parlor.[7]

As the official municipal burial ground, Har HaMenuchot accommodates free burials for Israeli citizens and tourists who die while in Israel; the cost of the plot and funeral services is paid for by Bituah Leumi, the National Insurance Institute.[6] However, the choice of plot is left to the burial society, and if a spouse wishes to be buried in the adjacent plot, he or she must pay for the second plot.[8] According to the law, the burial society must reserve the plots on both sides of a newly-dug grave for 90 days in order to give the spouse and relatives of the deceased the option to purchase them.[6] According to the Kehillat Yerushalayim burial society, 90 percent of the burials at Har HaMenuchot involve couples.[6] Stone monuments must be paid for by the family of the deceased.[6] The burial societies recoup their development costs and make their profit on the sale of plots to Jews living abroad, with the price of the plot, burial costs, and transportation of the body by airline exceeding US$11,000. Burials from abroad constitute an estimated one-fifth to one-third of all burials.[7]


The names of family members killed in the Holocaust are engraved on the side of the grave of Chava Esther Wachtfogel (right), wife of Rabbi Nosson Meir Wachtfogel (grave at left).

Like other Jewish cemeteries in Jerusalem, the plots on Har HaMenuchos consist of an underground grave topped by a rectangular platform of poured concrete, faced with stone tiles, that rises 2 feet (0.61 m) or more above-ground. The name, date and praises of the deceased are inscribed on the top panel and occasionally on the sides. The writing is either engraved and filled in with black lead, or simply painted on. In some cases, names of family members of the deceased who died in the Holocaust are engraved on the sides of the gravestone. Many graves include a small cavity hollowed out of the box, where memorial candles are placed.[6] The graves are generally positioned less than 1 foot (0.30 m) apart.[9]

The sections run by the Kehillat Yerushalayim and Perushim burial societies differ in appearance. The former is divided into color-coded sections that are easily reached by roadways, and has trees and bushes planted alongside the sections to provide shade for visitors on hot summer days. The Perushim section, on the other hand, abides by customs maintained in Jewish cemeteries for centuries, including the complete absence of trees or vegetation near the graves or even bordering the road.[7]

Kohanim are interred in a separate section just outside the main entrance, so that their family members who are not allowed to enter cemeteries to avoid tumas meis (ritual impurity caused by the dead) may stand by the side of the road and pray at their ancestors' graves.

The cemetery contains a genizah (sacred texts repository) where kvitlach (prayer notes) from the Western Wall are buried.[10]

In addition to visitor parking, the cemetery is serviced by Egged bus number 54, which has its terminus opposite the Jerusalem Central Bus Station.

Points of interest

A man prays at the grave of the Belzer Rebbe.

Near the main entrance lies the original Chelkat Harabbonim (Hebrew: חלקת הרבנים‎, "Rabbis' Section") operated by the Ashkenazi (Perushim) burial society, which includes the graves of many gedolim of the past 60 years from around the world. The largest grave in this section is that of Rabbi Aharon Rokeach, the fourth Belzer Rebbe, which has become a shrine for thousands of visitors annually.[7] An area of dalet amos (four cubits) surrounds this grave.[11] An iron parapet constructed nearby allows Kohanim to pray near the rabbinical graves without exposing themselves to tumah (ritual impurity).[7] Another Chelkas Harabbonim is located on the north slope of the hill;[7] this is the resting place for Rabbis Shlomo Wolbe, Nosson Meir Wachtfogel, and Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, among others.

A grave known as a segula (propitious remedy) for childless women is that of Miriam ha-Koveset (Hebrew: מרים הכובסת‎, Miriam the Laundress), who only worked in the homes of Torah scholars, including Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv[12] and the Zvhiller Rebbe, Rabbi Shlomo Goldman.[13] Once Miriam asked the Zvhiller Rebbe for a blessing for children, but he blessed her that in her merit, others would merit to have children. Twenty-nine years after her death in 1964, one of her neighbors had a dream in which Miriam appeared to her, told her of the Zvhiller Rebbe's promise, and gave her directions to her grave. On her yahrzeit that year, busloads of women came to pray at the grave while a Torah scholar recited prayers for the elevation of her soul. There were 32 known cases of women who prayed at Miriam's grave and gave birth to children that year. Since then, her grave, located near the main parking lot, has been renovated and enlarged to accommodate women year-round.[13]

Notable rabbis buried at Har HaMenuchot

Grave of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein.
Grave of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, with Hebrew and English inscriptions.

Notable rabbis reinterred at Har HaMenuchot

Zionist personalities buried at Har HaMenuchot

Other notable people buried at Har Hamenuchot

See also


  1. ^ a b c d
  2. ^ a b c d
  3. ^ a b Wager, Eliyahu (1988). Illustrated Guide to Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Publishing House, Ltd., p. 269.
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ a b c d e f
  7. ^ a b c d e f
  8. ^
  9. ^ (subscription)
  10. ^ (subscription)
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ a b

External links

  • Burial in Jerusalem: The Har HaMenuchot Cemetery
  • Kiddush Chelka Ceremony at Har HaMenuchos by the Belz Community
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