The Menachem Begin Heritage Center
An as-yet undiscovered treasure among Jerusalem tourism sites, the Menachem Begin Heritage Center was built in honor of Israel's sixth Prime Minister.
Begin was one of Israel's most colorful and humble statesmen. In his youth, he was arrested in Poland by the NKVD (predecessor of the KGB), accused of being an agent of British imperialism, and was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in a Siberian gulag. Ironically, Begin went on to be one of the most militant opponents of the British Mandatory powers.
Begin's years as prime minister were marked by the daring Israeli bombing of the Osirak nuclear plant in Iraq, which he authorized, and the signing of a peace treaty with Egypt in 1979, for which he and Anwar Sadat shared the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Menachem Begin Center includes a museum, a library and a research center. It runs a variety of programs aimed at teaching Begin's belief in democracy and parliamentarianism, his vision of peace for a secure Israel, social justice and the return of Jews to Israel, with special units and activities on civics and government aimed at teenagers, as well as many lectures.
The museum includes historical reconstructions, dramatic videos, interactive exhibits and a surround sound narration that invite the visitors to “experience” different stages of Begins’ life: his youth in Poland, his experiences as commander of the Irgun, his many years as leader of the Opposition and finally, as Prime Minister of the State of Israel. The narration is available in Hebrew, English, Russian, Arabic, French and Spanish.
For some reason, even many Jerusalemites haven’t discovered this place yet, which is unfortunate. Although the museum is understandably focused on Begin’s life, it perforce gives a fascinating glimpse into the birth of the State of Israel. The center is located down the street from the Mount Zion hotel (with its cable car museum), next to a significant archaeological dig and near Yemin Moshe, so it can be included easily in a Jerusalem tourism walking itinerary.
There is a café in the center, but, even better, there are benches and tables in the park across the street with a great view of the Old City ramparts (in fact, I have yet to be there and not spot an artist or two painting.)
You must pre-register to visit the museum by calling 02-565-2011 to make reservations.
6 S.U. Nahon St.
Sun, Mon, Wed. and Thurs.: 9:00-16:30
Friday and Holiday Eves 9:00-12:30
There may be longer hours during the holidays of Sukkot and Passover.
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