Mystery solved: Missing Herzl pall found in KKL-JNF House in Tel Aviv

“It is a great privilege to find this important historical item,” said Danny Atar, head of KKL-JNF.

August 8, 2019 05:35
2 minute read.
Danny Atar, head of KKL-JNF with the parochet

Danny Atar, head of KKL-JNF with the parochet. (photo credit: JORGE NOVOMINSKI)

The pall that was meant to cover Theodor Herzl’s coffin when he was buried in 1949 in the Land of Israel has been discovered in a Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund warehouse.

The pall disappeared in 1949 after Herzl’s burial ceremony. Two weeks ago, at a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of Herzl’s burial in Israel, a reconstructed pall was created and displayed. Now, the original pall has been found.

“It is a great privilege to find this important historical item,” said Danny Atar, head of KKL-JNF.

“Without Zionism there would be no JNF; without JNF there would be no Zionism. The pall has sentimental value and is interwoven with the history of Zionism.”

The curtain was found because the organization was preparing to convert its KKL-JNF house in Tel Aviv from an office building to a boutique hotel, in which there will also be a museum for the preservation of Zionist history.

During the preparation, Dr. Arye Ben saw a cloth – gray – folded under a cupboard, which did not look like it had any specific value. But once it was unfolded, the team realized it was the missing pall.
KKL-JNF archived photo of the parochet from August, 1949 (Credit: KKL-JNF Archive/Kurt Meirovich)
For years, there have been numerous conspiracy theories circulating regarding about what might have happened to this pall.

It is decorated with a blue-and-white motif and embroidered with gold with the image of a lion inside a Star of David, according to a description provided by the World Zionist Organization. Next to the lion are seven gold stars reminiscent of Herzl’s original proposal for a flag of the Jewish state.

The verse “Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, O My people; and I will bring you into the Land of Israel” (Ezekiel 37:12) is written on the upper part of the pall, followed by a verse from the Book of Psalms, “Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy” (Psalms 126:5).

The verses symbolize the fulfillment of Herzl’s vision and the joy that his efforts led to in the establishment of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel, WZO said.

Herzl wanted to be buried in Mandatory Palestine immediately after his death, but the burial was delayed.

The copycat pall that was revealed at the 70th-anniversary ceremony was made by Dr. Yitzhak Weiss, son of the Judaica artist Arthur Weiss, who designed the original pall.

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