Knesset to celebrate 63 years by opening doors to public

Birthday celebrations to include public debates, tours by guides dressed as historical figures.

Knesset vote 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Knesset vote 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The Knesset is celebrating its 63rd year by opening its doors to the public for the first time next month, with events for children, students and adults.
Knesset birthday events occur every year on Tu B’Shvat, the Hebrew date on which the Provisional State Council first met in 1949. This year, the day falls on February 8.
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As part of the celebrations, MKs plan to participate in public debates on topics that have recently made the news.
For example, Finance Committee Chairman Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) and Committee on the Status of Women Chairwoman Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) will debate discrimination against women singing in the IDF. MK Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi) will defend his bill to save outposts in a debate with MK Taleb a- Sanaa (United Arab List-Ta’al).
No committee meetings are set to take place during the Knesset’s open house. Committee rooms will be used for lectures by MKs on topics ranging from Israeli national identity by MK Doron Avital (Kadima), to ethics in the Knesset by MK Yitzhak Vaknin (Shas), to an arts-and-crafts workshop using recycled materials by MK Lia Shemtov (Israel Beiteinu).
In addition, there will be no votes on bills. Instead, there will be a celebratory meeting in the plenum.
Young children visiting the Knesset can enjoy storytelling hours with MK Michael Ben- Ari (National Union), who will read Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree in Hebrew and MK Ofir Akunis (Likud), who will read the Israeli classic Apartment for Rent by Leah Goldberg.
Older children may take a civics lesson with Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, and watch as high school students participate in debates moderated by MKs on topics such as the national anthem, with MK Eitan Cabel (Labor), and the merits and disadvantages of Facebook, with MK Ruhama Avraham-Balila (Kadima).
Tours of the Knesset will be given throughout the day in Hebrew, featuring actors dressed as former prime ministers David Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir and Menachem Begin, as well as first president, who presided over the first Provisional State Council meeting, Haim Weizmann.
There will also be tours of the Knesset Channel studios.
In honor of Tu B’Shvat, the biblical seven species of the Land of Israel will be presented outside of the Knesset. Nearby, Knesset security dogs will show off their skills.
Although the Knesset will be open to the public on February 8, anyone planning to visit is asked to contact the Knesset Visitors Center at [email protected] or 02-6753337 in advance for security reasons.