Trumpeldor Cemetery: The graveyard of Israel's most prominent figures

It’s been called a “graveyard that reads like a Who’s Who,” though it's namesake Joseph Trumpeldor isn't buried there.

Meir DizengoFf's grave (photo credit: MIRI COHEN)
Meir DizengoFf's grave
(photo credit: MIRI COHEN)
One might think that the Zionist hero Joseph Trumpeldor is buried in the Trumpeldor Cemetery at 19 Trumpeldor Street in Tel Aviv. But actually, he’s not.
Who is? Other greats of the Jewish people.
To name but a few: Meir Dizengoff, the first mayor of Tel Aviv (1861-1923); Ahad Ha’am, writer and Zionist leader (1856-1920); Moshe Sharett, Israel’s first foreign minister and second prime minister (1894-1965); Shimon Rokach, early leader of Jaffa’s Jewish community (1896-1959); Nahum Gutman, famed artist (1898-1980); Arik Einstein, popular singer (1939-2013); and Bernard Lewis, influential Middle East scholar (1916-2018). It’s been called a “graveyard that reads like a Who’s Who.”
The tombstones in this final resting place are not uniform. There are hundreds of words on the black granite tombstone of Moshe Sharett, but only two on the pink marble stone of Ahad Ha’am – just his name. Shoshana Damari’s signature song was “Kalaniyot” (“Anemones”), and the tombstone of the iconic singer is adorned with anemones. There is English writing on some gravestones and photo images on some headstones. What’s allowed in Tel Aviv may be banned elsewhere.
The founding of the cemetery is described in detail on the English website of the hevra kadisha (burial society).
“It happened in the year 5663 (1902). The cemetery in Jaffa was full to capacity. Purchasing land was not something to be easily done... an opportunity arose when a Jewish person died and the doctors suspected that he had died from the cholera epidemic. The government decreed that those who died from cholera could not be buried in the cemeteries within the city, but only outside the city limits. The lobbying of Shimon Rokach and one thousand francs resulted in a new cemetery for the Jewish Community of Jaffa. The earliest tombstone is on the grave of a woman named Nishka Brumberg-Meltzer, dated 12 Heshvan 5663 [November 12, 1902].”
The Trumpeldor Cemetery occupies approximately 12,000 square meters and is often called “The Old Cemetery,” since it was established seven years before the founding of Ahuzat Bayit, the first neighborhood of Tel Aviv. In addition to about 5,000 individual graves, there is an awe-inspiring memorial to the 47 Jewish victims of the 1921 Arab riots, located close to the entrance of the main gate, on the right side of the pathway.
The Waze app can guide you to a specific cemetery, and the newly developed Israeli app, Gravez, can help you navigate within the cemetery. For example, to find the grave of Chaim Nachman Bialik, the national poet, all you need to know is his father’s name – Yitzhak, the approximate year of his death – 1934, and the name of the cemetery where he’s buried – Trumpeldor. You enter the information (in Hebrew) and quickly learn the exact location: Azor 4, shura 16, makom 41.
Winter hours at the Trumpeldor Cemetery are: Sunday to Thursday, 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; summer: Sunday to Thursday, 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday and holiday eves throughout the year, 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. To reach the Tel Aviv hevra kadisha, call (03) 795-3600.