Science and fun all in one

Visitors can enjoy leisure and learning in and around Rehovot.

weizmann house 88.298 (photo credit: )
weizmann house 88.298
(photo credit: )
Think of Rehovot, and you think of the Weizmann Institute of Science. Internationally acclaimed as one of the world's top-ranking multidisciplinary research institutions, it is named after Israel's first President, Haim Weizmann, a political visionary and brilliant scientist who established it in 1934 as the Daniel Sieff Research Institute. The institute was renamed in his honor on his 75th birthday. Even if science does not fascinate you, two sections of the campus are well worth visiting. One is Weizmann House, the private residence of the Weizmann family built in 1936 and described by its architect, Erich Mendelsohn, as "a modern house for a person standing on the edge of history." The large, impressive, aristocratic building boasts a swimming pool inside a columned courtyard and a circular stairwell among many other intriguing aspects that made it unique in its time. The interior decoration was undertaken by Weizmann's wife, Vera. All the furniture and objects in the house are original pieces mostly from England and France, many of them dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. There is also an impressive art collection of items either bought by the couple or received as gifts. The house is surrounded by beautifully laid out gardens. The Weizmanns are buried on the grounds of their home, which they bequeathed to the state after their death to be preserved as a heritage to Weizmann's life. The institute has also set up a fantastic science park, the Clore Garden of Science, which takes science out of the laboratory and provided interactive experiences for children (and adults). The founder of the institute's youth activities sections, Dr. Moshe Rishpon, instigated this delightful park. Scientists working at the institute continue to suggest ideas based on their ongoing research activities. Each of the park's courtyards is connected to a separate field of science: water and physics; the planetary sciences; waves; and communication. Topics that some children may never have the opportunity to explore can be seen and hopefully understood in the casual but carefully constructed surroundings. Making waves, both of sound and water; feeling reduced gravity while walking on the moon; whispering into a sound mirror; creating rainbows - all these can be tried and tested. Nearby, at Kibbutz Givat Brenner, is another dream stop for the kids. Beit Halomotai (House of My Dreams) is on many schools' list for the annual school trip, but that doesn't mean that the kids won't want to come again. They will have fun on the Tarzan slides, building with all sorts of materials, driving pedal cars, playing in the ball-pool, doing arts and crafts, having fun in the water and playing computer games, while parents enjoy the beautiful surroundings of the kibbutz. Another fun-filled kibbutz in this area is Hafetz Hayim. This religious kibbutz provides all the fun of a water-park - including a half-Olympic size pool, a huge wave pool and many varied slides for all ages (including some specially for babies) - while catering to the religious requirements of separate hours for men and women. The kibbutz also features an amusement park with a roller coaster, carousels and bumper cars, and a petting zoo where the children can get up close to some friendly animals. There is plenty of wide open space for games and picnics and the opportunity to stroll around the kibbutz.