On September 21, KKL-JNF will announce the opening of the Hall of Books of Honor in a ceremony which will be held at the National Institutions House in Jerusalem. KKL-JNF's Books of Honor commemorate Jews from all over the world that contributions to the purchase of lands in Israel were made in their name during the past 120 years. Today, these books are a treasure of Jewish heritage and the study of Jewish people's lineage. Visitors to the hall will discover an important chapter in Zionist history, which, until now, remained relatively obscure.
KKL-JNF took upon itself an unprecedented project of scanning tens of thousands of pages of the Books of Honor using advanced technological equipment, and the volumes created will be revealed to the public in a dedicated hall, built for the purpose on the ground floor of the National Institutions House. The books will be open to the public in Israel and abroad, and people will be able to search and find their relatives' mentions in them. The books also contain the names and birthdays of Jewish children who perished in the holocaust, and in many cases, it is the only documentation of their fate.
The books commemorate both Jewish figures and world leaders, from the Zionist visionary Theodor Herzl to the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin to the presidents of Israel and the country's prime ministers, including David Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir and others.
Stalin, for example, was commemorated twice in the books: for the USSR's recognition of the State of Israel in 1948 and for his approval of selling Czechoslovakian weapons to Israel through KKL-JNF during the country's war of independence.
Sir Winston Churchill, the British prime minister who stood bravely against Nazi Germany and who was a friend to the Zionist movement was added to the Golden Book by the officers and soldiers of the Jewish Brigade in the British Army after the end of World War II, in gratitude of his support in the brigade's establishment.
Baptist minister and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dr. Martin Luther King was the admired leader of the civil rights movement who preached for a peaceful struggle until his assassination in Memphis, Tennessee in 1968. Many Jews have joined his struggle and supported him. He was added to the Golden Book by Jewish leader Hans Lam and a group of Israel's Friends in Germany a few months after his assassination.
Professor Albert Einstein, one of the greatest scientists in history, was a devoted Zionist. In celebration of his visit to Argentina in 1925, the Buenos Aires Jewish community has added him to the Golden Book. In celebration of his 50th birthday, in 1929, the Hadassah Women of Wayne, Indiana have added his name to the Golden Book.
KKL-JNF Chairman Avraham Duvdevani: "the KKL-JNF Books of Honor were the initiative of Yona Kremenezky, the first KKL-JNF Chairman, 120 years ago. One of the first contributions listed in the first Golden Book was by Binyamin Ze'ev Herzl. The books are used to this very day for the commemoration of public figures and the celebration of special events. The book covers were designed by artists, and writing within the books is done by calligraphy experts. We are happy to open the Hall of Books of Honor, which will present these special books using innovative technology and make history available to the public."
Ronnie Vinnikov, Head of Resource Development and External Affairs Division at KKL-JNF: "reading in the KKL-JNF Golden Books is like taking a fascinating journey through the history of the Jewish people. It is an enormous source of the names of the great contributors of the Jewish people. KKL-JNF considers everything related to the land of Israel sacred. Each addition to the golden book of a deed done for the State of Israel is written by an expert calligrapher. This tradition provides the additions to the Golden Books and the contributors to Israel their proper respect."
Elazar Hershkovitz, KKL-JNF’s Director of Special Contributor Projects and Books of Honor: "a special KKL-JNF project has opened in the National Institutions House, The Hall of Books of Honor, one of the most important projects that I have led as part of my work at KKL-JNF and certainly one of the most exciting! It is a splendid presentation of the KKL-JNF books of honor, a wonderful and valuable treasure, a testament of the 120-year effort in which many Jews took part. The Hall of Books of Honor delivers the moral, thematic, and practical message of KKL-JNF as the leading device to make the Zionist vision a reality."
For additional information about the KKL-JNF Books of Honor, click here.