Mount of Olives cemetery

A visit to one of the oldest and most important cemeteries in the world – Mount of Olives Cemetery, the closest cemetery to the Temple Mount.
Mount of Olives Cemetery, Jerusalem

Most important Jewish cemetery in the world

As it is believed that those who are buried in the Mount of Olives Cemetery are the first who will be resurrected, a visit to this cemetery is as fascinating as it gets. With numerous important religious and political figures who are buried here, and so many captivating stories, touring the Mount of Olives Cemetery is an incredible experience to remember.

The Mount of Olives Cemetery, located on the slopes of the Mount of Olives, right above the old city of Jerusalem, is considered to be the most important Jewish cemetery in the world, and one of the most fascinating historical sites you can visit. Here is all of the important information about this incredible historical site.

The Story of Mount of Olives Cemetery

The oldest Jewish cemetery in the world is on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, where already thousands of years Jewish people have desired to be buried, in order to be as close as possible to the Temple forever.

The desire to be buried on the Mount of Olives stemmed, from many different reasons, as several different sources associated mystical benefits with the burial here. According to the Midrash, the first resurrection of the dead will take place on the Mount of Olives, and the Jews who are buried there will be the first to rise from the grave and gain eternal life. For this reason, people have been buried here ever since the first temple period, over 2,500 years ago.

The burial here was minimal from the 1st-10th centuries, and The renewal of Jewish burial in the Mount of Olives Cemetery, and the beginning of the cemetery as it is known today, apparently began during the Mamluk period, during which the Jewish settlement in Jerusalem multiplied and the cemetery grew and spread. During the Ottoman period, numerous Jewish people from all over the world have been buried here. Today, it is assumed that about 70,000-100,000 people are buried here.

Important graves in Mount of Olives Cemetery

Menachem Begin

Menachem Begin was the sixth prime minister of Israel and one of the most influential politicians in the country. Begin had been the head of the Etzel, and thought the British for the independence of Israel. Most of all, he is known for the historical peace treaty he made with Egypt in 1978, for which he won a Nobel prize.

Begin famously asked to be modestly buried here, and not in the Great Leaders of the Nation’s Plot in Mount Herzl, where most prime ministers are buried. Begin, who was the head of the Etzel in the 1940s, asked to be buried next to the two gallows immigrants and fighters of the Eztel and Lehi, Meir Feinstein and Moshe Barzani, who were sentenced to death in a prison in Jerusalem during the British Mandate days and took their own lives by placing a grenade between their hearts.

Henrietta Szold

Henrietta Sold (1860-1945) was an American Zionist leader, writer, educator, and social worker. she’s one of the founders of Hadassah – the Zionist Women’s Organization in the United States. Szold Immigrated to Israel in 1920, and was the architect of the infrastructure for the public medical system and the nursing and welfare services in Israel. From 1933 she was the head of the Youth “Aliya” organization, which dealt with the rescue and education of Jewish children and youth who fled to Israel on their own.

Eliezer Ben-Yehuda

Eliezer Ben-Yehuda was a pioneer of Hebrew speech and a researcher of the Hebrew language. He initiated the process of the complete return of the Jewish people to Hebrew speaking and is known as the reviver of the Hebrew language. Ben-Yehuda worked to spread his ideas through his newspapers, founded the Hebrew Language Committee, and compiled his large dictionary of Hebrew, in which he invented numerous new Hebrew words.

How to visit the Mount of Olives Cemetery

It is highly recommended to visit the cemetery with a guided tour, which will give you a chance to hear some of the incredible stories of the cemetery and learn about the fascinating people who are buried here. Otherwise, it is also possible to walk here freely and see the impressive site on your own.

If one of your relatives is buried here, and you wish to find the grave, the Mount of Olives information center can provide you with an escort service to the grave.

Opening hours

Open at all times. The visitor center is open on Sunday-Thursday from 9:00-17:00

Parking and transportation

There are various parking spaces near most of the sites on Mount of Olives. From here, you can explore the site on foot.

Accessibility arrangements

  • Most of the cemetery is not wheelchair-accessible.

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