Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on the fourth anniversary of his previous government’s decision to establish a plan to strengthen national heritage infrastructures, received an updated report on the implementation of the plan. According to the report, work on several of the initiatives has already been completed, and they are open and accessible to the public. Other initiatives have gone from the planning stages to implementation and work is underway.
The plan, which is being administered in the Prime Minister’s Office by Reuven Pinsky, continues to operate in accordance with the various criteria that were set, including a ranking of sites and various initiatives in a variety of fields: Archaeology, culture, and structures and compounds for preservation. It is being administered in conjunction with the Society for the Preservation of Israel Heritage, the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.
National Heritage Plan Steering Committee Chairman Cabinet Secretary Avichai Mendelblit emphasized in a meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu that each of the initiatives that were approved and are in the planning and/or implementation stages expresses the two overall goals of the plan to strengthen heritage infrastructures: Preserving and saving national heritage infrastructures, and educating for national heritage values and integrating them into contemporary discourse.
Reuven Pinsky noted that as of now, approximately NIS 750 million has been invested in the project (approximately half in financing the heritage plan and approximately half in complementary financing), in approximately 300 initiatives from the Biblical period, the Second Temple, Mishnaic and Talmudic periods, the pre-state community, the first waves of immigration, the later waves of immigration and the early years of the state. The initiatives are spread throughout the length and breadth of the State of Israel, including in the Galilee, the Golan Heights, the Negev, the center of the country, Jerusalem, Samaria and Judea.
Among the initiatives on which work was completed in 2013 are the Nebi Yusha police building and the Camaraderie Museum, the reconstructed Children’s House at old kibbutz Gesher, the Kinneret Courtyard, the reconstructed railway station at Tzemach, the reconstructed Senior courtyard in Tiberias and the Gamla site.
In the center of the country, remains of the ancient village and synagogue at Um Al Amdan in Modi’in have been preserved. In the south, visitors centers have been built at Abraham’s Well in Be;er Sheva, at Be’erot Yitzhak in the western Negev and at Susiya.
These initiatives join those which were completed in 2012 including the upgraded Independence Hall in Tel Aviv, the reconstructed Yemin Moshe windmill in Jerusalem, the reconstruction of President Yitzhak Ben-Zvi’s hut in Jerusalem, work to improve the Tower of David Museum and work to upgrade the graves of former presidents at Mt. Herzl and Givat Shaul in Jerusalem.
Pinsky updated Prime Minister Netanyahu that the report shows that work is proceeding on the Israel Antiquities Authority mandatory-era archives (material is being scanned and uploaded to a special site) and on a plan to encourage educational activities for children near archaeological sites. Photographs of the state and the land are being gathered from private collections and uploaded to the Internet; approximately 20,000 photographs have been collected from four cities and the project is expanding to 14 other cities. Over 64,000 personal items from the Holocaust have been collected in the "Gathering the Fragments" project.
Great efforts are currently being invested in establishing an Israeli archives portal, a national sound archive and a Jewish arts archive, as well as in ecology projects.
Among the initiatives in advanced planning stages and those initiatives due to be completed this year are upgrading the Kinneret Cemetery, upgrading the Hamat Tiberias National Park, the development of ancient Yodfat, reconstructing wall paintings at the Adas Synagogue in Jerusalem, developing trails and preserving Tel Shilo, renovating David Ben-Gurion’s hut in Sde Boker, etc.
Pinsky said: "At this stage, the heritage plan includes approximately 300 initiatives, including 100 major initiatives and 46 ‘rescue initiatives’, as well as 150 smaller initiatives with budgets of NIS 50,000 each, such as installing a multimedia system at the pioneers’ courtyard at Kfar Giladi, renovating the Kfar Tavor museum, upgrading Bialik House in Tel Aviv and painting Ben-Gurion’s hut in Sde Boker."
Prime Minister Netanyahu said: "The heritage plan links Israelis with their roots. Each initiative presents fascinating aspects of the wonderful story of the Jewish People in its Land from the Biblical period, the Second Temple period, the Mishnaic and Talmudic eras, the Middle Ages, the rise of Zionism, the pre-state community, the earlier and later waves of immigration and independence, beginning with King David almost 3,000 years ago up to the declaration of the state 65 years ago. Our country may be small in size but has wide-ranging vistas and varied sites. I commend this project and invite everyone to visit the sites."