Happy 57th Birthday to the Knesset!

On the 14th of February, 1949 (Tu Bishvat 5709), the Constituent Assembly, which within two days became the first Knesset, held its first meeting in the Jewish Agency building in Jerusalem. At that first sitting, the President of the Provisional Council of State, Dr. Chaim Weizmann, stated in his opening address: „It is with a sense of honor and awe that I rise to open the Constituent Assembly of the State of Israel, the first Jewish assembly of our day, in Jerusalem, the eternal city. At this great moment in the history of our people, we give thanks and praise to the God of Israel by whose grace we have been privileged to see redemption, after generations of suffering and misery… Knesset members! I congratulate you on your first meeting. Remember that the eyes of the whole Jewish world are upon you, and that the yearning and prayers of past generations accompany you. May we all be worthy of this great moment and this immense responsibility…” (Translation from Lorch, N., Major Knesset Debates) Because that first convention of the Constituent Assembly occurred on Tu Bishvat, the Knesset celebrates its „birthday” on that day each year. The event is highlighted by the Knesset Members planting trees. This year, Tu Bishvat falls on Monday, February 1st, and on that day, the Knesset will also have its birthday celebration.

Knesset Locations February 14, 1949: The first meeting of the Constituent Assembly in Jewish Agency building, Jerusalem. March 8, 1949-December 14, 1949: The Knesset held its sittings in the Kessem Cinema in Tel Aviv. December 26, 1949-March 8, 1950: The Knesset returned to Jerusalem and convened in the Jewish Agency building. March 13, 1950: The Knesset moved to its temporary location („Froumine Building” on King George Street in Jerusalem) until the completion of the permanent location. 1957: Lord James De Rothschild sent a letter to Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion regarding his decision to donate money for the building of the permanent Knesset location. October 14, 1958: The laying of the cornerstone of the new Knesset building. August 31, 1966: The new Knesset building was dedicated during the governing of the sixth Knesset. 1981: It was decided to build a new wing in the Knesset building. The wing was built and then opened in 1992. 2006: Construction is still under way for the newest wing of the Knesset. This new wing was partially opened in the summer of 2005.