We are happy to see you guiding at Ben-Gurion’s Desert Home, but we ask you to keep to certain rules and to listen to the instructions given to you by the people at the cashier.
We have a guide’s handbook especialy for you, you will find everything you need to be the best guide in Ben-Gurion’s Desert Home.
The guide’s notebook is available in PDF format by pressing the green ‘Button’ further down.
And also a PDF presntation of some of the Ben-Gurion’s Desert Home artifacts and information about these artifacts.
We also gathered FAQ’s about Ben-Gurion’s Desert Home, they will be very helpful in answering your guest’s question inside the home.
Ben-Gurion’s Desert Home is a national heritage site which belongs to the Ben-Gurion Heritage institute. The site provides a variety of activities suitable for children, adults, senior citizens, tourists, students and more.
The entire site is in English and Hebrew (eccept “The Old Man And The People”) and certain exhibitions are translated to Spanish, Russian and French.
a few rules when visiting Ben-Gurion’s Desert Home:
- Ask the students to leave their bags on the bus.
- Remind the visitors about behavior rules in the site: enter without chewing gums, do not touch, keep quiet, do not step on the plants, etc.
- Eating– you may request permission from Café Paula to eat at the café area. Eating on the paths, explanation areas and all around the museum site – is not allowed
- You will find at the entrance to the site big and clean restrooms. Use them before entering the site.
- Avoid long explanations inside the buildings.
- Guide at the designated places – explanation areas and around the contoured map which is located far from the paths. In most of the cases you will be interrupted by other groups if you guide on the paths.
- We are trying to take care of the grass. Please do not step on it.
- Please update us regarding to any change in time of arrival or number of participants. Advise at the cashier about your arrival and number of participants.
- In Ben-Gurion’s home you are allowed to take photos without flash (due to restoration reasons).
Agents are requested to book group visits in advance in our visiting form, and wait for out staff’s approval.
Almost everything. Among the things that are not original: The central air conditioning, the spotlights, the barrier ropes barring entrance to some areas in the rooms, the photographs which show the house as it was during ben Gurion’s lifetime (taken in 1966).
Is the ceiling original? No. It was replaced after collapsing. The ceiling looks exactly as the original did.
Are the clothes original? Yes, they have been preserved. On that subject, ben Gurion had quite a lot of clothes.
Are the curtains original? The curtains in the guest room were replicated because the originals were worn out.
Is the pain original? This is the original color (Paula chose it), but we do repaint the building every few years.
What else has been “tampered with?” The upholstery on the couch in the living room was replaced with fabric prepared according to the original color. The fabric of the armchairs in Paula’s bedroom was replaced to a color close to the original. An opening was created from the side to ben Gurion’s bedroom. All other objects underwent preservation processes and are sprayed each year to prevent damage from worms and other insects.
Ben Gurion slept 3-4 hours each night. He read and wrote for most of the night. The separate bedrooms granted Paula privacy when the house was full of people. Further, in those days sleeping in separate rooms was common and not unusual.
Ben Gurion hosted many guests, and as such needed a larger house, an extra bathroom, and a more private passageway for Paula between her bedroom and bathroom.
Desert conditions such as those at Sde Boker demand a closed porch due to sandstorms. When ben Gurion was alive there was only a screen; the windows were added later for better preservation.
Ben Gurion’s storage shed. Today it is an office for the site’s guides
When ben Gurion was alive it was a bathroom; today it is an electric cabinet and as such is locked.
Ben- Gurion was very interested in the bible. He knew it very well and he treated it as a historical document that tells the story of the Jewish people. He initiated the international bible contest.
No, he led a secular lifestyle. He grew up in a religious household and got a religious education- first he learned in a traditional ‘Heder’ and later moved to a ‘modern Heder’ that his father established.
Ben – Gurion was very interested in eastern culture. You can see that in the living room there are many souvenirs from the far East as well. He visited Burma and stayed in Buddhist monastery for a few days. Next to the showcase there a statue of the monastery he visited.
Ben – Gurion was very interested in Greek philosophy, and to read it in source language, he learned ancient Greek. The statues relate to his field of interest.
Ben – Gurion hung the picture of Gandhi himself. We don’t know why – we can only assume. Gandhi is a character that symbolizes power, strength, freedom, independence, rebellion, principles, ideology, modesty, exemplary personality, a vision in practice – without using violence. They also have a similar fate – they both fought for their people’s independence from the British rule. India got independence in 1947 and Israel in 1948.
The menorah really plays the “Hatikvah” it works as a music box. You can listen to it on Youtube.
The man in the picture is Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, Israel’s second president. The picture was a gift from a cop from Haifa, his name was Binyamin Ben-Zion.
He got the it from an American General called Omar Bradley. It was believed that Ben-Gurion got the globe in 1946. During the years the house was open for visits, thousands of excited visitors came to see it. Many of them were impressed by the globe, and it became customary to look for Israel on it. When found, many pointed at it, and over the years the writing of the word “Israel” was erased. When the site’s staff decided to fix the globe, a mistake has been made. Since it was assumed that Ben-Gurion got the globe in 1946 the writing was restored to “Palestine”, according to the name that was customary at that time. The mistake was made and forgotten about for a while until it was exposed by a discovery – countries that have been established after 1948 were found on the globe! In a search done by the museum’s staff a letter from 1951 was found, where Ben-Gurion thanked General Omar Bradley for the globe. The conservation specialist that treated the globe advised to leave the mistake, in case it would harm the globe even more, and so the writing stayed.
The Ben-Gurions had three children: Geula, Amos and Renana.
All three of them passed away and they all stayed out of politics. He had seven grandchildren, most of them are unknown. Yariv Ben-Eliezer, the oldest grandchild (Geula’s son), is a Phd in communication. Alon Ben-Gurion (Amos’ son) is a hotelier and lives in the USA.
Yes, the AC is from his time. For those who have doubts, you can clearly see it in the picture with S.Y. Agnon in the living room. Yehoshua Cohen, who was Ben-Gurion’s bodyguard, said that during the renovation in 1963 the house was armored, and the windows were raised for safety reasons. Ben-Gurion was a short man, and the air from the high windows went over him, and so the AC was installed. Before that Ben-Gurion refused to install an AC in his house.
It’s unclear where the koala bear came from. We assume one of the grandchildren left it there. It’s worth mentioning that even his stature, Ben-Gurion is still a grandfather, and one of his grandchildren forgot their toy in his house.
Elhanan Yishai had many different roles; he was the commander of the Nahal Brigade and the Gadna. He joined Ben-Gurion, as his personal assistant, in his first year in Sde Boker.
Paula, Ben-Gurion’s wife. The picture was hanged after she passed away in 1968.
Ben-Gurion reorganized the library, he asked for the statue of Moses to be placed on a higher shelf than the rest of the statues and on the eastern wall (towards Jerusalem). The picture was taken prior to this arrangement, in 1966.
To expand: the statue of Moses in the library is a small model of Michelangelo’s statue that is housed in the church of San Pietro in Vincoli in Rome and is a bit larger than a human sized body. The statue has horns because it was based off the verse ” And whenever the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone” (Exodus 34:35). Michelangelo used the description from the Latin Vulgate translation, where the description of Moses’ face was mistakenly translated as “horned”.
Ben-Gurion became acquainted with the Feldenkrais Method. As a part of the method Ben-Gurion learned how to stand on his head, with the recommendation of Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, he was hoping to fix his blood flow issues and back pains.
This is a picture of Nehemiah Argov, who was Ben-Gurion’s military secretary.
Ben-Gurion appreciated Nehemiah Argov and loved him very much. In 1957 a young man called Moshe Dwek threw a hand grenade in the Knesset.