P. 218

In 1953, when the Chief Sephardi Rabbi, the Rishon L'Tzion Ben-Zion Meir Hai Uziel, passed away, his coffin was not taken to the National Institutions courtyard but the flag was lowered to half-mast for the entire day of the funeral.
In 1962, the Minister of Housing and Development Giora Yoseftal, who had been the Head of the Absorption Department of the Jewish Agency in the early days of the state, died suddenly in Switzerland. Yoseftal and his department's personnel were responsible for the absorption of about 700 thousand new Olim over a period of three and a half years (1948-1951). Even though Yoseftal had been a government minister in 1962, the Jewish Agency still recalled his achievements during the Aliya days and even before that, in bringing German Jews to the Land of Israel during the Nazi period before World War II. It was therefore determined that his coffin, which was flown to Israel, would be placed in the courtyard of the National Institutions Building before being sent to Kibbutz Gal'ed in which he was a member.
Members of government, members of the Executive of the Jewish Agency, the Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Nissim, the State Comptroller Mr. Yitzhak Ernst Nebenzahl and many people from Jerusalem and from settlements throughout Israel paid their respects to the deceased. Minister of Finance Levi Eshkol eulogized him on behalf of the government. Speaker of the Knesset Kadish Luz said that upon hearing the bitter news of Yoseftal's sudden death, he felt as if a soldier had died on the field of battle – the battle for absorption, the battle for the character of Israeli society.
In the summer of 1965, the last big funeral ceremony apparently was held in the square. The man being honored was the Chairman of the Zionist Executive Moshe Sharett, who had been a "resident" of the building for many years – first as the Head of the Political Department of the Jewish Agency ("the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the nascent state") in the years 1933-1948, then as Prime Minister in the years 1954-1955 (the Prime Minister's office was located in the rear wing of the National Institutions Building) and finally and for the third time in the Sixties, when he was Chairman of the Jewish Agency and the Zionist Executive.
The coffin was brought to the courtyard in front of the National Institutions Building on Thursday July 8, 1965, and thousands passed before it until noon on Friday. The funeral ceremony was conducted on Friday morning in the presence of President Zalman Shazar, Chief Rabbi of the IDF Major-General Shlomo Goren, members of the Agency Executive and family. The coffin was borne from there by veterans of the Jewish Brigade in World War II, Sharett being one of its creators, to Frumin House, which housed the Knesset then, and was driven afterwards to Tel Aviv. Sharett was buried in the old city cemetery on Trumpeldor Street.
Over the years, it became clear that the National Institutions courtyard is not large enough to contain all the participants in particularly large-scale events, including funerals, and as time went by, mourning ceremonies with large crowds were no longer held there. A good example of this is the funeral procession of Pinchas Sapir in 1975. Sapir, who served as Chairman of the Jewish Agency and the Zionist Executive in his final position, died suddenly during a tour he conducted in

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