P. 86

building. Ussishkin thanked the many guests, including those pilgrims who came to Jerusalem for the Passover holiday. In addition, he thanked the "Phoenix" Company for extending the loan to KKL-JNF and the architect Ratner for his beautiful plan.
The location – the speaker added – is truly excellent: At the center of town, surrounded by Jewish neighborhoods, and particularly the Rehavia Neighborhood (that Ussishkin was a resident of). Additional Jewish institutions would be established in its vicinity and the building would undoubtedly be magnificent.
As was acceptable in those days, such an event required the participation of many speakers. Ussishkin informed those present that a total of 12 speakers would be making speeches, one for each tribe of Israel. The audience, as it turned out, accepted this with equanimity and everyone understood it would be a lengthy event.
Ussishkin read the Founding Declaration of the KKL-JNF building, the first of the structures that would eventually constitute the "National Institutions Building":
On this sixteenth day of the month of Nissan, first day of Chol HaMoed Passover, it being the festival of freedom and redemption, in the year five thousand, six hundred and ninety-eight to the creation of the world, the one thousandth, eight hundredth and ninety-fourth year since the destruction of our temple, the thirty-second year to the first Zionist Assembly in Basel and eleventh year to the Balfour Declaration, we laid the cornerstone of the building of the KKL-JNF in Jerusalem, a wing of the buildings of the World Zionist Organization in Jerusalem: The Zionist Executive, the KKL-JNF and Keren Hayesod, which shall be built on land of the KKL-JNF in the Rehavia Neighborhood, on the corner of King George Street and Shmu'el HaNagid Street [which was later renamed HaKeren HaKayemet Le-Israel Street]. With the help of the Rock of Israel, this house shall be a great institution to the lofty credit of the KKL-JNF and a source of blessing for the revival of the nation and redemption of the land.
One by one, the other greeters and speakers followed Ussishkin, including Colonel Frederick Kisch speaking on behalf of the Zionist Executive, Ya'akov Tahon on behalf of the Jewish National Council, Leib Yaffe brought the blessing of the sister fund and future partner in the building – Keren Hayesod, while Felix Warburg brought the statement of the Joint, which announced to those gathered that the establishment of the Jewish Agency was approaching. A blessing from overseas was brought by Louis Lipsky, who offered blessings on behalf of the Zionist Organization of America. There were also blessing on behalf of Zionists of Canada, the Council of the Jerusalem Jews, the Hebrew University and the settlements that were established on KKL-JNF lands.
All of the greeters were invited to sign the Founding Declaration on behalf of their senders, with Ussishkin signing last. The artistic plan included a chapter of cantillation sung by the famed cantor, Zalman Quartin. As attested to later by the participants, he sang "Even Ma'asu HaBonim"

   84   85   86   87   88