Ben-Gurion's Desert Home at Kibbutz Sde Boker


                                                                                          Visiting Hours:


      Sundays to Thursdays          08:30 - 16:00      

Fridays and Holiday Eves:     08:30 - 14:00

Arrival – about an hour before closing time



Kibbuts Sede Boker 84993, Telefax: 08-6560320 Tel:  08-6560469

A new historical movie – relating the life of David Ben-Gurion and his relation to the Negev. The movie was created using innovative animation techniques.  English translation (and dubbing).  Open until 15:00

Paula and David Ben-Gurion's desert home remains exactly as Ben-Gurion left it when he passed away in 1973. This was his wish as left in his will. The area surrounding the home, however, has altered considerably. The garden landscape has been expanded and is carefully maintained; pathways have been paved for visitors' comfort; maxims from Ben-Gurion's philosophy, and blown-up photographs from the early years of Sede Boker decorate the walkways; and shady, half-enclosed stone bleachers were constructed for visiting study groups.



Adjacent to Ben-Gurion's house, another wood home, formerly the guards' quarters, now houses an exhibition highlighting Ben-Gurion's diverse, unique feelings for the Negev.


The Exhibition:

"The Negev is the cradle of our nation, dangerously vulnerable and dazzlingly prospective." 

  From: David Ben-Gurion, 'The Significance of the Negev'


The exhibition illustrates the character of a singular leader who lived by the words, "Practice what you Preach," a leader who defined the horizon as the limit for human and national achievement.


Three Main Displays at the Exhibition

Central Wall: BIOGRAPHY

Here the visitor finds a chronological description of Ben-Gurion's life underscoring the continuous theme of national revival by a man who strove ceaselessly to realize his dream. One can trace Ben-Gurion's early years in the Russian town of Plonsk; his aliya [immigration] as a pioneer to the Land of Israel (1906); his leading role in the Labor Movement (1921); his rise to Zionist leadership (1935); and his role as head of the political and military struggle for the establishment of the Jewish state. On May 14, 1948,

Ben-Gurion announced the establishment of the State of Israel; issued the order to create the Israeli Defense Force (IDF), and was elected Israel's first Prime Minister and Defense Minister. During his first four years in office, the population doubled, the country's basic infrastructure was set up, and the machinery of modern state government was created. Throughout the exhibition, personal items are on display, such as the tarboosh

 Ben-Gurion wore when he studied law in Turkey; the will he wrote upon enlisting in the British army; a recording of the moment he declared independence; and his signed document creating the IDF.        


 Outside Wall on Visitor's Left Side: STRONG TIES TO THE NEGEV

Ben-Gurion was deeply aware of the economic and settlement potential of the Negev, its demographic and strategic importance, and its vital contribution to the development and prosperity of the State of Israel.


His awareness of the Negev's priority on the national agenda prompted him to co-author, with his colleague Yitzhak Ben-Zvi  (later to become Israel's second President), a book entitled The Land of Israel (1917). In 1935, during a visit to Akaba (Jordanian port opposite Eilat), Ben-Gurion declared that the Negev must be included within the territory of the future state. On the eve of the War of Independence, he ordered eleven new settlements to be established in the Western Negev; and during the war itself he placed conquest of the Negev as a top strategic goal.


Ben-Gurion always linked his idealistic slogans to operational accomplishments; beliefs and their realization always went hand-in-hand. Thus, when the 67 year-old statesman resigned from office of Prime Minister in 1953, he settled in the Negev, determined to become an agricultural worker. He envisioned the Biblical dream of reclaiming the desert wasteland, and at the same time hoped to answer the national challenge of absorbing the huge influx of immigrants and dispersing the population throughout the country. Thus, for Ben-Gurion, the Negev became an issue of "Renew our days as of old" in both the personal and national sense.


"kindly I remember the favor of thy youth, the love of thine wedding, how thou followed me in the desert, in the unsown land."-  with these words he dedicated the book Vision and Way to his wife Paula, as an expression of his deepest admiration for her willingness to join him as a member of Kibbutz Sde Boker. (The settlement had been founded only one year before in 1952.)


In 1955 Ben-Gurion responded to the call of his colleagues to government, first as Defense Minister, and then as Prime Minister. Yet, he kept his membership in the kibbutz and endeavored to remain involved in the commune's life. Thus, for example, he would make an effort to spend the annual Passover holiday on the kibbutz. When he left government again in 1963, the former Prime Minister returned to his kibbutz and dwelt there for the last decade of his life, until the day of his death in 1973.


The exhibition reveals the character of a private individual as husband and father; the life-style of his home; his wide-spread correspondence with citizens of the state and world Jewry. His replies to children who wrote to him are exceptionally moving, radiating simplicity and integrity, sincerity and seriousness, without a trace of officialdom. 






Despite the growing congestion in other regions of the country, the greater part of the Negev remains unsettled. The relevancy of Ben-Gurion's vision has not waned over the years, and still awaits its realization. Throughout the exhibition there are displays of Ben-Gurion's official documents, letters, and personal items; video clips, and n interactive computer data-base.







Ben-Gurion's Desert home

Paula and David Ben-Gurion's home at Kibbutz Sede Boker illustrates, first and foremost, the life-style of a man whose personal example symbolized the genius of leadership. Ben-Gurion and his wife moved into their desert home in 1953. During his twenty-year residence there, the house was enlarged to meet the needs of his work and the reception of the couple's numerous guests. The home stands in its original format dating back to the 1960s (excluding minor renovations such as the railing-guide along the rooms). Its structure and furniture exude modesty, physical simplicity, and frugality.


Decorating the house are many of the gifts that Ben-Gurion received from individuals and organizations. The items reflect subjects close to his heart: a picture of both the state's official symbol and a portrait of his colleague Yitzhak Ben-Zvi; a copy of the Declaration of Independence -  gift from another Prime Minister, Golda Meir; a menorah (ritual candle holder) that plays the national anthem Hatikva (The Hope); and a large wall-map of Israel.


In the center of the house is Ben-Gurion's study containing a library of 5,000 books that reflect his various fields of interest: Judaism and Bible, philosophy, history and geography, military and defense. In this room he penned many of the books and articles dealing with his official activity. Seated at his desk, he wrote his memoirs, especially mindful of the generation of youth growing up in the State of Israel.


Specific objects, pictures and statues that Ben-Gurion chose to put up in the house are of special interest for they held a personal meaning for him: Moses -  the leader of the Hebrew nation, who led his people from slavery to freedom; Abraham Lincoln -  the emancipator; Mahatma Gandhi -  who brought India to national independence while preaching non-violence; Plato -  the Greek philosopher; Berl Katznelson -  his confidant and close friend in the Labor Movement. All these express his world outlook that combined national values with universal ones.





David Ben-Gurion was born in the town of Plonsk in Poland (Czarist Russia) on October 16, 1886. Paula Ben-Gurion was born in the Russian city of Minsk in April 1892.


1906 - immigrated to the Land of Israel, and began working as a farm hand on the early Hebrew settlements.

1912 -  studied law in Turkey with the intention of being elected to the Turkish parliament as representative of the Hebrew settlements in the Land of Israel.

1915 -  expelled from the Land of Israel by order of the Ottoman Government; sailed for the United States where he became active in the Zionist "Hehalutz" organization.

1918 -  enlisted in the Jewish Legion annexed to the British Army.

1919 -  returned to the Land of Israel with the Jewish Legion.

1921 -  elected Secretary of the Histadrut (Jewish Labor Federation).

1935 -  elected Chairman of the Jewish Agency.

May 14, 1948 -  announced the establishment of the State of Israel.

1949 -  elected the State of Israel's first Prime Minister and Defense Minister.

1953 -  resigned from office and became a member of Kibbutz Sede Boker.

1955 -  called back to office as Defense Minister and later as Prime Minister.

1963 -  resigned from office and returned to live on Kibbutz Sede Boker.

December 1, 1973 -  died, and was buried at the Sede Boker Campus.







צריף בן-גוריון | קיבוץ שדה-בוקר 84993 | טלפון: 08-6560469 | פקס: 08-6560320 | zrif.bg@gmail.com