If all goes as planned, sometime in the near future, motorists entering Israel’s capital from the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway will no longer be greeted by the somber sight of a graveyard to their right.
According to a report in the Hebrew daily Maariv on Thursday, the Jerusalem municipality is pushing a plan to place tall cypress trees and a large Jerusalem stone-coated concrete wall to hide the Har Hamenuchot cemetery in the Giuvat Shaul neighborhood from view.
The capital, whose claim to fame is its ancient beauty, has invested millions of dollars over the past several years to maintain and improve upon its physical appearance.
Sources within the Jerusalem municipality told Maariv that the plan had been approved by the city, which would soon issue a tender for a landscape architect to undertake the project.
“For as far back as I can remember, entering the city from Highway 1 has struck me as depressing because of the exposed cemetery,” said Meirav Cohen, the council-member behind Jerusalem’s latest beautification project. “People should feel that Jerusalem is surrounded by hills, not graves.”
Har Hamenuchot, which opened in 1951, is the largest cemetery in Jerusalem.
For the past 20 years, the dearth of burial plots in the cemetery has meant that the only available plots were along the northern and western slopes of the mountain, which are visible from the highway.
The new zoning plan will now allow for further expansion of the graveyard, while preserving its natural beauty and hiding it from the view of the highway. The plan will also improve and add to the paths in the cemetery and build a visitors’ parking lot.
“Jerusalem welcomes millions of tourists,” Cohen told Maariv. “I hope that… the first view that they have when they come to the city will be its unique beauty; not a constant reminder of death and bereavement.”