Yad Kennedy (“Kennedy’s Memorial” in Hebrew) is one of the special spots just outside Jerusalem in the Jerusalem Forest. It is dedicated to the memory of the 35th US President, John F. Kennedy.
Yad Kennedy is a somewhat large building on top of one of the highest hilltops in the area commanding superb views. The memorial represents a tree cut off in its prime, with the emblems of the US states on each of the supports.
A brief history of Yad Kennedy
In 1964, Max Bressler, who was serving as president of the American Jewish National Fund at the time, came up with a proposal of erecting a memorial for Kennedy, who was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963.
On January 14, 1964, George M. Leader, then-governor of Pennsylvania, announced plans for the memorial, stating that he would also serve as the General Chair of a State Committee to raise funds.
On the following November 22 — the first anniversary of the assassination — the Jewish National Fund sponsored each and every meeting in major Jewish communities in the United States. In addition of pledging to fund for the construction of the memorial, these communities also donated funds for the planting of trees in the forest. That forest, by the way, received an official dedication on that same date and was named the Kennedy Peace Forest.
Construction began in 1965 and ended in 1966. The memorial was designed by Brazilian-born Israeli architect David Resnick, and the Ukrainian-born Israeli sculptor Dov Feigin. The memorial’s unveiling and dedication took place on July 4, 1966. Bressler had hoped to lead an American delegation to the opening and dedication ceremony. Sadly, he died just before the memorial was unveiled.
About 2,000 people attended and witnessed the dedication ceremony, including several official guests who represented US and Israeli governments, hundreds of tourists, American students, and Israelis. Levi Eshkol, the third prime minister of Israel, was also among those attending the ceremony.
Shaped somewhat like a stump of a felled tree, the design of this 60-foot memorial is deeply symbolic in many ways (including allusions to the assassination).
The views from Yad Kennedy
The Yad Kennedy building itself is not generally open to the public, but many visit just to enjoy the fresh air and the unrivaled views of the district. There are many nature trails along the hill side. Enjoy the views at the top, but even if you don’t plan to walk down the hill take a minute or two to follow the road one level down (as it winds down the mountain) we think that the views a little lower down are actually better.
Aside from Yad Kennedy, the Kennedy Peace Forest also has picnic grounds.
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Getting to Yad Kennedy
Yad Kennedy is at the end of Route 3877 after passing through Moshav Ora & Moshav Aminadav in the general vicinity of Hadassah Hospital & the village of Ein Kerem. The building is wheelchair-accessible from the car park.