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Historical Background

Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 and up until 1992 the Supreme Court was located in a building in the Russian Compound owned by the Russian Church. Neither the building nor its location met the needs of the Supreme Court nor did they adequately reflect its institutional status. The Israeli Government decided at the end of the 1960s to construct a new building for the Supreme Court. In 1973, the Foundation Stone was laid for a building on Mount Scopus but the plans were abandoned as a result of the Yom Kippur War.

Rothschild Foundation's and Dorothy de Rothschild's Initiative to construct the new Supreme Court building

At the beginning of the 1980s – just prior to marking 100 years of support from the well-known generous benefactor, Baron Edmond de Rothschild, to the Jewish Community in Israel – the Rothschild Foundation (Yad Hanadiv) and Dorothy de Rothschild who headed it at that time, approached the Israeli Government and offered a donation for the construction of a new Supreme Court building, near the Knesset. In so doing Mrs. de Rothschild sought to fulfill the intention of her late husband, Lord James de Rothschild, the son of the great benefactor - who wished to contribute two important buildings to the young country: one being the Legislature and the second for the Supreme Court. Lord de Rothschild died in 1957, but under his will and through his generosity the Knesset complex was built and was inaugurated in 1966. As a result of the offer made by Mrs. de Rothschild and the Rothschild Foundation, and after consultations and discussions that took place within government, official approval was given for the donation of funding to build a new Supreme Court.

In 1986, the Rothschild Foundation organized an architectural competition for the design of the new building. This competition was held in two phases with 180 architectural firms from Israel and around the world participating. The winners of the competition were the architects the late Ram Karmi and his sister Ada Karmi-Melamede of Tel Aviv - Jaffa.

In 1988, Dorothy de Rothschild came and viewed the site designated for the Supreme Court. She died shortly afterwards.

Construction of the New Building

Intensive construction took place between 1989 and 1992. The President of the Supreme Court at the time, Justice Meir Shamgar, was very involved in what was going on and closely monitored developments on the ground with great interest.

The Supreme Court building was officially inaugurated on Tuesday, November 10, 1992.

Accessing the Supreme Court

There are several roads leading to the Supreme Court.

1. From the south, "the Knesset Passage", a direct path through the Rose Garden connecting the Knesset (the legislative authority) to the Supreme Court (the judicial authority).

2.  From the north, the bridge over Yitzhak Rabin Boulevard: connects the Supreme Court and the "Cinema City" Building.

3.  From the west the "Ma'alot Devorah" Promenade: a beautiful and stepped access path from Kaplan and Zussman Streets towards the entrance to the building situated in Sha'arei Mishpat Street.

4.  From the east, through Sacher Park.

Principles Guiding the Architecture and Design of the Building

Several guiding principles can be seen in the design of the building. The various motifs exist in contrast and in harmony.

• Interior and exterior: throughout the building there are many windows and apertures which implicitly define internal and external boundaries and express the connection and reciprocal relationship between the Court and society.
• Old versus new: a combination of modern architecture and architectural references from typical buildings of Jerusalem throughout the generations.
• Straight versus circular: the Supreme Court Building is linked to tradition, inspired by biblical metaphors and influenced by ideals of justice, truth, law, charity and mercy. The straight line reflects the concepts of law, justice and honesty, both visually and in form: "Righteous are you, O Lord, and right are your rules" (Psalms 119:137). The circle expresses the ideal of justice, both visually and in form: "leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake" (Psalms 23:3).