was built in 1908 by Lazar Slutzkin, an expatriate Russian/Australian Jew, in the new settlement of Rehovot in the then Turkish Palestine
WWI: In 1917 became headquarters of Lt. Gen. Sir Harry Chauvel of the victorious Australian and New Zealand Light Horse
remained the Slutzkin family home from 1918 -1945
was used as an observation post by Haganah during several Arab uprisings
prior to 1948 was used for local military training
from 1948 has functioned as the administration building of the De Shalit Educational Campus
Lazar and Rose Slutzkin, with Phyllis, Olga, David and Nahum, in 1905
Beit Slutzkin in 1926
The Story in Full
Lt. General Sir Harry Chauvel
1919 portrait by
James Peter Quinn
Early History and World War I
Moshe (Lazar) Slutzkin emigrated from Russia to Australia in 1893. He married Rose, a daughter of Phillip Blashki, and established a successful garment business in Flinders Lane, Melbourne. His aim was always to live in Eretz Israel; he built the house in Rehovot (then Turkish Palestine) in 1905 - 08 and the family of nine moved to live there in 1911.
In World War I, Lazar, Rose and the family, as British (Australian) subjects, were "enemy aliens" and evacuated to Alexandria 1914. There they took a house and played host to Australian troops including Brigadier (later General Sir) John Monash - described as "a cousin"- as well as visiting the wounded with care and support.
The British Army’s Sinai campaign of 1917 saw the great cavalry charge at Beersheba, by the Australian Light Horse, which became a turning-point in Zionist history, opening the way for the liberation of Palestine and eventually for the State of Israel. The house was the headquarters for Australian Lt. General Sir Harry Chauvel and his Desert Mounted Corps for much of the Palestine campaign.
After the Ottoman Empire's defeat in 1918, Lazar was invited to assist post-war relief in Palestine. Later, Chauvel returned with his wife to visit Lazar's family in Rehovot.
Lt. General Sir Harry Chauvel, in the grounds of
Beit Slutzkin, 1917
Lt. General Sir Harry Chauvel with the Desert Mounted Corps Headquarters Staff on the steps of Beit Slutzkin, 1917
Lazar, Rose and family returned to Rehovot. He was also a Talmud scholar and was extremely active in philanthropic areas, and has been so memorialised.
The house remained the centre of family life, and during the Arab uprisings in 1921, 1929, and 1936-39, was an observation post for Haganah.
At the outbreak of World War II, Lazar was in Manchester, where he remained. Rose was in Melbourne; she managed to return to Palestine in 1944, but in 1945 both passed away, not having seen each other since 1938.
Beit Slutzkin in 1937
Beit Slutzkin House was requisitioned by the State and later incorporated into the De Shalit Educational Campus, named for Prof. Amos De Shalit, a brilliant Israeli nuclear physicist and educator.
The De Shalit Educational Campus comprises a high school and two junior highs - a total of 2000 students - and is affiliated with the Weizmann Institute of Science. It offers broad educational and innovative programmes, particularly in Physics, has a radio station and combines experimental study with community involvement. Its “Young Historians” project won the President’s Award in 2016.
The school’s motto is “Preserving the Past and Welcoming the Future”.
Beit Slutzkin is the Administration Building of the campus. Its restoration will preserve the house and its pioneer legacy. (A 2001 renovation addressed the interior of the main hall, but the building as a whole - now 111 years old - requires further urgent attention.) The restored building will also function as the headquatrers of Rehovot's Green Corridor project, as well as housing a Visitor Centre and a permanent ANZAC memorial.
Interior of Beit Slutzkin today