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Thursday, October 06, 2011

Photo of the Zionist flag at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair

From the St. Louis Jewish Light:

Most Jews are very familiar with the flag of Israel, which stands alongside the American Stars and Stripes at many synagogues, but few are familiar with its origins or with the startling fact that the first time the Zionist flag flew over a public building on an official occasion was at the 1904 World's Fair right here in St. Louis!

When the World's Fair (officially named the Louisiana Purchase Exposition) was being organized, Michael Stiffelman, a local Zionist leader, won the support of Jules Aubere, a non-Jewish newspaperman, to persuade the Fair's board of directors to approve a request to publicly fly the Zionist flag alongside those of other countries atop the Hall of Nations. According to the late Moses Joshua Slonim, a famous local Zionist leader in his book, "The Struggle for Zion's Rebirth," which was extensively quoted by the late Jewish historian, Dr. Walter Ehrlich in his definitive "Zion in the Valley," the flag snapped proudly in the breeze, alongside the Stars and Stripes of the USA, the British Union Jack and the French Tricolor.

A striking photograph of the Zionist flag fluttering above the Hall of Nations appeared in the 1926 anniversary edition of The Modern View, a local Jewish newspaper published in St. Louis from 1900 through 1944.

This really is a stunning photo.

The proto-Israeli flag was introduced and displayed on a balcony outside the Stadt Casino Musiksaal in Basel, Switzerland during the First Zionist Congress in 1897, but the 1904 World's Fair may indeed have been the first time it was officially flown at a non-Zionist event.