Wednesday, September 25, 2013

We are now in the home stretch of Jewish holidays, with Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah on Thursday (and, outside Israel on Friday.)

YNet Hebrew has a fascinating article showing the history of Simchat Torah flags in Israel. (These are cheap disposable flags mass produced and given to kids to wave during the celebrations in the synagogue.)  They note, for example, that while before Israel was reborn, Simchat Torah flags tended to emphasize the phrase "Rejoice and be happy on Simchat Torah," during the 1940s Israeli flags started emphasizing more the verse "From Zion shall go forth the Torah."

This flag has both, along with a tractor showing the reclamation of the Land:


This flag was created soon after the State of Israel was declared, showing both ancient Jewish holy places and more modern Israeli buildings on a backdrop that resembles the Israeli flag:



This flag from the 1950s apparently includes (according to the article)  an implicit reference to a famous rabbinic saying in Pirke Avot 5:20: "Yehuda ben Teima said: Be strong as a leopard, light as an eagle, swift as a stag, and mighty as a lion to do the will of your Father in Heaven." (I think that the "leopard" looks more like a gazelle, though.)


The article also shows how the flags reflected diversity - even during the 1950s, when Israel is now excoriated for how badly it treated its Jews from Arab countries, the flags showed both Ashkenaz and Edot HaMizrach kids, setting the stage for the next generation to get rid of earlier prejudice.


Have a great holiday, and I will return to blogging on Saturday night.

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