Festival stamps - 2001 (5762)Festival stamps - 2001 (5762)Festival stamps - 2001 (5762)

  • Issue: September 2001
  • Artist: Hayim Shtayer
  • Stamp Size: 40 mm x 25.7 mm
  • Plate no.: 448 - one phosphor bar
  • Plate no.: 449 - two phosphor bars
  • Plate no.: 450 - two phosphor bars
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: E. Lewin-Epstein ltd.
  • Method of printing: Offset

The first part of this stamp series, Festival Stamps (5761) 2000, was devoted to the period between 1898 and1918 when Jewish New Year cards flourished in Europe and the United States. The current set of Festival stamps is dedicated to Jewish New Year cards that were created in Israel during the first years of the State.

Every year hundreds of thousands of Jewish New Year cards are mailed
throughout the Jewish world. Contrary to a widely held opinion, the origin of this custom predates by centuries the Christian New Year cards, which have been so popular in Europe and the United States since the 19th century. In fact, already in the 14th century German rabbis recommended that letters sent during the month of Elul should open with the blessing "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year". The German rabbis based this practice on a familiar Talmudic dictum in tractate Rosh ha-Shanah 16b concerning the "setting down" of one's fate in one of the three Heavenly books that are opened on the Jewish New Year. The German-Jewish custom reached widespread popularity, however, only with the invention in Vienna in 1869 of the postal card. This invention was an immediate success and within a few years the plain cards were enriched by illustrations, which attracted the public to buy more and more cards, illustrated with beloved and familiar topics.

Even prior to the invention of the postal card, decorative pages of varying sizes with New Year wishes and images were in wide use by the "Old Yishuv" - Jews in 19th century Eretz Israel.-These greeting pages showed illustrations and photographs of the holy sites of the four holy cities in Eretz Israel, particularly in and around Jerusalem. These pages were commonly sent abroad for fundĀ­raising purposes. The images on the cards changed drastically with the waves of new immigrations (aliyot). The cards of the 20's and 30's highlighted the acquisition and toiling of the land and pictured new pioneers. In the years preceding the establishment of the state, the cards called for developing the country, expansion of its borders, open immigration and the ingathering of the exiles from all corners of the world.

The hardship of life in the transition camps and the strains of shortages during the fifties are reflected in many cards from these years which are illustrated with fruits and other foods and accompanied by the wish for "a year of abundance and plenty". This period also witnessed the very popular images of proud soldiers bravely guarding their young homeland. This tendency increased in the years following the Six Day War. The heroes of the war, political leaders and soldiers on the background of the liberated holy sites, filled the stalls that sold New Year cards in the Israeli streets. These images were replaced in the seventies with pictures of the "Ideal Israeli family", shown fashionably dressed in its bourgeois furnished apartment. The New Year cards vividly reflect the dramatic changes in the life of the Jewish people in the last generations.

Professor Shalom Sabar
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

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Festival stamps - 2001 (5762)