• Issue: December 2006
  • Designer: Moshe Pereg
  • Stamp Size: 30.8 mm x 40 mm
  • Plate no.: 661 (no phosphor bar)
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: E. Lewin-Epstein Ltd.
  • Method of printing: offset

Esperanto is a constructed language, one of some 500 experiments over the past 300 years to create a relatively easyto-learn language, which would serve as a means of international communication. Only a few of these experiments were actually launched, and only Esperanto is alive and thriving to this day.

Esperanto is a neutral language, in that it does not belong to any population group or state; its script is Latin and the relationship between each letter and its pronunciation is explicit; its grammar contains only essential rules, with no exceptions; its vocabulary is based on a relatively small number of roots, taken from Latin and from the main European languages, and the words are constructed by adding approximately 50 defined prefixes and suffixes. The estimated number of its speakers ranges from hundreds of thousands to several millions, including several thousands who speak it from birth. Esperanto, as the ethnic languages, is used in every area of life, including on the Internet.

The creator of the language, Dr. Lazarus Ludwig Zamenhof, was born on December 15, 1859, in Bialystok, Poland, then part of the Russian Empire. His father was a language teacher, and he himself learned about a dozen languages. While studying ophthalmology in Warsaw, Zamenhof founded the "Hibbat-Zion" ("Love of Zion") student association. In 1887, after completing the studies, he published a modest booklet titled "An International Language", under the pseudonym "Doktoro Esperanto" ("The Doctor Who Hopes"), from which the name of the new language derives. Throughout his life, Zamenhof (d. April 14, 1917) wrote poetry and articles in Esperanto, translating the entire Old Testament as well as some of the world's greatest literary works. Many writers followed him, enriching Esperanto culture with valuable works. Many of these works were translated into national languages, while works from national cultures were translated into Esperanto.

Many of the world's luminaries during that period and thereafter (for example Albert Einstein and Lev Tolstoy) expressed their admiration for Esperanto and supported it. However, quite a few were its enemies, including Hitler and Stalin, who murdered and imprisoned a significant number of Esperantists in the areas under their control. Shortly after the language was made public, various types of Esperanto organizations were founded in many cities throughout the world. An umbrella organization of these national and professional organizations is the World Esperanto Association, founded in 1908 and based now in Rotterdam, Holland. The first world conference of Esperanto took place in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France, in 1905, and ever since, a week-long conference is held every summer in a different city throughout the world, with wide international representation (in 2000 the conference took place in Tel-Aviv). At these conferences Esperanto allows the thousands of participants to experience a sense of brotherhood that transcends boundaries and embraces the world.

Jehoshua Tilleman
Chief Representative of the World Esperanto Association
Deputy Chairman of the Israeli Association

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120 Years Of Esperanto