• Issue: February 2007
  • Designer: David Ben-Hador
  • Stamp Size: 30.8 mm x 40 mm
  • Plate no.: 672 (no phosphor bars) 673 (no phosphor bars)
    674 (no phosphor bars)
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: E. Lewin-Epstein Ltd.
  • Method of printing: offset

One of the aims of the Zionist movement, incorporated by all its streams, was the desire to change the poor physical image of the "ghetto'' Jew, a notion reflected in the expression ''muscular Judaism" coined by Max Nordau at the Second Zionist Congress (Basel, 1898). It was actualized, inter alia, with the establishment of national gymnastic and sports clubs (Maccabi, Hapoel and Betar) and the adoption of physical education programs in the Hebrew schools in pre-state Israel.

Physical Education in Schools

The primary goal of physical education (referred to in the past as "gymnastics") is to educate children and teenagers toward multi-faceted physical activity that is not limited to personal accomplishment or competition alone.

The first professional physical education teacher in the country was Abraham Zvi Goldschmidt, who taught this subject in Jerusalem, although the person considered the father of physical educations in the Hebrew schools was Zvi Nishri, who taught it during the early days of the "Herzliya" Hebrew High School in Tel-Aviv-Yafo. Physical education gradually attained status in the Hebrew schools in Eretz Yisrael and thereafter in the State of Israel. In the period before the establishment of the state it was intensified and utilized in schools as a means of pre-army training.

Ever since the establishment of the state, physical education has been a compulsory subject in the country's elementary and high schools, most of which have sports facilities and gyms. It is also offered as a major in matriculation examinations.

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The Wingate Institute for Physical Education and Sport

To fill the need to develop a culture of physical education, and to train physical education instructors, the cultural commission of the pre-state National Council decided in 1944 to establish a physical education training institute named after Major-General Orde Charles Wingate, that opened its gates at its current location in 1957. Today, the Wingate Institute incorporates various professional training bodies in the sports field, including the Nat Holman School for Coaches & Instructors, the Ribstein Center of Sports Medicine Science, the Sport-Gifted Center, and the Elite Sports Unit (the operating arm of the Israel Olympic Committee and in partnership with the Sport Authority responsible for the training of Olympics athletes). The Institute also houses on its campus the Zinman College for Physical Education and Sport – the central institution that trains physical education teachers. The College offers B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. programs in collaboration with Tel Aviv University.

The Wingate Institute marks its 50th year in 2007. Awarded the prestigious Israel Prize in 1989, it has developed important tests, such as the Wingate Anerobic test conducted universally. The Institute serves as a national training center for most branches of sports in Israel, and has produced medalists who have brought honor to the country.

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Sport-for-All originated with the Hapoel sports organization, which recognized the beneficial effects of encouraging mass sports activity and initiated events such as the cross-country Tabor race and the Lake Kinneret Swim. Today, several bodies support this type of activity, including the Association for Sport-for-All (founded by the Sports Centers), the local councils, the Community Center Council and various leisure resorts which have sport and physical fitness equipment, and the Nature Preservation Society. In recent years, hundreds of popular hikes, walks, races, orienteering events and swimming meets have been held. The increase in leisure time and the growing awareness of the need for physical activity for good health have given a renewed impetus to mass sports, with many Israelis engaging in physical activity on their own or in community centers and leisure sites.

Dr. Haim Kaufman
Historian Zinman College
Wingate Institute

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Physical Education and Sport in Israel