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April 30, 1982 - Image 72

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1982-04-30

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72 Friday, April 30, 1982

Israel's Flag: The Battle Over the Birth of a Banner


World Zionist Press Service

Jerusalem's Western Wall,
the kibutz and the Jaffa
orange are all symbols of Is-
Any such list is incom-
plete, however, without the
Magen David or Shield of
David, which through its
appearance on the Israeli
flag has come to represent
Jewish people throughout
the world.
Although today the Is-
raeli flag's bold blue Magen
David is identified with
both Israel and Diaspora
Jews, the shield became a
popular symbol as far back
as the mid-17th Century. At
that time the leaders of
Jewish communities in
Prague and Vienna offi-
cially adopted the shield
and its usage quickly
spread. The family arms of
the aristocratic Jewish
families Rothschild and
Montefiore also included
the Magen David.
At the end of the last
century, the Hibbat Zion
movement, an early
Zionist group, used for its
flag a white rectangle. In
its center was a shield of
David, composed of
stripes forming two
triangles. Two horizontal
stripes ran along the
flag's length, based on a
design by David
Wolfsohn, who had been
inspired by the talit
(prayer shawl).
A flag of this design was
raised to celebrate the third
anniversary of Rishon LeZ-
ion in 1885. Before it was
officially adopted by Israel,
this flag was also hoisted at
Eilat on the Red Sea during
the bloodless climax of the
War of Independence on
March 10, 1949.

Blue and white, the colors
of today's Israeli flag also
played a part in the Hibbat
Zion banner. As they saw it,
blue represented the sky of
Israel and white the snow of
the Diaspora.
For Jewish writer Ludwig
August Frankl, blue and
white were also significant,
but for different reasons. In
his poem of 1864, "Zivei
Erez Yehuda," 85 years be-
fore Israel's statehood and
the affirmation of its flag,
Frankl says:
All that is sacred will appear
in these colors.
White — as the radiance of
great faith
Blue — like the appearance
of firmament.
Theodor Herzl, though
unaware of the Hibbat Zion
flag and Frankl's poem,
envisioned his own banner
for the Jewish state. In his
diary on June 12, 1895,
Herzl wrote, "The flag that I
am thinking of perhaps is a
white flag with seven gold
stars. The white back-
ground stands for our new
and pure life, the seven
stars are the seven working
hours we shall enter the
promised land in the sign of
One year later Herzl
wrote "The Jewish State,"
in which he proposed the
same flag. Later he incorpo-
rated the Magen David into
his planned flag by placing
the six stars on the six ang-
les of the shield of David and
the seventh above it.
About 50 years later, in
1948, when Herzl's dream
was realized and Israel was
established, a committee
tried to use his ideas in the
design of a Knesset emblem.
The all-volunteer commit-
tee, chaired by the minister
of transportation and com-
prised of artists Reuven

Rubin and Arye El-Hanani
and archeologist Eliezer
Sukenik (father of Yigael
Yadin), developed several
options for the emblem, in-
cluding a menora sur-
rounded by seven stars, a
menora surrounded by
seven shofars and a combi-
nation of shofars and etrogs.
However inspired,
these ideas were turned
down by the Knesset in
May 1949, in favor of a
menora borrowed from
Rome's Arch of Titus.
According to Arye El-
Hanani, several Knesset
members found the seven
stars offensive, and they
suggested the use of a
different symbol. Reject-
ing the stars, the Knesset
decided to surround the
the menora with the more
traditional laurel leaves,
a design El-Hanani called
El-Hanani's disappoint-
ment with the Knesset did
not end with the emblem
decision but extended to the
body's ruling on a new flag.
Prime Minister David
Ben-Gurion proposed that
the committee also design a
flag for a new Jewish state.
The committee's task was to

combine old and new
themes, apparently no sim-
ple task.
"We literally closed our-
selves into a room for a
month and worked night
and day," says El-Hanani.
"None of us were paid, but
we felt proud of our work
and that we had done some-
thing for our country." Ac-
cording to El-Hanani, the
committee dragged onto the
Knesset floor over 100
pounds of material, includ-
ing large prepared flags and
flag poles of bronze and
suggested flag was similar
to that of the Zionist move-
ment except that the new
Magen David was filled in
with either blue or gold
rather than being composed
only of lines. "The open
Magen David is not really a
shield, just a geometrical
figure," says El-Hanani.
Despite this explana-
tion the Knesset was
skeptical and the Zionist
flag was declared on Oct.
28, 1949, as Israel's offi-
cial banner. "Our father
and grandfathers used
the old flag so why do we
need something new?"

argued conservatively-
inclined Knesset mem-
bers. El-Hanani was crit-
ical of their judgment,
claiming many were from
the shtetl with little edu-
cation in visual arts or
aesthetic sense.
Frustration finally drove
both El-Hanani and painter
Reuven Rubin to resign
from the committee. The
former, now an established
architect, helped plan
numerous buildings includ-
ing Jerusalem's president-
ial residence and Yad Vas-
One man who has no
complaints regarding the
Israel in 1934 and in
rman, owner of Carmen Be-
rman Industries, one of the
world's largest flag-making
operations. Berman, prob-
ably more well-known for
fathering quintuplets than
producing flags, took over
the business 10 years ago,
after his father, Carmen's,
A Polish embroiderer of
religious objects, Carmen
Berman immigrated to
Isarel in 1934 and in
Jerusalem opened a flag-
making shop one year later.
Berman, who made the first
official Israeli flag, is said to
have worked all through the
War of Independence, while
shooting raged outside.
Only when a bomb fell on
the roof, damaging the shop,
did Berman take a break.
Today, Carmen Be-
rman Industries pro-
duces flags for 156 coun-
tries, including some hos-
tile to Israel. It works for
the Israeli government,
the Israeli military,
municipalities, clubs and
El Al airlines. In fact, Is-
rael's first export to
. Egypt in November 1977
was a Berman flag.

Exciting as well as lucra-
tive, the business keeps Yit-
zhak Berman on top of re-
cent events. "We know of of-
ficial visits even before the
newspapers," says the
flagmaker, adding that
inquiring reporters kept his
phone lines busy before the
first visit of Egyptian
President Anwar Sadat in
Even in the face of
minimum 12-hour work-
days, business trips that
take Berman from h:
adored quintuplets, now
years old, two toddlers and
wife/assistant, Hadassah,
the flagmaker would have it
no other way. "This is the
most beautiful profession,"
says Berman, "and we al-
ways know exactly who is
coming and going and what
is starting and ending."
The founder of Zionism,
Theodor Herzl, noted early
in 1896 in his earth-shaking
pamphlet "The Jewish
State" that "We have no
flag. We need one. He who
would lead many men must
raise a symbol above their
Greeted with skepti-
cism and even ridicule by
many Jews, Herzl wrote,
"Perhaps a more just his-
torian will discover that
after all it was still some-
thing for a Jewish jour-
nalist without means dur-
ing an era of the most
abominable persecution;
when the Jewish people
had sunk into the depths,
to have converted a rag
into a flag, a despised
multitude into a nation."
This, once an abject rag, is
the flag which now proudly
represents the sovereign
and independent state of Is-
rael at home and abroad,
symbolizing the consumma-
tion of Herzl's vision.

Preparations Comple to for Sunday's Israel Independence Festival

Final preparations have
been made for Detroit's cel-
ebration of Israel's 34th In-
dependence Day. The cele-
bration will be held Sunday
at the Southfield Civic Cen-
The Independence Day
parade will begin at 1 p.m.,
starting at the Bendix Corp.
parking lot, continuing
down Civic Center Drive to
the Southfield Civic Center.
Leading the parade will
be political dignitaries fol-
lowed by floats and mar-
chers representing various
Jewish service groups,
youth groups, synagogues
and Hebrew schools. Prizes
will be awarded to partici-
pants in the parade on the
basis of originality, spirit,
over-all excellence and
compliance with this year's
theme: "Israel, the Land,

Hundreds of marchers braved the rain during the
1981 Israeli Independence Day parade at the South-
field Civic Center.
the Country and the the opening ceremonies
will begin in the Civic
According to Alan Yost, Center. Congressman
parade committee head, William Brodhead will be
there will be more than 600 keynote speaker. Rabbi
Harold Loss of Temple
marchers in the parade.
Following the parade, Israel will offer a prayer

for the state of Israel and
Cantor Larry Vieder of •
Adat Shalom Synagogue
will sing the national an-
State Sen. Doug Ross and
State Rep. Joseph Forbes
will present a joint resolu-
tion from the Michigan
Legislature commemorat-
ing Israel's 34th anniver-
sary. Mayor Donald F.
Fracassi will bring a proc-
lamation from the city of
As part of the ceremony,
the winners of this years
Temmy Skully Essay Con-
test will be announced. The
winners will receive schol-
arship funds for study in Is-
rael provided by the Temmy
Skully Fund at the Jewish
Community Center.
The Amranim Brothers
will entertain after the
opening ceremonies. The
singing duo are third gen-
eration Israelis of Yemenite
descent and specialize in the
folk music of Israel.
Beginning at 11 a.m.,
booths and exhibits will
be open at the Civic Cen-
ter. Some 25 booths will
sell products and display
information relating to
Israel. Fresh flowers are

being flown in from Is-
rael for the celebration
and numerous food
products will be avail-
able for purchase.
Included with the dis-
plays will be several infor-
mation booths. Indepen-
dence Day T-shirts will also
be for sale.
Persons attending the In-
dependence Day celebration
are advised to park in the
Civic Center parking lots or
the lots next to the office
buildings on Civic Center
Drive between Northwest-
ern Highway and Ever-
green roads. The south lot of
the Civic Center, nearest
the golf course and library,
will be closed.
Michael Feldman is the
general chairman of the cel-
ebration. Assisting him as
committee heads are Yost;
David Gubow, booths and
exhibits; Elaine Heaven-
rich, publicity; Mira Eisen-
berg, program; and Shelly
Jackier, advisers. Ami
Cohen and Adele Silver are

Jewish Appeal and the Is-
raeli community of Detroit
are jointly sponsoring a
Yom HaAtzmaut celebra-
tion 8 p.m. Saturday on the
eve of Detroit's 34th Israeli
Independence Day obser-
vance. The gathering will
take place at the Jewish
Community Center in West •

Celebration Begins
Saturday Evening

The public is invited. For
information, call Sandra
Feuer at the Jewish Welfare
Federation, 965-3939.

The Young Leadership
Cabinet of the United

Special guest is Michael
Reiner, deputy director of
the Jewish Agency's Insti-
tute for Leadership De-
velopment in Jerusalem.
Reiner, who is the Jewis'-
Welfare FederaS_
"Scholar in Residence -
through Monday, will share
his insight on recent de-
velopments in the Middle

As part of the festivities,
Israeli folk dancing will be
performed by the Galai
HaRuach group under the
direction of Uri Segal. Av-
raham Ben Ze'ev will pro-
vide Israeli music. A buffet
featuring Israeli foods will
be served.

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