web analytics
July 29, 2014 / 2 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 

Posts Tagged ‘Israeli flag’

The Religious Significance of the Israeli Flag

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Living in Jerusalem, one of the highlights of my year is attending the annual Flag Parade on Yom Yerushalayim. Watching thousands of blue and white flags being paraded through the heart of the city, one can’t help but well up with pride. But the Israeli flag is more than just an expression of national pride – the flag possesses religious significance.

Growing up in New Jersey, my first encounter with the Israeli flag was in the shul we belonged to. There it stood, adjacent to the ark, flanked on the other side by the American flag. Despite a ruling by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein against the placement of the flag in the sanctuary (Igrot Moshe, Orach Chayyim, vol. 1, no. 46), the Israeli flag has become a fixture in the contemporary synagogue.

We Jews have had flags for thousands of years. The Torah (Num. 2:2) describes how the Jews encamped in the wilderness, “each man by his banner.” According to the Midrash, each flag was adorned with its tribe’s unique color and symbol.

And while some may contend that the Israeli flag is a modern invention, Rabbi Ari Shvat, who has done extensive research on the flag, has shown the historical antecedents of this symbol. For example, a flag with the Star of David hung prominently in the synagogues of Prague since the mid-14th century, with the approval of their great rabbis, among them the Maharal, Shelah, Noda B’Yehudah, and Rabbi Yonatan Eybeschutz.

The late historian Avraham Ya’ari, in Toldot Chag Simchat Torah, his groundbreaking work on the development of the customs of Simchat Torah, records that for centuries the flag has been a part of the Simchat Torah celebration – an image we are all familiar with.

Let us not forget the obvious: The design of the modern Israeli flag is based on the tallit. The blue and white motif we are familiar with today was adopted at the First Zionist Congress of 1897, even though it had earlier incarnations.

It was David Wolffsohn, a banker from Kovno who played a role in the early Zionist movement as an assistant to Herzl and later as the second president of the Zionist Organization, who made the decision to adopt the tallit motif. In a jubilee volume celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the First Zionist Congress, Wolffsohn wrote that the choice was obvious: “We already have a flag, white and blue – the tallit that we wrap ourselves up in during prayer. This tallit is our symbol. Let us take the tallit out from its case and unfurl it before the eyes of Israel and before the eyes of all the nations!”

By choosing the familiar religious motif of the tallit, Wolffsohn was determined to imbue the flag with religious meaning.

Rabbi Avraham Yizchak HaKohen Kook also saw religious meaning in the flag. At the rededication of the Churva Synagogue in Jerusalem on Chanukah of 1926, Chief Rabbi Kook not only allowed the flag of the Jewish Legion to enter the synagogue, in his invocation he described the flag as “holy” and a symbol of Redemption.

To many, however, the flag represents secular Zionism and a secular government at times antagonistic to religion. The truths of history, however, prove that things weren’t always so black and white (or blue and white).

In an article that appeared on 22 Nissan 1949, just two weeks before Israel declared its independence, the newspaper of Agudath Israel, Hamevaser, called on its readers to place the Israeli flag in their windows. And in the years following the establishment of the state, the flag was proudly displayed in haredi homes on Yom Ha’Atzmaut – including the homes of great leaders such as Rabbi Yechezkel Abramsky and the Rebbes of Modzitz and Sadigura. Today the flag still flies over the Ponevezh Yeshiva on Yom Ha’Atzmaut out of deference to its founder, Rabbi Yosef Kahaneman, who began the practice.

For me, the importance of finding religious meaning in the flag became crystallized after an unfortunate event: One Purim, a yeshiva bachur who had imbibed a bit too much, noticed the Israeli flag displayed proudly above my door and remarked that it is avodah zarah, idolatry. I quickly responded that the Israeli flag is a symbol of tremendous sacrifice.

Yemenite Chabadnik Paints Gigantic Flag Seen from Jordan (Video)

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

Jordanians across from Eilat have a new view of Israel today, hours before the beginning of Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers, thanks to the work of Yemenite Chabadnik Roni Pilo who has painted a gigantic flag on an Eilat Navy hangar that covers almost an entire acre.

The display of the flag can be seen clearly from the Jordanian shore and cities across from the Gulf.

Pilo worked for three weeks, day and night, to finish the work in time for Memorial Day on Monday night and Tuesday, followed by Yom Ha’atzmaut.

The idea was the brainchild of Eilat Mayor Meir Yitzchak HaLevi, and work was carried out with the help of contributions from the French Jewish community and Tambour Paint Company, which donated 740 gallons of paint.

Pilo used special techniques to utilize light and shade and mixed six different shades of blue and six hues of white to make the flag display appear as if it is 3-D and moving on the hangar at the Israeli Navy base.

Mayor HaLevi said he came up with the idea to improve the aesthetics of the huge hangar.

He said there was no intention to irritate anyone, especially the Arabs across the waters. “We are not here to annoy anyone,” he said in a statement quoted by the Yediot Acharonot newspaper.

“Wherever the flag can be seen, that is all the better,” he added. “We have no reason to apologize for that. Displaying the flag permanently in Eilat, an international tourist and sports city that hosts 3 million people a year from Israel and the entire world, demonstrates our national pride and love for the country.

Navy base commander Ilan Mintz said, “There is nothing more symbolic the day before Remembrance Day for Fallen Soldiers…than a strong and loving embrace.”

The base will be open to visitors on Yom Ha’atzmaut.

Choose a Logo for ‘Operation Unbreakable Alliance’

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

The American and Israeli governments are beating the drum for President Barack Obama’s visit next month, which has officially been called “Operation Unbreakable Alliance.”

The office of the Prime Minister on Sunday now is asking people to choose one of three suggested logos to accompany the name.

One logo shows the Star of David, with half of the stars in red and the other in blue. A second depicts a flag, half of it American and the other half Israel, and the third combines the Star of David with the American flag.

Click here to vote.

 

 

 

 

Hundreds of journalists from around the world are expected to come to Israel; a press center will be opened for them in Jerusalem. During the visit, emphasis will be placed on the use of social media and the involvement of the public.

Hungarian Lawmaker Burns Israeli Flag, Others Call for Jew Screening

Monday, December 17th, 2012

A few weeks ago there was a call in the Hungarian parliament for Jews to be screened to assess whether they are a national security risk.  This past weekend, a member of the Hungarian government burned an Israeli flag during an anti-Israel protest outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

That lawmaker, Lenhardt Balazs, is currently unaffiliated with any party, but he used to be member of the far-right Jobbik (Movement for a Better Hungary) party.  Jobbik opposes any relationship between the Hungarian government and the State of Israel.  The Jobbik party holds 47 seats in the Hungarian Parliament.

In October, members of the Jobbik  party torched an Israeli flag in front of a major synagogue in Budapest. That same month a leader of the Hungarian Jewish community was attacked, and in June, a Hungarian rabbi was accosted on a street in Budapest by a man who told him he “hates all Jews.”

Balazs, 37, left the Jobbik party in November, disgusted because it had become less radical over the two years he had been a member.   After his arrest and questioning following the Israeli flag burning and anti-Israel demonstration on Friday, Balazs was released.

The demonstration had been called to protest Israeli “atrocities” against the Arab Palestinians.  According to several reports, anti-Semitic slogans, such as “filthy Jews,” and “to Auschwitz with all of you!” were shouted during the demonstration.  Approximately 100 people attended the event.

Balazs posted several pictures of himself burning the Israeli flag on his Facebook page, where he wrote that “It is important to destroy the symbols of the enemy.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/hungarian-lawmaker-burns-israeli-flag-others-call-for-jew-screening/2012/12/17/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: