This photograph shows a large crowd of Jewish people standing under the Arch of Titus in Rome. They had gathered there to celebrate the establishment of the State of Israel. Many of the people pictured were European refugees who were living in displaced persons (DP) camps waiting to immigrate to Israel. In the photograph people are holding banners in celebration and appreciation with messages such as: “Long Live the Hebrew State,” and “Thank you to the United States and Russia for helping establish the State.”
It is no accident that the celebration was held by the Arch of Titus, a monument honouring the victory of Emperor Titus. The monument has a relief depicting Roman soldiers taking the menorah and other holy vessels from the Jewish Temple to Rome.
The Arch of Titus became a symbol of the Jews’ exile and destruction, and for years some Roman Jews followed a tradition not to pass under it. Once the State of Israel was established and the Jews could return to their homeland, the tradition was annulled. In fact, this photograph shows the Jews walking under the Arch in the opposite direction to that of the exiles depicted on the arch. The marchers were walking in the direction of Jerusalem, as if they were choosing to leave Rome and declaring their victorious return to the Land of Israel after thousands of years of exile.