This is a colourful New Year postcard from 1967, showing an armoured vehicle entering the Old City of Jerusalem through Lions’ Gate. Printed a few months after the victory of the Six-Day War, the card features one of the war’s main achievements: the liberation of the Old City after 19 years of Jordanian rule. The postcard depicts Lion’s Gate, the gate through which the 55th Paratroopers Brigade entered and captured the Old City of Jerusalem in the Six-Day War. The postcard reads: “As lions Israel’s fighters conquered, for peace and security.” The card is dated “Rosh Hashana Eve 19__,” with a space left for the addition of the specific year.
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Six Day War - Since May 1967 there had been tension along the borders of Israel. Egypt moved troops into Sinai and unilaterally closed the Straits of Tiran, which blocked off Israel’s supply route with Asia. Likewise, Syria deployed troops in the Golan Heights. After months of threats and aggression, the Israeli cabinet approved a pre-emptive attack on Egypt. On June 5, 1967, Israel’s air force bombed Egyptian airfields and destroyed their entire fleet of airplanes while still on the ground. The Syrian, Jordanian, and Iraqi air forces were also attacked, and over the next few days battles took place on the Egyptian, Syrian, and Jordanian fronts. On June 6 fighting began in the divided city of Jerusalem at Ammunition Hill. The Old City of Jerusalem was liberated the following day, June 7, by forces led by Colonel Motta Gur who radioed the message: “The Temple Mount is in our hands and our forces are by the [Western] Wall.” At the Western Wall, the IDF chaplain, Rabbi Shlomo Goren, blew a shofar to celebrate the event, which was broadcast live on Kol Yisrael, the Israeli radio station. The fighting was over after six days. Despite the many casualties, there was also a sense of euphoria. Jerusalem was reunified, and Israel had captured the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip. While much has changed in the area in the ensuing years, the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Golan Heights (Israel disengaged from the Gaza Strip in 2005) remains a matter of controversy both in Israel and around the world.
Shana Tova Cards - The earliest instance of a written “shana tova” greeting is a fourteenth-century letter written by the Ashkenazi rabbi known as the Maharil (Jacob ben Moses Moelin). This letter affirms the existence of this custom in German Jewish communities at the time. In the eighteenth century, the custom began spreading beyond the German-speaking realm to other large concentrations of Jews in Eastern Europe, especially Poland. By the end of the century, Shana Tova cards began to take on distinct characteristics, such as special writing paper, with the custom spreading throughout the entire Ashkenazi world during the nineteenth century. The postal service emerged around this time, and in the 1880s, Jewish entrepreneurs began to print commercial greeting Shana Tova cards. By this time, Shana Tova cards constituted the main body of postcards sent by Jews, and this would remain so for around 100 years.
Between the end of the nineteenth century and the end of First World War, a time known as the “Golden Age of Postcards,” the vast majority of the mail sent by Jews in Europe and America consisted of Shana Tova cards. Today, in the digital era, cards sent by post have given way to text messages and emails.