This is a Shana Tova card printed in 1950 (Jewish year 5710). It shows a group of Israeli soldiers marching with the Israeli flag. To the right of the soldiers is a portrait of Theodore Herzl, the father of modern political Zionism. Beneath the images is the text שנת בטחון והתרחבות"“ – hope for a year of security and expansion."
This card was printed when the State of Israel was two years old. The memory of the Holocaust was still very fresh, and the fact that there were Jewish soldiers protecting the Jewish state and holding the Jewish flag was very exciting and moving. Many cards from the early years of Israel include pictures of soldiers, and this choice emphasizes the pride people took in the Israel Defence Forces. Images of soldiers also represent the feelings of security and gratitude that people felt toward the soldiers. Herzl appears here almost like a father figure to the young soldiers who are protecting the Jewish state that he had envisioned. The text with its hope for security and expansion expresses the longing for a life without wars and with greater opportunities for the country and its citizens.
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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.