This image is of a postcard from Austria in the early twentieth century. The image in the centre is of a strong, and proud young man – a pioneer – with a plough in his hand and the Star of David behind him. The young woman and child on the right are also in the field, standing tall. On the left, an elderly couple, a scarfed woman and a man with a beard and a kippa, represent life in the Diaspora. While the elderly couple on the left are described as “from slavery,” the other people are described as “pioneers” and “to freedom.” At the bottom of the card are symbols combining the Menorah and the Magen David, and in the centre, there is a large sun, desert, palm trees, and people walking beside a camel, presumably a depiction of the Land of Israel. These imageries are very typical not only of the artistic styles of the beginning of the twentieth century but also of work by artists inspired by Zionism such as E.M Lilien and Boris Schatz. These works of art often contrast the “New Jews” – the young, strong, and secular pioneers farming the land – with the elderly, downcast, and traditional Jews of the Diaspora. In these compositions Israel is typically a desert land with a huge sun, palm trees, and camels.
It is important to mention that the Hebrew text at the top of the postcard “reads” from left to right like English and not from right to left as it should be in Hebrew: “From slavery to freedom” with the word chalutz (pioneer) in the centre. This might suggest that the designer of this postcard was not very familiar with the Hebrew language.
This postcard was designed in Europe in the early 1900s in support of Jews immigrating to the Land of Israel. The organisation responsible for this postcard provided food and shelter to Russian and Ukrainian immigrants to Palestine. At the time, Zionist organisations were forming to support Jews from all over Europe who wanted to move to Palestine.
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Early Aliyot – The earliest aliyot began with the BILU aliya from Russia in 1882. These early immigration waves were driven by the ancient bond of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel. This was also the time of the awakening of the Zionist ideology and the belief in the Land of Israel as the Jewish homeland. Settling in Israel was considered the antidote to the ills of the Diaspora which would help the Jewish people become a strong and healthy nation of “New Jews” who would be connected to the land and live a life of social justice. Another driving force for these aliyot was the anti-Semitism in the immigrants’ countries of origin. These Zionist immigrants, also known as the chalutzim (pioneers), were instrumental in developing Israel, founding towns and kibbutzim, laying the foundations for future Israeli society, economy, politics, culture, defence, education, and more.