This short article was written in the Israeli children's newspaper Mishmar Layeladim by eight-year-old Ya'akov Mondshein from Haifa on May 6, 1948, eight days before Israel declared independence.
Ya’akov writes about a bird that was trapped in his room. He suddenly feels sorry for the bird that no longer has its freedom and opens the window. He ends his short story by describing the empathy he feels towards the bird as a Jewish boy who understands the importance of freedom.
The text tells us nothing about the boy’s past. However, we known it was written in 1948, during the final days of the British Mandate and only a few years after the horrors of the Holocaust. It can therefore be assumed that he understands what it means to be ruled by others and probably dreams of being free in his own land. According to the newspaper, Ya’akov lived in Haifa, a largely socialist city, which might explain why he had his story published in the socialist children’s newspaper, Mishmar Layeladim.
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Mishmar Layeladim – Mishmar Layeladim was a children’s newspaper published in Israel. The newspaper, that was affiliated to the adult's newspaper Al HaMishmar, was first published in 1945 by the socialist Hashomer Hatzair movement. The slogan of the newspaper was “For Zionism, socialism, and brotherhood amongst nations.” The newspaper had an educational agenda and included reports on current affairs, stories, poems, and quizzes often on Zionist topics. Many famous Israeli writers and artists – such as Devorah Omer, Yigal Mosenson, Danny Caravan, and Nurit Tsarfati – first published their work in Mishmar Layeladim.
Haifa – Haifa is a city situated on the northern coast of the Mediterranean on the slopes of Mount Carmel. Archaeological findings show that the area was inhabited as early as the late Bronze Age. Throughout history, the area has been inhabited by Israelites, Phoenicians, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, Ottomans, British, and now Israelis. Due to its location on the Mediterranean Sea in a natural bay, it has been a major port and thus a centre of commerce and industry since historical times. The size of the settlements in the Haifa area varied throughout history. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, Jewish and Arab migrants came to Haifa, and the city began a process of urban and industrial development which included the port, a railway service to other parts of Israel and even to Syria, and a power station. The city became known as a largely workers’ city and was therefore dubbed “Red Haifa.” In 1919 the Technion Institute of Technology was established along with various cultural institutions. The city with its mixed population of Jews and Arabs was a place of conflict towards the end of British Mandate, and many Arabs left the city. Following the establishment of the State of Israel, new neighbourhoods and institutions were built, turning Haifa into the regional capital of northern Israel. Today Haifa is Israel’s third largest city with a mixed Jewish-Arab population of around 300,000, who mostly coexist peacefully despite sporadic tensions that arise especially at times of conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.