• Issue: June 2003
  • Designer: Ad Vanooijen
  • Stamp Size: 40 mm x 25.7 mm
  • Plate no.: 530, 531 (two phosphor bars) 532, 533 (no phosphor bar)
  • Sheet of 10 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: E. Lewin-Epstein Ltd.
  • Method of printing: offset

The flag of the State of Israel combines the "Star of David" and two blue stripes on a white background. The origins of the "Star of David" are in ancient cultures and it was only later recognized as a symbol of the Jewish people. The name "Star of David", according to Gershom Shalom generated from legends spread by Kabbalists during the Middle Ages of magical powers inherent in the protector of King David, which saved the people of Israel during battle. The blue color originates in the Bible "...let them attach a cord of blue to the fringe at each corner" (Numbers, Chapter 15 verse 38). The white and blue together with gold and purple are the colors of the High Priest (Exodus, Chapter 28) as well as the colors of the tabernacle hangings (Exodus, Chapter 26).

The first known reference to a national blue and white flag appears in a poem by the Austrian Jewish poet, Ludwig August Frankel "Colors of (the land of) Judah", (1864). The first "Hovevei Zion" (Lovers of Zion) societies used the "Star of David" as a national symbol.

One of the earliest known use of the "Star of David" as a distinctly Jewish symbol was in Prague. From there its recognition as a Jewish symbol spread to Moravia, Austria and other countries during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Prague, 15th Century

The flag of the Prague Jewish community was first hoisted in 1490 during a procession to mark the coronation of Wladislaus Jagellon as King of Hungary. The community acquired the flag between 1471 and 1490. The Prague Flag, was revived, under Ferdinand I (1526 - 1564), and fora second time in 1716, under Charles VI. The flag originally featured the Ten Commandments and, in the 1530s or 1540s, this was replaced by the "Star of David" with an illustration of a Jewish hat inserted in the center. An inscription on the flag states that Emperor Charles IV granted the flag to the Jewish community in 1357. This text was added to the flag in 1716 and is based on an incorrect chronicle written in 1540. The stamp shows the flag in the Altneusehul Synagogue in Prague.

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Ness Ziona, 1891

On January 1st, 1891 a ceremony was held in Wadi Khenin (Ness Ziona) to celebrate the laying of the cornerstone for the "workers village".

Many people and leaders of the Yishuv (Jewish Settlement) attended the ceremony. Michael Halperin, the legendary guard and man of vision, arrived at the ceremony leading the Mounted Company he established to defend the Jewish settlement of the Land of Israel. They were dressed in blue and white and armed with swords and guns. Halperin pulled a folded flag out from under his cape and raised it on a stick. A "Star of David" and the words "Ness Ziona" were embroidered in gold on this blue and white flag. It would appear, writes Moshe Smilensky, that this was the first time that "the Yishuv (settlement), openly raised a flag that would in later years become the flag of the Zionist Movement". The stamp shows a man on horseback, waving a flag with a photograph of the "Workers Village" in the background, dated 1897.

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"Der Judenstaat" Herzl, 1896

Herzl describes the flag of the Jewish State in his book, Der Judenstaat, as: "A white flag with seven gold stars. The white field symbolizes the new, pure life; the stars are the seven golden hours of our working day. Because Jews will enter the new land under the sign of labor".

After publication of Der Judenstaat and while exchanging opinions with various Zionists, Herzl proposed two designs, neither of which were accepted by the Zionist Movement. The first design was a white flag with the "Star of David" in the center and seven gold stars placed in each corner of the Star of David with one gold star at the top.

Herzl added a picture of a lion to the center of the "Star of David" in his second design. The blue and white flag was present at all the Zionist Movement's Congresses (and throughout the Zionist Movement), but it wasn't until the 18th Zionist Congress in 1933 that the flag and national anthem, "Hatikva", were made official.The stamp shows Herzl's first handwritten design of the flag with a photograph of one of the first Zionist Congresses in the background.

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The State of Israel, 1948

A competition for designing Israel's flag was announced with the establishment of the State. All the entries were rejected and on 28 October, 1948 the transitory State Council published a declaration on the flag of the State of Israel. The flag of the Zionist Movement was chosen as Israel's flag and design standards and specifications were determined. The stamp shows the flag of the State of Israel. A photograph of the celebrations after the UN decision of 29 November 1947 is in background.

Gidi Marinsky
Israel Philatelic Service

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The Flag