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From the archives: The birth of Israel

Read the IJNs of the 1948 and two themes emerge — both of which were marked last and this week. We set off on a trip through the archive to see how the new State of Israel was reported, 50 years ago, in May, 1948 and were surprised that as big a story in Denver at that time was that the new Rose Hospital was in its final fundraising stretch. What a coincidence. Just last week, the statue of Gen. Rose, from whom the hospital is named, was dedicated on Colorado State Capitol grounds, in Veterans Park.

In 1948, Golda Meir visited Denver to raise funds for the fledgling Jewish state.

Take the front page the 4th of Iyar 5708/May 13, 1948 edition, the issue just before the 5th of Iyar 5708/May 14, 1948, when British Mandate expired and the State of Israel was declared. In huge bold letters: “Denver to Hail Jewish State.” But also above the fold: “Errol Flynn, Gen. Hodges and Jolson to Spark Rose Drive.” The hospital association was in the throes of trying to raise the final $600,000 of the $2.5 needed.

The day before Israel was declared, Denver Jews were filled with hope and excitement. That continue in the following weeks, alongside coverage of the ongoing independence war — and updates of the Rose Hospital drive.

As May turned into June, and a truce was on the horizon, a somewhat native daughter shows up on the IJN’s front pages, advocating for the fledgling Jewish state. If you guessed “Golda Meir,” you’d be right, though she was still Goldie Myerson then. She visited Denver to launch the 1948 Allied Jewish Campaign.

“We cannot let her down, and we cannot fail the brave boys and girls of the Army of Israel,” said Rabbi Herbert Friedman, one of the campaign chairs, in the June 17 IJN.

In the following issue, June 24, it was announced that 49 Denver philanthropists raised $405,840 — a remarkable sum if you consider the above-mentioned fundraising targets for Rose Hospital. According to Inflation Calculator, that $405,840 is today a little over $5.1 million!

In a guest editorial in the issue, legendary Denver philanthropist and honorary chair of the campaign Adolph Kiesler wrote: “When the heard the truth from Goldie Myerson, there was no time for reflection. There was only time for action. I am proud to say that everyone responded with the greatest philanthropic outpouring of funds in Denver history.”

We wouldn’t be surprised if, even 75 years later, that record still holds.

This online feature explores the IJN’s new digital archive, discovering the news of the week, years ago.

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