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From the archives: Israel re-born

One of the best things about a visit to the IJN archives is that you never know where you’ll end up. Example: Intending to write a post about this year’s summer movies, both of which have a Jewish connection, we instead wound up discovering this incredible front page from the IJN’s Rosh Hashanah edition from 1948.

Front page of the IJN, Sept. 30, 1948

While we’ve often looked up the front page from when Israel was declared a state, we hadn’t thought to look up that year’s Jewish New Year issue. Boy, were we missing out. This cover will take your breath away and transport right back to that moment in time, when for the first time in close to two millennia, the Jewish people once again had a homeland in the Holy Land.

The image conveys the miraculous a return to Zion and the sense of hope that brought to world Jewry. What an image to see just a week before Rosh Chodesh Elul, which kicks off the run-up to Rosh Hashanah.

What brought us to that September 30, 1948 issue? It was this headline: “Atomic Bomb Lodge of B’nai B’rith!” That’s right, we were on the hunt for “Oppenheimer”-related coverage. There’s plenty of it, but this one especially caught our attention. Lodge No. 1771 was “formed principally of atomic scientists” and, no surprises here, had “the highest percentage of Ph. D’s of any B’nai B’rith group in the world.” Not every member was a brainiac, though. “The lodge also includes business men, artisans, and one policeman,” the newspaper reports.

Another fun one was the “invisible” Los Alamos congregation that held services and events in 1944-45, but had to keep it all hush-hush due to the top secret nature of the atom bomb project. The group’s front was a Santa Fe PO Box.

When it comes to the other huge summer hit, the pickings are slimmer, even though Barbie inventor Ruth Handler was a West Side girl. All we found was a 1968 Shmoos note likening the Handlers to Horatio Alger. The IJN archives are currently digitized through 1969, and we do know that more coverage of Ruth appeared in later IJNs — one feature story is part of the exhibition opening today at the Golda Meir House Museum, “Denver, Colorado: Birthplace of Ideas, as presented in the pages of the IJN.”

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

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