ISRAEL @ 75 SPECIAL SECTION
Gemstones and anniversaries. These days, there are variations for traditional and modern gifts when it comes to marking anniversaries. Often the reason is prosaic, such as cost. Other changes have more to do with taste. So when we read that Blue Sapphire is an alternative gemstone to mark a 75th, we went with it to mark Israel’s 75th — after all, how could we turn down the significance of a blue stone to mark the Jewish state? If you feel the white of Israel’s flag is being ignored, then pair your blue sapphire with a diamond — the traditional 75th anniversary stone.
When it comes to marriages, reaching the 75-year milestone is a rarity — for countries, however, 75 is relatively young! The post-WW II order saw the emergence of many new nation-states, of which Israel was one, but in Europe and Asia, some countries date back hundreds of years, or even millennia, such as Iran and the tiny city-state of San Marino.
What else kicked off in 1948?
• Burma (Myanmar) gained independence from the UK and North and South Korea split. In the world of entertainment, Superman made his first live-action appearance on film in a 15-part Columbia Pictures film serial (played by an uncredited Kirk Alyn). Jewish actors Rhea Perlman, Barbara Hershey and Billy Crystal were all born.
• Aside from watching “Superman,” what else were people doing for fun in 1948? Possibly watching the now classic “Easter Parade” with Judy Garland and Fred Astaire, featuring the music of Irving Berlin, which was released that year, or listening to “Twelfth Street Rag” by Pee Wee Hunt, which was the number one Billboard single of that year.
• In geopolitics, Congress ratified the Marshall Plan, which enabled economic recovery in Western Europe following WW II. On the other side of things, Communists took over Czechoslovakia, a significant strengthening of the Iron Curtain. Taken together, those two events were pivotal in the escalation of the Cold War.
• The most globally notable death in 1948 was the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. Another assassination was that of Folke Bernadotte, the UN Security Council mediator in the Arab-Israeli conflict, who was killed by the Zionist paramilitary group Lehi.
• As a brutal war was rocking the new Jewish state, Jews were being targeted elsewhere, too. In the summer of 1948, a series of bombs, likely in reaction to the defeat of Egypt’s army in Israel, targeted Cairo’s Jewish areas, leading to 70 Jewish deaths. Other Arab countries that saw violent anti-Jewish rioting that year were Morocco and Libya.
1948 was a pivotal year for the Jewish people, a game changer. But Israel is still a young country, figuring out its national identity and contending with divergent points of view — much as the US was in the 1850s.
Iyar, the Jewish month in which Israel Independence Day is celebrated, is associated with healing, an omen which bodes well for Israel finding a way to resolve its current crisis. As an acronym, Iyar is said to harken Moses’ prayer when his sister Miriam was sick — “E-l na refa na lah, for I am Hashem, your Healer,” (Exodus 15:26), words and sentiments that we echo today.
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