Jewish Culture Exerts Influence on Postage Stamps of Nations

Although there is not a single government in the world today which can be said to be Jewish, however, various symbols of Jewish culture have recently found expression on eight different postage-stamps used by various countries, according to a study of the subject by the Judische Rundschau of Berlin. Sometimes the Jewish idea is expressed in the picture shown on the stamp, sometimes only in the lettering, and sometimes in both, but in all cases the Jewish character of the stamp is unmistakable.

Sometimes the Jewish character of the stamp is not intentional. This is true of the Hungarian postage stamp brought out in 1932 with a picture of Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis, a Jewish physician and a great benefactor of Hungary. In this case the postage stamp pays homage to Dr. Semmelweis the physician.

ZAMENHOF HONORED

Somewhat different is the case of the Russian stamp of 1929, which bears a picture of Ludwig Zamenhof, the Jewish inventor of Esperanto, the international language. Another Russian stamp, issued in 1933, represents the Russian state of Birobidjan and shows a Jewish worker at a dredgingmachine. It bears the Russian inscription “Birobidjan Hebrew at his Dredger” and is plainly an attempt on the part of the Soviets to recognize the role of the Jew in the Soviet state.

Especially Jewish are the representations on two postage stamps used officially in Palestine, which are closely identified with Jewish traditions. One of these pictures is the grave of Rachel and the tower of King David in Jerusalem, both symbols of the antiquity of Jewish civilization.

JEWISH CHARACTERS ON ISSUES

Other stamps receive their Jewish character from the use of Jewish characters, although the illustrations may be non-Jewish. Among such are the postage stamps issued some years ago in Poland, where part of the text is in Yiddish. Another was issued by the Czechoslovak government at the time of the Zionist-Revisionist Congress in Karlsbad in 1930. Even in Germany we find a stamp with a Jewish inscription. But that was in the days before the advent of Hitlerism to power in 1928, when Germany honored the Jews of Breslau with a Rosh Ha-Shona stamp bearing the inscription “Shnah Tovah”-Happy New Year-in Hebrew-and the Jewish Year “5638.”

The old Turkish government of Palestine and the former Austro-Hungarian government also made use of Hebrew inscriptions on their stamps. Particularly worth mentioning are the Austrian stamp with the “Petach-Tikvah” lettering and the Turkish issue for use in Palestinian mails with the Hebrew inscription “Rishon-le-Zion.”

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