NEW YORK (Mar. 11)
Nine postal agencies around the world issued special postage stamps and souvenir sheets in the past year to commemorate the 850th anniversary of the birth of the famous Jewish philosopher and physician, Maimonides (1135-1204). Post Offices in South America, Africa and the Caribbean have all participated in the recent philatelic salute in honor of Maimonides.
Maimonides, whose real name was Rabbi Moses ben Maimon (or the Rambam), was born in Cordoba on the day before Passover in 1135.
Throughout the world, his reputation as an outstanding religious leader, physician, philosopher and scholar is now recognized. He is best known as the author of “Guide for the Perplexed,” a major work not just in Jewish writing but, in world literature and religion influencing the philosophy of Judaism, Islam and Christianity.
NATIONS HONORING THE RAMBAM
The first to issue a series of stamps for the Rambam was Antigua and Barbuda, a former British colony in the Leeward chain of the West Indies. The Caribbean nation issued a $2 stamp and $5 souvenir sheet featuring Maimonides’ portrait on June 17, 1985.
The Republic of Guinea, a former French colony in West Africa, released a 7 Syli stamp and 7 Syli souvenir sheet. They pictured Maimonides at the age of 13, being forced to flee with the other Jews of Cordoba in the aftermath of the town’s conquest by a band of fanatical Moslems.
In the foreground of the stamp is another portrait of the famed Jewish philosopher as he appeared in later life. At the bottom of the souvenir sheet is an illustration of a rabbi reading from a Torah scroll to a group of young Jewish orphans in the State of Israel today.
Five other nations — Dominica, Grenada, the Grenada Grenadines, Lesotho and Sierra Leone–have issued single stamps bearing a portrait of the Rambam and highlighting his important contributions in the field of medicine.
Two more countries to honor the legacy of Maimonides are Paraguay and Bolivia. Both issued special souvenir sheets in rather limited editions of just 5,000 copies.
In an attempt to satisfy the strong interest of both stamp and Judaica collectors, the Atlas Stamp Company, 48 West 48th Street, New York, N.Y 10036 has designed a special stamp album to house the new Maimonides stamp issues. In addition to the sets released this past year, the stamp album also includes spaces for earlier stamps and souvenir sheets issued in honor of the Rambam by Israel (1953), Spain(1967) and Grenada (1971).