JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli flag created by a woman dubbed the “Betsy Ross of Israel” has been donated to Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in honor of Israel’s 70th anniversary.
Rebecca Affachiner, an immigrant to Israel in the 1930s, created the flag in May 1948. Affachiner refused to leave Jerusalem that month despite a call by the American consular official due to the expected imminent outbreak of war.
Confined to her Jerusalem apartment, Affachiner spent her time creating an Israeli flag from bedsheets and a blue crayon.
When Affachiner heard David Ben-Gurion proclaim the formation of the new State of Israel, she hung her flag on her balcony. She did so every Israel Independence Day until her death in 1966.
Before her death, she gave the flag to her friend and caregiver, Ezra Gorodesky, making him promise he would take good care of the flag because “it was my personal way of welcoming Israel into existence,” the university said in a statement.
Gorodesky kept the flag for 50 years, and this year sought a permanent home for the historical object. He contacted a friend, Rabbi David Geffen, who made aliyah from Delaware in the 1970s, and Geffen put him in touch with American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
The flag will become part of The Ben-Gurion Research Institute for the Study of Israel and Zionism.
Affachiner, the first female graduate of New York’s Jewish Theological Center, in 1907, was a teacher, administrator and charity worker. Born in Poland and raised on the East Side of New York, she also lived in Connecticut and Virginia before making aliyah in 1934 at age 50.
The flag of Israel — a blue star of David and two blue horizontal stripes on a white background — is based on a design for a flag that hung at the B’nai Zion Educational Society in Boston, Massachusetts, and adopted in 1898 at the second international Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland.
“The flag will remain as a symbol of the creative passion that brought Israel into existence and the sustaining passion that helps ensure Israel’s future,” Toni Young, president of American Associates, Ben-Gurion University, said in a statement.