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The Betsy Ross of Israel

Israeli flag made by Rebecca Affachiner, Israel's Betsy Ross (Photo: American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev)

In American lore, Betsy Ross was the creator of the Stars and Stripes more than two centuries ago. But in Israel, the national flag was created much more recently, by a woman named Rebecca Affachiner. JNS' Andrew Lavin tells us the story of this amazing Israeli woman and how the Jewish state is preserving her creation 70 years later:

In honor of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev has donated an Israeli flag created by Rebecca Affachiner, often called “the Betsy Ross of Israel,” to the Ben-Gurion Archives at the university’s Sde Boker Campus.

Affachiner immigrated to Israel in the 1930s. In May 1948, when an American consular official urged her to leave Jerusalem immediately due to the expected outbreak of hostilities, she refused to do so.

“I cannot abandon my sisters and brothers,” she told the newspaper Maariv. “I have waited my entire lifetime to see the rebirth of a Jewish state. I do not intend to miss it.”

She was confined to her apartment on Jabotinsky Street, unable to buy supplies, but spent her time creating an Israeli flag from bed sheets. She sewed on a six-pointed star and colored the flag’s stripes with a blue crayon.

Late in the day on May 14, when Affachiner heard David Ben-Gurion proclaim the formation of the new State of Israel, she proudly went out to her balcony—within sight of the Egyptian forces gathered nearby—and hung her flag. She continued to fly the flag every Israel Independence Day until her death in 1966, when she entrusted it to her friend and caregiver, Ezra P. Gorodesky. She made him promise that he would take good care of the flag because “it was my personal way of welcoming Israel into existence...”

Tags: Israelis You Should Know

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