Build Israel Just By Observing Shabbat, Candle Lighting, 1943
This poster was published in Israel in 1943. The text reads “building Israel just by observing Shabbat.” The text appears on the map of Israel showing Israel, the Mediterranean Sea, the Kinneret, (the Sea of Galilee) and the Dead Sea. Next to the Kinneret is a depiction of a “tower and stockade settlement” with a fence, tents, and a watchtower. Next to the coast is a city with a main street, houses, and trees.
The map was published in 1943 in a journal called Shabbat Candles. The organisation sponsoring it is named at the bottom of the poster: The National Centre of Associations for the Safeguarding of Shabbat in Eretz Israel. From other publications of this organisation, it seems to have been connected to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel that was headed at the time by Rabbi Isaac Herzog and Rabbi Ben-Zion Meir Hai Uziel. Their message was that the success and prosperity of the Land of Israel depended on keeping the Shabbat and, in general, preserving Jewish tradition in Israel. This poster, with its message that is both Zionist and religious, is not typical of posters from that time.
During the 1940s Israel was under the rule of the British Mandate. During this time Israel was developing rapidly: new cities, towns, and kibbutzim were being founded, the economy was growing, and state infrastructures, later integral to the State of Israel, were being established. The Jewish population was attempting to find ways to integrate Jewish identity, culture, and tradition into the public domain. While some people strove to create a “New Jew” – a contemporary Israeli with modern traditions and cultures – others fought to preserve a traditional Jewish atmosphere in Israel. The question of how to observe Shabbat in the public domain has been an issue since the very beginning of the Zionism movement and remains controversial even today.
The poster also reflects different types of settlements that were established in Israel in the 1940s. On the top of the poster there is a “tower and stockade settlement.” These were settlements that were built in Mandatory Israel when the establishment of new Jewish settlements was restricted. The Turkish law, still in force at the time of the British Mandate, stated that an illegal building or settlement could not be demolished if a fence and tower had been built. Jewish settlers would therefore build the beginnings of new settlements by rapidly and secretly, often overnight, erecting a tower and a fence, so that the Mandate police could not block them. In this way 57 settlements were built, including the kibbutzim Tirat Zvi, Ein Gev, Hanita, Ma’ale Hachamisha, and Ein Hashofet.
Teachers of Jewish Studies can use this resource for different subjects. When teaching about Shabbat, they can present this poster to ask what the connection might have been between building the land of Israel and keeping Shabbat or between Zionism and tradition and whether there was agreement about this among the various different communities. The discussion can include how Shabbat should be kept today in Israel in a way that respects all the different communities.
Jewish History teachers can use this resource to talk about the settlement of Israel during the British Mandate.
Art teachers can also use this as an example of a public campaign poster in the 1940s and compare it to similar posters today.
What text appears on the poster? What does it mean?
The text is superimposed on a map. What map is this?
Describe the two different kinds of settlements on the map.
Who published this poster?
Reading Between the Lines
The poster reads: “Building Israel Just by Observing Shabbat.”
What do you think this means?
Who do you think printed this poster?
Who do you think believed that there was a connection between observing Shabbat and Israel’s prosperity?
The image of the settlement on the upper part of the poster shows a fence surrounding a couple of tents and a watchtower.
What was special about these “tower and stockade” settlements?
Why were they built in this way?
What other settlement appears on the map? What does it represent?
This poster connects between Zionist and religious values.
Do you agree with this connection?
According to the poster, Shabbat should be observed in Israel.
Is there only one way to observe Shabbat?
How do you observe Shabbat?
How should Shabbat be observed in the Israeli public domain?
Design a poster that shows how you think Shabbat should be observed in Israel.
What would this be?
What message would you want your poster to convey to your audience? How will you convey your message to them? Do you think everyone will agree with your point of view? If they don’t agree, how might they respond?