Israel Bonds, the Enterprise that Helped Build Israel, Turns 70

In Judaism, the number 70 resonates with special meaning. The Torah, for example, lists 70 descendants of Noah. The Babylonian exile lasted 70 years. The Midrash points out Jerusalem is referred to 70 different ways.
And Israel Bonds, the enterprise that became an economic cornerstone of the modern Jewish state, has turned 70. As the organization celebrates the milestone anniversary, it does so with justifiable pride. Over the course of seven decades, Israel Bonds has helped ensure that a fledgling state would not become an obscure 20th century footnote, but instead, the nation President John F. Kennedy confidently predicted would “endure and flourish.”

Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion convenes the Israel Bonds founding conference
Like Israel itself, Israel Bonds came into existence at a defining moment. Israel arose in the aftermath of the Holocaust. Yet, little more than two years after becoming a reality, the outlook for the reborn Jewish nation was already dire. The year-long War of Independence had devastated its nascent economy; new immigrants, including thousands of concentration camp survivors, were housed in primitive shelters; and food shortages were rampant.
Assessing the precarious situation, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion knew his struggling country would be hard-pressed to deliver even one-third of the desperately needed financial resources. The remainder, he realized, “must be mobilized by the Jewries of the world, and especially,” he emphasized, “the Jews of the United States.”

Israeli icon Moshe Dayan addresses an early Bonds rally

The enormity of the task was the impetus for the September 3, 1950 convening of the conference leading to the creation of Israel Bonds. As they gathered at Jerusalem’s King David Hotel, Ben-Gurion assured the assembled delegates, “Our difficulties are only temporary, and the hardships we have imposed, and will continue to impose on ourselves, are for the sake of a much brighter future that is not far away.”
Seven decades later, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, addressing thousands of Bonds advocates via an August 18 virtual event, marveled, “Even he, Israel’s founding prime minister, could not have foreseen the extraordinary success of Israel Bonds.”

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