Stamp gets Israel’s seal of approval

Stamp gets Israel’s seal of approval

One Teaneck teen is leaving her stamp on Israel — literally.

Yael Bildner was named one of four winners of a contest to design a new Israeli postal stamp. Sponsored by the magazine Babaganewz and Israel Post Ltd. (formally the Israel Postal Authority), the contest drew about 1,700 entries, of which four were selected to become stamps.

This stamp, designed by Yael Bildner, right, won a contest and will be used in Israel.

"I think it’s exciting that something I made is going to be used as part of daily life in Israel," Yael, 13, told The Jewish Standard. Bildner was in fifth grade at New York’s SAR Academy when she entered the contest last year.

Joyce Lempel, who came up with and coordinated the contest, originally wanted a competition to create a stamp that expressed solidarity with Israel at a time when bombings in the country were becoming more frequent. She approached Ehud Olmert, who was then the country’s minister of communications, and his approval sped up the project. She then reached Yosef Abramowitz, the CEO of Jewish Family & Life! and a co-founder of Babaganewz. Abramowitz saw the opportunity to tie the idea into Babaganewz’s annual Israel-themed contest, and during the fall of ‘004/winter ‘005, the call went out for entries across North America. Contest organizers were more than pleased when they received nearly ‘,000 entries.

courtesy of Babaganewz

"Can you imagine being a kid going into a post office in Israel? It’s an enormous success," Abramowitz said. "We were overwhelmed in the best sense. We think it’s something Israeli kids will also feel a certain kind of kinship with."

Yael decided she wanted to show symbols of Israel on her stamp, so she focused on stained glass and palm trees — both of which can be found in Israel, she said.

"I was delighted and proud of her," said her mother, Lauren. "She really put a lot of time and effort into making the stamp. It’s a good thing to be able to put so much effort into something."

Yael and the other three winners — then-eighth-grader Jessica Deutsch of New Rochelle, N.Y., then-eighth-grader Marissa Galin of Scottsdale, Ariz., and then-first grader Michela Janower of Newton, Mass. — will travel to the Washington World Philatelic Exhibition in Washington on May ‘8. Israel Post will present the stamps in a souvenir sheet to the families. The stamps themselves were issued in February as a series called "Children of America Paint Israel." It is unclear when the stamps will actually go into circulation.

When the contest launched last year Ohlmert expressed his support: "These stamps will travel to the four corners of the world and as ambassadors for the State of Israel," the now prime minister wrote at the time in a letter to the publication.

That was the goal of the contest, Abramowitz said. Babaganewz looks for new ways to connect kids to Israel through what he called a latent love that American Jews feel for the Jewish state, but new ways were needed to express it.

"There’s been a distancing between Israel and the American Jewish community, especially the younger generations. We have a different vision about how Jewish children can be educated worldwide, given the power and uniqueness of Jewish peoplehood," Abramowitz said.

Babagenewz publisher Michael Foilb said that his magazine was more involved with Israel for this contest than it had been with any of its others, and that the competitions really would not have worked without Israel’s involvement. Although he is not sure if the magazine will run the contest again because of the massive amount of work that had to go into it — from his magazine’s coordinating with Israel to the hard work the kids put into their entries — he gauged the entire endeavor as a tremendous success.

"It’s not like filling in a raffle ticket," Foilb said. "To have that many kids do a lot of work is very touching."

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