The Philatelic Service of the Israel Postal Service issued several fascinating educational stamps this month, spanning a variety of periods and disciplines.
Among them is a stamp jointly issued with the Philippines that commemorates that country's willingness to provide refuge to Holocaust-endangered European Jews. The Philippine Commonwealth, in fact, accepted nearly 1,300 Jews – and was willing to accept 10,000 more, if only the U.S. State Department had allowed it to do so.
Another stamp issued this month commemorates the life of Ariel Sharon, Israel's 11th prime minister, who is credited with a major role when Israel snatched victory from the jaws of defeat during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. He is also blamed by many for practically single-handedly effecting the Disengagement/Expulsion from Gush Katif in 2005 – a point given minimal attention in the Postal Service's biography of Sharon. The Postal Service concentrates, instead, on Sharon's contributions to Israel's military, his role in and before the 1982 war in Lebanon, and his political career during he which he served in several ministerial capacities before becoming prime minister in 2001.
A third stamp focuses on the International Year of Light 2015, together with the Nobel Prize in Chemistry jointly awarded to two men with Israeli citizenship and an American Jew; much of the research honored by the Nobel committee was carried out in Weizmann Institute in Rehovot.
The stamps can be seen not only on the Israel Postal Service site, but also on the private website of Jacob Richman of Maaleh Adumim. Richman is a life-in-Israel enthusiast whose dozens of web pages depict the best that Israel has to offer in countless areas.
"Many people living abroad and even in Israel," Richman says, "are not aware of the educational stamps that the Israel Postal Service has been issuing for decades." As a subscriber to the IPS collectors' service, he receives the new stamps every quarter – which he then scans and posts on his site.
In addition to being a unique hasbara tool, Richman feels, many educators all over the world find this a very unique way to show the good things happening in Israel."
Two other stamps issued this month deal with the game of chess – the European Individual Chess Championship games of 2015 will be held in Jerusalem – and Israeli winter flowers.