“Hopefully, we’ll return soon”: Postcards From the Yom Kippur War Front

50 years ago, the Yom Kippur War didn’t spare the National Library of Israel, and employees were called to the front, serving many long months in reserve duty afterwards as well. During this period, they kept their Library colleagues up to speed on events, how they were doing, and how they hoped to get back to the finer things in life: “It’s good to see that there are still people dealing with catalogs and archives.”

The Queen Who Loved the Destroyer of the Second Temple

Who was Queen Berenice? Was she a cold, calculating seductress or simply a woman captivated by a young, charismatic general? Here we give you the story of the Second Temple-period Jewish queen forced to survive in a tumultuous world, whose love affair with Titus – the future Roman emperor and notorious suppressor of a Jewish rebellion—remains a bone of contention

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What’s It Like Being a Nazi Hunter? The Files of Tuviah Friedman

Tuviah Friedman never forgot nor did he forgive. He dedicated his life to finding and capturing fugitive Nazis, as part of the effort to bring them to trial for their crimes. He was the first to obtain credible information that placed Adolf Eichmann in Argentina. Looking through his archive files preserved at the National Library of Israel offers a glimpse into the day-to-day work of a Nazi hunter…

When a Grenade Exploded in the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament

No one believed it could happen, and even today it is difficult to comprehend how easy it was. In 1957, a man walked into the Knesset, then located in downtown Jerusalem, with a grenade in his pocket. He proceeded to throw it into the assembly hall. David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir were among those injured. The explosion can be heard in a recording found in the National Library of Israel’s Sound Archive…

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The Happy Mistake That Gave Us the “Soup Almond”

How did a bureaucratic mix-up during Israel’s 1950s austerity period lead to one of Israel’s most unique culinary innovations? How did an Ashkenazi Jewish Passover recipe end up on the holiday table of every Jewish Israeli, and where does the distinctive yellow color of the soup almond come from? In short, here is the story of Israel’s prized “shkedei marak”

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When Shimon Peres Fantasized of an Israeli Colony in South America

In the late 1950s, relations between Israel and France were blossoming, thanks in large part to the young Director General of the Ministry of Defense, Shimon Peres. Among various collaborations, Peres raised an unusual idea: Why not settle tens of thousands of Israelis in French Guiana, a remote South American colony? Who was in favor? Who wasn’t? And what did David Ben-Gurion think of it?

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Donating Pocket Money for Jewish Refugees in Cyprus

In 1947, Britain was still holding tens of thousands of Jewish immigrants in camps in Cyprus, many of them Holocaust survivors. The children of the Yishuv joined in the aid effort, donating their pocket money and clothing so that the displaced children could stay warm in the cold winter months.

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The Yemenite Jews Who Arrived in the Holy Land in 1881

Shortly before what is known as “The First Aliyah”, a group of Jews from Yemen arrived in the Land of Israel. Several dozen Yemenite families had embarked on a long and arduous journey to settle in Jerusalem. Once there, they encountered hostility, arrogance, and deprivation on the part of their fellow Jews. Where did they turn and who came to their aid?