While Israel gears up to celebrate its 65th birthday next week, an online project is offering its residents and supporters a chance to look back on the words, reports and documents that shaped its history.
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The Israel State Archives and the Center for Educational Technology have joined forces to create an online exhibit of 120 documents showing how Israel dealt with issues ranging from education, foreign relations, immigrant absorption, the Holocaust, justice, issues of religion and state and Arab relations. The online exhibit, entitled "From Declaration to Reality: Implementing Israel’s Declaration of Independence in the First Two Decades after the Establishment of the State — Selected Documents," traces correspondence from the state's establishment through the end of the Six-Day War. The documents include minutes from meetings of the cabinet, the Knesset, ministerial committees and other agencies; reports, memoranda and laws.
In one report, dated February 27, 1957, the Committee to Examine the Condition of Higher Education in Israel wrote to the minister of education and culture at the time, Zalman Aran.
The report read, in part: “The country is poor in natural resources and far from economic independence. Its available capital is small. Only one thing — knowledge — can make up for the lack of wealth and natural resources, and it is up to us whether it will be abundantly available or not,” the committee members wrote. “Together with the use of the latest accomplishments of practical scientists, knowledge can determine the state’s cultural and scientific level and increase productivity and manufacturing ability. Here, too, education and research are one of the main keys to solving the problem.”
Another letter published on the new website was sent by the chairman of the Hebrew Language Committee (later the president of the Hebrew Language Academy), Naftali Herz Tur-Sinai, and the secretary of the Hebrew Language Committee, Dr. Ze’ev Ben-Haim, to the members of the Hebrew Language Committee. The letter, written in August 1950, deals with the government’s request that the academy be given a purely Hebrew name and not be referred to as “academia.”
“Our earlier clarifications found that nearly all the current members opposed giving up the accepted international name on the premise that modern Hebrew could not express the entire meaning of this international name, which has been used exclusively for the supreme cultural institutions at the state level of every country in history. Nevertheless, we ask that you give your opinion on the suggestions listed below or add other ones,” they wrote. Among the proposed words were “hachamiyah, hachmonah and mehachmah” (from the Hebrew word for wisdom, hochmah).