Supporting Israel in Northern California: Israel Bonds Initiatives (1950s-1960s)
To commemorate Israel Independence Day, here is a series of images selected from a collection of Israel Bonds records and photographs recently acquired by the Magnes.

The Development Corporation for Israel (Israel Bonds) was founded in 1951 to raise money from the American public for the fledgling Israeli state, which, at the time, was struggling to build an infrastructure and economy to support its growing population. The first Israel Bonds sales drive was launched in New York by David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister. Ben-Gurion's coast to coast tour of the United States would raise 52.6 million dollars by the end of 1951. The funds raised by the sale of Israel Bonds in 1951 and in subsequent years and decades were key factors in establishing a sound Israeli economy.

The collection recently acquired by the Magnes details the activities of the San Francisco office of Israel Bonds. It contains materials from the 1950s through the 1990s, including a particularly rich series of photographs documenting Israel Bonds events in San Francisco. Over the years, these events included dinners for Golda Meir and Eleanor Roosevelt as well as Women's Division fashion shows.

In this image: Cary Grant supporting Israel Bonds initiatives, undated photograph (Courtesy of Marlene Simenow, wjhc1982-002-ar1-001).

This online presentation was created by Lara Michels as part of the "Jewish Digital Narratives" curated by Francesco Spagnolo, PhD, Director of Research at the Magnes in Berkeley, California. For more information go to

The "Jewish Digital Narratives" are part of the Jews in the Golden State program, which is supported by the Walter and Elise Haas Fund and by an Anonymous gift. The Magnes is a beneficiary of the Esther and Jacques Reutlinger Foundation, the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties and the Jewish Community Federation of the Greater East Bay.
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