The flag Rebecca Affachiner, known as the “Betsy Ross of Israel,” made and first flew after David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the state of Israel on May 14, 1948, has come home to the Ben-Gurion Archives at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev’s Sede Boker campus after being donated by Jerusalem collector Ezra Gorodesky in honor of Israel’s 70th birthday.
Affachiner left the flag to Gorodesky upon her death in 1966. He asked his friend Rabbi David Geffen, a former Atlantan and frequent AJT contributor, to help find a permanent home for the flag, and Rabbi Geffen made the connection to the university through another friend, Toni Young, the president of American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
“I am incredibly honored to be a link in this chain of Americans who created, preserved and understood the value of this flag,” Young said.
Affachiner made aliyah in the 1930s and refused to leave Jerusalem in 1948, despite the recommendation of an American diplomat.
Confined to her apartment on Jabotinsky Street and unable to buy supplies, she created an Israeli flag from her bedsheets. She sewed on a six-pointed star and colored the stripes with a blue crayon.
When Affachiner heard Ben-Gurion proclaim the formation of the state, she went onto her balcony, within sight of Egyptian forces, and hung her flag.
She flew the flag from her balcony on Yom HaAtzmaut every year until her death.
Gorodesky made aliyah in the early 1960s, and Rabbi Geffen followed in the mid-1970s.
“Rebecca’s original Israel flag is an excellent addition to the Ben-Gurion Archives,” said Paula Kabalo, the director of the Ben-Gurion Research Institute for the Study of Israel and Zionism. “It will be displayed with Ben-Gurion’s diaries.”