Two Children Dancing, 1950's, colored postcard, 10 x 13.7 cm, printed in Israel, collection of Dr. Haim Grossman, Tel Aviv
The History of Greeting Cards for the Jewish New Year
September 6, 2011 - January 7, 2012
Curator: Inbar Dror Lax
For many decades, New Year's greeting cards were an inseparable part of life in Israel. Along with wishes for a good new year, the captions on these cards expressed a variety of hopes: local and world peace, the return of all Jews to their homeland, and numerous other wishes for a better life. These innocent cards of decades past, which reflected the ideals of the modern Jewish society and the nascent Israeli society, constitute an intriguing and reliable source for studying the popular ideals of the period in which they were printed. This wide range of cards is thus still relevant today - indeed, perhaps more than ever before.
The exhibition features a rich selection of cards that reflect the values and national aspirations of modern Jewish and Israeli society. This exhibition examines both the cards themselves and the customs surrounding their use, and explores this form of popular, functional art as a reflection of local society and of its changing ideals. For many generations, New Year's greeting cards were a widely popular means of communication that expressed, reflected, and shaped the formative myths of this society, and its collective self-image. As long as such myths remain relevant, they exist both explicitly and implicitly, and are part of both official and unofficial systems of communication. Their presence may take on different forms at different moments in time, and their power is directly related to their specific importance of a given myth in the context of a particular socio-cultural matrix. New Year greeting cards may thus be viewed as a fascinating example of the vicissitudes of Israel's national myths.
By examining a wide range of Happy New Year cards, this exhibition delineates the limits of representation, and calls attention both to the types of images included in this visual corpus and to those excluded from it. The range of themes examined within this framework reveals the tension inherent to these cards, and leads us to reflect on how they mirrored, whether these cards represented, shaped, or invented an ideal, imagined, and hegemonic vision of Israeli society and culture.