Why this Flag?
There is a 300 year old history of Simchat Torah flags and why they carry the designs they do. In October of 2011, the Eretz Yisrael Museum in Tel Aviv held an exhibition of simchat Torah flags starting in 1940 with the establishment of the State of Israel. The flags were a microcosm of the changes that Israel has been through in the last 60+ years.
Our flag is also representative of change. Last year, some of our congregations were looking for Simchat Torah flags and voiced their frustration that they could only find flags that were relevant to the orthodox Jewish world. We needed a flag that is inclusive of disabilities, gender, ethnicity – representing all of the Jewish people. And so, we created one.
Almost all of the countries where there is an active Masorti community are represented on our flag. There are even more countries with Masorti kehillot that aren’t on the flag, only because we didn’t have the space! The blue Torah in the center of the flag is a Sephardi Torah which is housed in a box like case. This Torah is read by Jews of Sephardi origin (such as Morocco or Spain) and is read from the case with the Torah standing up! This goes to prove that the Jewish people is an international one with common values, a common Torah and an unbreakable link one to the other.
The Torah cover on the left side read: “Ki Mitzion Tetzei Torah” – from Zion [Israel] shall come forth Torah. One of the links of course that binds us all together is the state of Israel. Our movement is a Zionist one and it is important to us that Israel is a part of each holiday and of our daily religious life. That is why the Israeli flags sits in the middle in a place of honor, larger than the others. Wherever Jews live they have always turned their hearts and support toward Israel.
The banner reads “sisu v’simchu b’Simchat Torah” a favorite song of this holiday. But why Hebrew? Why not English? Or German? Or Spanish? Hebrew is the common language of Jews and of the State of Israel. Even if we aren’t in our homes, we can feel at home when we hear the familiar sounds of prayers being chanted in Hebrew. And we can always greet our fellow Jews wherever they live with a wish for Shalom.
The Aron Kodesh or Ark is a familiar site at synagogues around the world. Written on the aron kodesh are the words “darcheha darchei noam” – all of its [The Torah’s] paths, are paths of peace. Usually, we would write the word “noam” without the vav – just nun – ayin – mem sofit. But it is a secret clue to our own NOAM OLAMI youth movement. Can you spot our NOAM Olami members in their green shirts? Whether you are in USY, NOAM UK or NOAM in Latin America, NOAM Olami connects our youth builds next generation’s leaders.
Even though the look of the flag may be retro, the values are what we expect to see in our modern day kehillot. A group of grandparents, parents and children dancing together in a circle that represents the passing of our tradition from one to another. No one is excluded – all are included regardless of race, gender or disability. On the left side of the flag, you see parents looking on and participating joyfully as their children continue the tradition of celebrating the Torah and their Jewish identities. On the right side, you see generations even further back, from Herzl, who looks on in pleasure to see the centrality of the State of Israel in our hearts and minds – to Moses who gave us the Torah – to Miriam who always led the Jewish people in song and in joy.
This flag would not have been possible without the support and partnership of the World Zionist Organization and the ongoing participation in all of our projects.
Thank you also to all of the rabbis and lay leaders who gave us feedback and ideas about the design.
Thank you to our illustrator and designer , Ksenia Topaz, who was forever patient in helping us create our vision . You can see more of Ksenia’s work here: kseniatopaz.com
Many thanks to Marcus Frieze, Hillary Gordon and Tehila Reubens in our office and to Miri from Ronit Flags.
Masorti Olami builds, renews and strengthens Conservative/Masorti Jewish life throughout the world, with efforts that focus on existing and developing communities in Europe, Latin America, the Former Soviet Union, Africa, Asia and Australia.
MERCAZ Olami is the Zionist organization of the world Masorti/Conservative Movement. We promote and support Zionist education, Israel programs and aliyah in our movement and work to enhance the quality of Jewish life in Israel. We believe in the centrality of Israel in the life and consciousness of the Jewish People and the unity of the Jewish People wherever they may live.