}

Israel’s Independence, Rhode Island Style

This weekend, while visiting a friend in D.C., I ventured for the first time to the Newseum, a 250,000-square-foot colossus that offers a window into hundreds of years of news headlines, news history and of course, the people behind the news. For a journalist, visiting this place is like unleashing a wide-eyed child in Disney World. Among other exhibits was a floor-to-ceiling wall of front pages following 9/11,  a transplanted memorial version of Tim Russert’s office and the News Corporation News History Gallery — which features front pages from major events that occurred anywhere from 1455 to the present day.

Front page of The Westerly Sun, 1948. I apologize for the poor quality of the image. The room was dark, the newspaper was behind glass, using flash was prohibited and I only had my point and shoot camera.

Front page of The Westerly Sun, 1948. I apologize for the poor quality of the image. The room was dark, the newspaper was behind glass, using flash was prohibited and I only had my point and shoot camera.

As far as Jewish things go — because this is a Jewish blog of course — I was particularly impressed by one choice made my museum curators. In that News Corp New History exhibit, the front page chosen for 1948 was thankfully a commemoration of Israel’s statehood. However, the page chosen wasn’t from The New York Times, or The Washington Post or any other major world news outlet. Rather, it was from The Westerly Sun, a regional daily based in the southern tip of Rhode Island.

Being the Zionist I am, I was of course instantly filled with pride the moment I saw that headline, “New Jewish State Proclaimed in Tel Aviv.” But after giving the yellowing newsprint a second glance, what was even more meaningful to me was the choice of that specific Rhode Island paper. Selecting a small paper from a town in the smallest state of America shows just how omnipresent Israel’s independence was in 1948. At that moment, people everywhere, from major cities to rural towns, were recognizing  the sovereignty of that tiny democratic Middle Eastern Nation — that Jewish nation. Jews throughout the Diaspora, from those in Tel Aviv to those in Rhode Island, had reason to celebrate.

And hey, Rhode Island is home to Touro Synagogue, the oldest American synagogue still standing (erected 1763), so the choice might be that much more significant.

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Sharon Udasin is a staff writer at The Jewish Week. Follow her on Twitter or e-mail her at sharon@sharonudasin.com.

7 Comments

  1. themiddle

    3/2/2010 at 2:10 pm

    This is great. Thanks!

  2. Pingback: Sharon Udasin » Blog Archive » Israel’s Independence, Rhode Island Style

  3. Tom Morrissey

    3/4/2010 at 1:04 pm

    For a native Rhode Islander, this is good to see. I remember being taken on a class trip in grade school to visit Touro Synagogue, the first time I’d been in one (and the last until (a) I acquired Jewish friends and (b) they got married).

    Rhode Island and Israel were both founded to promote religious freedom. I’m sure Israel’s founding had special resonance in the state.

    • themiddle

      3/4/2010 at 1:37 pm

      Dude, you should be going to synagogue more often.

  4. Tom Morrissey

    3/4/2010 at 2:58 pm

    Hey, at least I don’t try to get my Jewish pals to go with me to church. Now THAT would be cruel and unusual punishment.

  5. themiddle

    3/4/2010 at 3:01 pm

    We thank you for not proselytizing, and especially for not holding pogroms.

  6. Tom Morrissey

    3/4/2010 at 3:05 pm

    Not to mention my awesome persuasive powers, regularly displayed on this site.

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