Yom HaAzmaut- wearing your ideals

I probably wore this embroidered blouse every year on Israel Independence Day between seventh and twelfth grade.
Most of the girls in my school wore a variation of this blouse to celebrate Israel's birthday.  At school we would have had an assembly complete with lots of songs from the time of Israel’s birth. We may have watched a movie some years.  Certainly part of the celebrations included Israeli dancing and eating felafel in pita.
The blouse was worn to express my solidarity with Israel. My blouse came from an older sort of cousin. I believe that this particular blouse is from the late 1950’s or early 1960’s. The fitted nature of the blouse, it’s short length, meant to hit just at the waist, and the zipper in the side seam all seem to date it to that time period.
The embroidery is fairy fine. Similar blouses that were new during my high school years, the 1970’s, were made with much larger, cruder stitches. By the 1980’s similar shirts were made with machine embroidery that mimics the look of this prototypical Israeli blouse.
The history of these sorts of garments is actually pretty interesting.  Right after the Russian Revolution, dispossessed Russian aristocrats flooded Paris. Many of those Russian women were left completely impoverished by the revolution. They began to sell their handwork, re- creations of Russian peasant embroidery to Parisians.  During the 1920’s there was something of a craze for Russian style  fashions.
The founders of WIZO, faced with poverty stricken immigrants to Israel started a variety of workshops to help women be self supporting. One of those workshops was the embroidery workshop. items were embroidered and Zionists women’s organizations world wide sold those items to help support Israel.
My mother owned several scarves produced by their workshops. They were worn for fancy.

The scarf below is made out of rayon. The embroidery is fancier  and includes couched metal threads.
Housewares were also embellished with this work.
This sweet table cloth came to me by way of my cousin’s mother in law. It’s just the thing to put over the card table when you are entertaining.
Perhaps it goes on the drinks table.SAM_4118
Although I no longer wear the blouse, I always remember a room full of us wearing our embroidered blouses with blue skirts preparing to sing patriotic Israeli songs.
If you want to hear some of the songs that are playing in my head go here.

Today, one of my readers shared with me  this  photo of  a great  baby outfit.

It was purchased at WIZO in the mid 1940's for my reader's brother in law. My reader's son wore this outfit in the mid 1960's.
If you  look at the label, you will see that it reads "WIZO, Palestine"
that is Women's International Zionist organization, Palestine.
I remember some of my guy friends in elementary school wearing similar shirts on Israel Independence Day, albeit without the button-on pants. These embroidered garments helped to lift new immigrants to Israel out of poverty. The wearing of these garments in the Diaspora showed that the wearers cared about Israel. I love seeing this heirloom, a portrait of a moment.


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