Building a Nation

At the precise moment of Israel’s rebirth, war erupted. Washington Jews began working to ensure the new nation’s survival.

As Israelis fought for independence, Washingtonians raised money, collected supplies, and lobbied for political support.

The United Jewish Appeal and other organizations worked tirelessly to help Israel meet overwhelming economic and social needs. Several Washingtonians joined other American Jewish leaders in pledging to help raise $1 billion to enable Israel to build infrastructure and absorb more immigrants. A committee composed of Leo Bernstein, Abraham Kay, Joseph Cherner, and Garfield Kass selected a suitable building for the new embassy at 22nd and R Streets, NW.

Washington Zionists were also among those Americans to make aliyah (immigration to Israel).

The work in Israel has only begun.

Abraham S. Kay, 1949

Photo of Kay w/Ben Gurion

1950: Washingtonian Abraham S. Kay (right) was one of 44 American Jews invited to Israel by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion (left) to form the Development Corporation for Israel (now known as Israel Bonds).

JHSGW Collections. Gift of Jack Kay. 1998.48

photo of convalescent home

A leading philanthropist in Washington, Kay supported many projects in Israel, including the convalescent center in Naharia for disabled veterans shown here.

JHSGW Collections. Gift of Jack Kay. 1998.48

photo of Kay on Queen Mary

Prominent Washington philanthropists Dorothy and Jack Bender (left) and Naomi and Nehemiah Cohen (right) are shown here with Minnie and Abraham Kay aboard ship enroute to Israel in the 1950s.

JHSGW Collections. Gift of Jack Kay. 1998.48

Israel Bonds dinner photo

1954: Seen here at an Israel Bonds dinner are, from left to right, Paul Himmelfarb, Abraham Kay, Robert A. Philipson, Joe Cherner, Henry Montor, I.S. Turover. Seated, left to right: unknown, Herbert S. Morrison, former deputy Prime Minister of Great Britain, Robert Nathan.

Nehemiah Cohen photo

1950s: Ardent Zionist Nehemiah Cohen (right), co-founder of Giant Food, greets David Ben-Gurion.

Courtesy of the Naomi and Nehemiah Cohen Foundation.

Photo of Kravette’s canning activity from page 27 of Record

1948: Arnold Kravette (back right) and fellow members of the Zionist Organization of America sterilize and repackage canned goods in a Falls Church DGS store for shipment to Israel.

Courtesy of Sally Kravette.

Photo of Grossberg receiving pin

1956: Fannie Simson, National Chairman of Sponsors of Israel Bonds, presents Celia Grossberg (left) with the first Woman of Valor award from Israel Bonds for her efforts to encourage investment in Israel.

JHSGW Collections. Gift of Perla Fox. 1998.76

Photo of Weingrod family in Israel

1949: Carl and Doris Allentuck and daughter Leba were among the Washington Zionists to make aliyah. They are shown here at Moshav Bet Herut.

Courtesy of Eliott J. Allentuck.

Photo of Kay w/Ben Gurion
photo of convalescent home
photo of Kay on Queen Mary
Israel Bonds dinner photo
Nehemiah Cohen photo
Photo of Kravette’s canning activity from page 27 of Record
Photo of Grossberg receiving pin
Photo of Weingrod family in Israel