Treasure Trove: David Matlow explains how this stag became the symbol for the Israeli mail system

Isadore Schalit(1871-1953) was one of Theodor Herzl’s first assistants and a main organizer of the First Zionist Congress in Basel in 1897. He opened all of the Zionist Congresses through to the 23rd Congress in Jerusalem in 1951 by knocking a hammer on the chairman’s table. Schalit moved to Palestine in 1938

This is Schalit’s mailbox which features a running stag, the symbol of Israel’s postal system. The stag was selected because of its close relation to the gazelle, which in biblical times was used to deliver messages attached to its horns. The Patriarch Jacob gave blessings to each of his twelve sons with the blessing to Naftali being “Naftali is a gazelle-like messenger, he delivers pleasant sayings.”

The logo was created by the Shamir Brothers who in 1935 immigrated to Palestine from Latvia. In addition to designing postage stamps and advertisements for consumer goods and cigarettes, the Shamir Brothers drafted the visual symbols of Israeli sovereignty and independence. As well as the running stag, they designed Israel’s state emblem (the menorah between olive branches) and the 1958 series of Israel’s banknotes.

There was a time when communication from Israel was primarily by physical letters. Today, of course, news from Israel comes by email, social media, on television or by Zoom, through phone calls, webinars and podcasts. Whatever news we receive and however we receive it, let’s hope it is like the messages Naftali delivered—pleasant sayings. In other words, we should hear only good news from Israel from now on.