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Israel Bonds Records

Identifier: Mss 278

Scope and Contents

Researchers studying the Israel Bonds Records will gain insight into how the Atlanta community supports Israel. The records are arranged in alphabetical order. There are several files of unidentified and miscellaneous photos.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1956 - 1983

Conditions Governing Access

The Breman Museum charges a nominal fee for the use of photographs.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply. Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

The idea to float bonds issued by Israel's government was conceived by Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, in the aftermath of Israel's War of Independence. The war had taken a terrible toll in casualties (more than 1% of the country's population was killed), and the nation's fledgling economy was devastated.

Compounding the dire situation was the fact that Israel faced economic demands unique to the new state, most especially the arrival of hundreds of thousands of immigrants. In Israel's early years, immigrants generally fell into two categories: Holocaust survivors and Jewish refugees from Arab countries. For Holocaust survivors, the journey to Mandate Palestine prior to Israel's independence had been extremely perilous. The British patrolled the coastline, maintained a blockade to prevent entry, stopped many ships, and sent the passengers to displaced persons camps in Europe. On May 15, 1948, the end of the British Mandate and the establishment of Israel removed all impediments to immigration. As a result, a large portion of the surviving remnant of European Jewry quickly set sail for Israel.

Meanwhile, Jews from throughout the Middle East, who fled, were expelled, or were rescued through missions such as Operation Magic Carpet, added to the enormous influx of immigrants. Israel's chronic lack of funds forced the government to settle the wave of immigrants in primitive shelters. Food was scarce and strictly rationed.

With his country financially overwhelmed, Ben-Gurion turned to the Diaspora community for help. In September 1950, he convened a meeting of American Jewish leaders at Jerusalem's King David Hotel, where he proposed issuing bonds to help provide Israel with a more secure economic foundation. Ben-Gurion's goals were two-fold: to obtain millions of dollars in funding for immigrant absorption and the construction of national infrastructure, and to engage Diaspora Jewry as active partners in building the new Jewish state.

The American Jewish leaders supported Ben-Gurion's plan and, the following spring, the prime minister traveled to New York to help launch the inaugural Independence Issue at a gala Madison Square Garden ceremony. Expectations for first-year sales were $25 million. Instead, final results for 1951 more than doubled projections, exceeding $52 million. The new organization increasingly expanded operations throughout the US and Canada, providing proceeds utilized to help fund projects in Israel's industrial and agricultural sectors, including the Dead Sea Works and National Water Carrier.

Within six years, according to an article in the January 21, 1957, issue of Time magazine, "bond sales alone amounted to an astonishing 35% of Israel's special development budget. Over subsequent decades, sales continued to increase, particularly in times of crisis. During 1967's Six-Day War, sales exceeded $250 million a mark that more than doubled during the Yom Kippur War of 1973. From the mid-1980s to 1992, Israel bonds were the major source of external net borrowings by the Government of Israel. In 1991, the year of the Persian Gulf War and Iraqi missile strikes on Israel, annual sales broke the $1 billion threshold.


1 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The records represent a historical perspective of how the Atlanta community has fundraised for the State of Israel bonds. With the help of Jewish Atlanta proceeds realized through the sale of Israel Bonds have helped cultivate the desert, build transportation networks, create new industries, resettle immigrants, and increase export capability. Today, investing in Israel bonds support a nation of extraordinary innovation that continues to push the boundaries of modern technology. The records contain programs and invitations to various dinners and events to support the State of Israel.


Files are arranged in alphabetical order.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Demece Harvey in December 2013. It was entered into ArchivesSpace by Lindsay Resnick in July 2020.

Israel Bonds Records, Mss 278
Demece Harvey
December 2013
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum Repository

1440 Spring St. NW
Atlanta Georgia 30309 United States