I&A.com: You’ve Got Mail

Original Article Published On The Jerusalem Post

Once upon a time, “You’ve got mail” meant that the postman actually delivered a letter to your home mailbox. I remember the excitement when someone actually sent a letter from a foreign country!

Once, my bubbeh gave me an envelope from a distant cousin in Argentina, and a postcard from an aunt from a Caribbean island. The Disney stamps from Grenada were a wonderful addition to my collection, but nothing was as exciting for us in the U.S. as a letter with a stamp from Israel. Israel has been putting out stamps since before there was even a state. For a comprehensive history of the Israeli postal service, go to http://www.postil.com

It includes (somewhat dated) statistics on pieces of mail handled (from 373 million in 1987 to 632 million in 1997), waiting time at post offices (“the nationwide average length of time waiting in line deceased from 9 minutes in 1987 to 4 minutes in 1997”), and the encouraging, and perhaps accurate, statement that the average delivery time for a domestic Israeli letter in 1997 was 1.5 days, down from 2.5 days in 87.) If you prefer stamps to statistics, you’ll find a comprehensive (and up-to-date) listing of stamp issues.

Since last Passover, the Israel Postal Authority has issued stamps on such numerous diverse themes as teddy bears, Armenian ceramics, skateboarding and Rollerblading, the 1st and 2nd Aliyah, olive oil in Israel, A.D. Gordon, the centenary of Atlit, Red Sea Fish and, most recently, Ilan Ramon, the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, and three historians, including Emanuel Ringelblum. You can visit the website of the Postal and Philatelic Museum, in Tel Aviv’s Eretz Israel Museum, at http://www.israel.org And the Krause-Minkus Standard Catalog of Israel Stamps (available by a quick search at http://www.amazon.com) lists more than 1,500 regular, commemorative and airmail stamps in chronological order, printed between 1948-1999. You can also try the philatelic supersite, http://www.cbel.com Israel appears twice, with links to sites for the Israel Philately Federation (http://www.israelphilately.org.il) and the Society of Israel Philatelists (http://www.israelstamps.com).

For older stamps and info on the Palestine Philatelic Society, go to http://www.palestinestamps.com This site offers links to the Ottoman period, the British Mandate, the Egyptian Administration of Palestine, the Jordanian Administration of Palestine, the PLO and the Palestinian National Authority. But if you’re primarily interested in recent Israelis stamps, another place to try is http://www.israelphilately.org.il There you’ll learn about “Telabul,” a trade fair being held at the Tel Aviv Convention Center from May 3-6, 2004, how to fight against fakes and forgeries, and how to obtain the souvenir leaf of the 17th Conference of Israeli Philatelists. The site gives phone numbers, meeting places and addresses of at least 27 Philatelic Society chapters in Israel, from Beersheba to Karmiel to Ariel. These groups apparently hang on to tradition: Their snail-mail addresses, but not e-mail, are listed on the site.

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