The Arty Semite

Fundraising With Flowers

By Jenna Weissman Joselit

  • Print
  • Share Share

Crossposted From Under the Fig Tree

I don’t know about you, but these days, when my mailbox bulges with solicitations from just about every non-profit organization known to man, I can’t help but wonder whether there might be another way to go about it.

JNF box, collection of Avraham Goren.

The history of fundraising, after all, is the history of innovation. Think pink — pink ribbons, that is; or pledge cards with their turn-down flaps, each flap designating a specific dollar amount. And how about the Christmas and Easter seal, silent auctions, Las Vegas night?

The repertoire of fundraising devices is a capacious and imaginative one. Heading the list, at least for me, is Flower Day, a little known JNF initiative of the interwar years. Most of us associate JNF with the little blue tin collection box and the purchase and planting of trees, but flowers were also pressed into service.

“Buy a flower to make the Negev bloom,” importuning children exhorted passersby on the urban street. (Remember the scene in Woody Allen’s “Radio Days?”) For a donation of 10 cents, one would receive a flower to be pinned on a lapel, much like a boutonniere. In other iterations of Flower Day, youngsters sold packets of flower seeds to friends and family in the hope that they, just like the Jewish state, would eventually blossom.

“Zionists are progressive and democratic in their propaganda,” observed one eyewitness early in the 20th century, trotting out Flower Day as a case in point. Progressive and democratic they may have been, but floral-minded Zionists also took their cue from the growing practice within middle class circles of decorating one’s home with carnations, gladiolas, roses and tulips.

Framing the Zionist project in terms likely to appeal to an upwardly mobile audience, Flower Day both feminized and modernized the raising of funds with which to build a Jewish homeland.

Roses, anyone?


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Woody Allen, Radio Days, Jewish National Fund, JNF, Jenna Weissman Joselit, Fundraising, From Under the Fig Tree, Flower Day, Zionism

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.