By Ezra Fried
I saw her lying all crumpled on the bargain table of Sullivan’s department store in Liberty, New York. I paid one dollar for her. She was a 5-foot, regulation-size Israeli flag. It was the summer of 1971 and I was a 15-year-old waiter in a frum camp (the word “chareidi” wasn’t used yet.)
My blue-and-white beauty was dusty, creased, and in need of a good wash. So, I washed her along with my laundry and hung her out to dry in front of my bunkhouse. After a short while, the flag was fluttering proudly on the clothesline.
The scene began to cause a stir. The camp director ran over to the clothesline, pulled down the flag, and crumpled her into a heap. He demanded to know who put a “Tzioni” flag on his clothesline. I told him the flag was mine and that I wanted it back. He replied that I would never see the flag again. On the last day of camp, when I asked him for it, he returned it to me.
The flag adorned the closet door in my room at home and spent several summers with me in camp (inside my bunkhouse, of course). During my college years, my flag accompanied me to many “Free Soviet Jewry” rallies. The flag joined my wife and me as we started our life together.
Fast-forward a dozen years–the flag hung on the wall above the bed in the room of Tzachi, our oldest son, for many years, into his adulthood. It fluttered proudly outside the bedroom window of our sons Uri and Yoni on many a Yom HaAtzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim. It was one of the few flags that flew in our Flatbush neighborhood.
Last summer, July 2012, Uri made aliyah, and a month later, Tzachi, together with his wife Shulie and our three beautiful grandchildren, made aliyah as well.
Also making aliyah was our blue-and-white flag. This year on Yom HaAtzmaut, it fluttered proudly in front of Tzachi’s new home in Ramat Bet Shemesh. Uri is flying a new flag on his army base–he is serving in the IDF. Our children and our flag have returned home. We are very proud. v