Shalom Life | February 01, 2015

Postcard from Einstein's Sole Trip to Israel Sells At Auction

Almost a century after the physicist's trip to the Holy Land, postcard sells for $56,000

By: Daniel Koren

Published: January 30th, 2015 in Business » Israel

Photo: The postcard sold for $56,250

Credit: RR Auction


Nearly a century after iconic physicist Albert Einstein made his first, and only, visit to pre-state Israel in 1923, a postcard he wrote has been sold at an RR Auction in Boston for some $56,250.

RR Auction had other Einstein memorabilia up for sale as well, including a few photographs.

Purchased by an anonymous bidder, Einstein wrote the postcard in 1923 to Zionist leader Authur Ruppin during his 12-day tour of the Holy Land. In it, the famous physicist recalls his commitment to Zionism, following his groundbreaking theory of general relativity years earlier.

Throughout the postcard, Einstein speaks of his trip to Palestine with fondness, recalling the "unforgettable days" and "cheerful company" he encountered in Jerusalem. During his visit, Einstein was treated as a celebrity, with swarms of crowd often following him as he toured the country.

The postcard also features a rare comical self-portrait of Einstein, and also a sketch of Ruppin's wife Hanna, who accompanied him on the trip, alongside Einstein's second wife Elsa. Many argue that the highlight of their historical trip was when Einstein gave the inaugural lecture at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

For years, Einstein was an advocate of establishing the first Jewish university, and of Zionism in general.

Writing of that day, Einstein said “Hitherto I have always found something to regret in the Jewish soul, and that is the forgetfulness of its own people — forgetfulness of its being, almost. This is a great age, the age of liberation of the Jewish soul, and it has been accomplished through the Zionist movement, so that no one in the world will be able to destroy it.”

During his visit to Tel Aviv, Einstein received honorary citizenship from Mayor Meir Dizengoff. “I have already had the privilege of receiving honorary citizenship of the city of New York, but I am tenfold happier to be a citizen of this beautiful Jewish town,” Einstein said to the crowd. As one of the first modern Israeli cities, Einstein was also pleased to encounter many German-speaking Jews.

“The accomplishments of the Jews in just a few years in this city arouse the highest admiration,” Einstein wrote in a diary entry dated February 8th. “An incredibly active people, our Jews…”

Such Einstein memorabilia like his postcard from Israel has been selling like hotcakes over the last few years, including a bible that was signed by him and his wife in 1932 - which went for $68,500 at a New York auction, as well as a signed version of the infamous photo of him where he's smiling with his tongue sticking out, which went for $125,000 at an RR Auction last September.

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