Childrens Games

Summer vacation is a time of fun and games. Before the age of computers and smartphones, board games played a central role in children's leisure time. What kind of games, did they play in Eretz Israel in the 20th century? Hint: they all had a touch of Zionism.
Up until the end of the 19th century, Eretz Israel had no organized gaming industry. Parents had to create their children's games. Books and newspapers occasionally carried a do-it-yourself section. In the early 1920's, manufacturers brought the first game and toys factories to the land of Israel. They produced ready-made games.
The industry started to flourish in the 1930's with the rise of experts, who immigrated from Poland, Germany, and Russia. Game creators, artists, carpenters, painters, teachers, and educators contributed to the industry. The games were based on ideas and concepts related to Judaism, Zionism and the Land of Israel. They presented pictures and paintings of sites of Eretz Israel, and national myths, such as "historical land", "fatherland" and "cradle of the nation".
The largest, most important gaming agent was the JNF. It spread the ideas of Zionism and settlement of the land, by various means to a wide audience in Eretz Israel and the Diaspora. Their game productions involved various entities; printing houses, graphic artists etc.  Alternatively, entrepreneurs would offer their inventions and productions to the JNF. Those games were subsequently adapted, translated, and distributed by the JNF.
Despite their persistence, game publishing was a short-lived campaign, unlike the more traditional promotions, such as stamps or "blue box".
With the establishment of the State of Israel, the toy and game industry grew and developed independently and the JNF's involvement became less significant.
'A Journey in Palestine', French version, 1927 (KRA\54)
A game designed for KKL-JNF by Oscar Levy and marketed in Eretz Israel and around the world. At the end of the 1930's, various versions of the track game. In this game, with the trail drawn over the map of Palestine, the players were tourists who arrived at the port of Jaffa and had to reach the endpoint, the port of Haifa, by throwing a dice. The attached cards provided vast information about the various points and thus improved the children's knowledge of the Land of Israel.
'Culture of Light', 1935 (KKL5\6202)
A game of knowledge. Its creator is unknown. However, we know, he immigrated to Palestine from Germany, and proposed marketing of his product to the JNF. The game consists of a board, on which "question and answer" sheets are placed. The electrical contacts, when placed appropriately, light a small light bulb. The trivia includes questions on Jewish books, authors and institutions, the world Zionist organizations, leaders, the JNF and customs practiced in the Land of Israel.
Craft models, 1937 (KKL5\7482)
Art and crafts models created by 'Roshkovitz and Strim' from Tel Aviv. The player colors, cuts and builds various models of places, such as the Tel Aviv Port, the Temple of Solomon, a kibbutz, etc. The leaflet reads: "Build the land! A new way to acquire knowledge of Palestine!". The building experience conveys a message of partnership and emphasizes the importance of building the land and its important places.
אוסף דברי הדפוסאוסף דברי הדפוס
Sticker Album, 'Police and Sports', 1940 (Printed Materials Collection)
A sticker album, issued by the Dubek cigarette company in Tel Aviv, invited the children to collect pictures of Dubek's cigarette packages and paste them into the album, which was distributed throughout the country. The album is divided into three topics: HaMishmar (Jewish police force), Jewish sports (athletics, competitive games, fencing and more), and the capture of land by land and air. The beautiful images glorified the Jewish settlement's enterprise to such an extent, that the British forbade the distribution of some of them.
Lotto of the Yishuv and the Land, 1945 (DD1\10806)
A game distributed by the JNF and created by Yaakov Zadek in Tel Aviv. Zadek immigrated to Israel from Poland in the 1940's and initiated a lottery game, which included valuable information on the various settlements in Palestine. The aim of the game was to create a line sequence or fill the board with the names of kibbutzim, moshavim, cities etc.
The Wheel of Knowledge, 1946 (DD1\6743)
A game produced by the JNF with paintings by Walter Hertz. Composed of two wheels, which connect by an axis in the middle. By rotating the discs, data information on the JNF settlements, like name, place, etc., is revealed. Printed in London, but based on a game created in Eretz Israel by Yaakov Zadek called 'The Yishuv in a circle'.
אוסף דברי הדפוס 
'Jerusalem ahead: a tour through the Road of Courage', 1951 (Printed Materials Collection)
A track game created by the Keren Hayesod, in which each player tries to reach Jerusalem first, by moving through various locations in Israel. 'The road of Courage', paved during the War of Independence, enabled traffic from the coastal plain to Jerusalem, after the main road was blocked in the Latrun area. It became a symbol of heroism and hope to reach Jerusalem.