Although South Plainfield’s once thriving Jewish community has dispersed, the Israeli Philatelic Agency of North America continues to serve stamp collectors out of its office at 161 Helen St.
The IPANA office, a division of the New York City-based Inter-Governmental Philatelic Corporation, opened in South Plainfield in 1949. The agency’s longtime director, Sammy Berger, told NJ Jewish News that requests for the Israeli stamps come in from all over America via phone, e-mail, or the good old postal service.
Right now, IPANA has its focus on Hadassah, the Jewish women’s philanthropic Zionist organization, which is celebrating its centennial this year. The Israel Postal Company, the state-owned corporation that handles the country’s mail services, has issued a stamp specially designed to mark the occasion, and the South Plainfield agency is the source for all North American buyers.
The official launch date for the stamp is Sept. 4. Berger is expecting about 1 percent of their 250,000 regular clients to order the stamp, along with additional demand from Hadassah members and supporters.
“I think they print about one million,” Berger said. “We hope to have enough inventory to supply our regular clients and new collectors — but once we sell out, that’s it, they’re gone.” Or, rather, they move to the re-sale market for older stamps run by IPANA’s affiliate, the Ideal Stamp Company.
Sami Alkalay, a fund-raiser for Hadassah Hospital, approached the Israel Postal Company about a year ago with the idea of creating a stamp to honor the 100th anniversary of the organization’s founding by Henrietta Szold. Hadassah members and the general public in Israel were invited to submit design ideas.
The winning design came from Israeli artist Zvika Roitman, who has created several previous Israeli stamps. The new stamp features a magen David-shaped complex of religious, cultural, and medical images — all elements related to Hadassah’s support of medicine, education, and Zionism. “The challenge was putting this together in a stamp that was going to be small,” said Roitman.
Individual stamps are priced at $1.75.
To learn more, or order the stamp, call 908-548-8088, or e-mail Sammy Berger at IPANA@igpc.net.