June 23, 2010

Israeli-made Bhutanese flags for Bhutanese refugees

Please deliver these flags to your friends in Atlanta, the Bhutanese refugees about whom you speak so fondly. May they be respected, supported, and encouraged as they move forward in their lives, going from strength to strength.
— Yehudit Weizman-Liman

The day I left Israel to return to Atlanta last month, I stopped by the Weizman-Liman Flag Store in Tel Aviv (at the corner of Allenby and Brenner Streets). My twofold mission — to exchange goodbye hugs with my proprietor-friends, Yehudit and Yisrael Liman, and to pick up their gifts for the Bhutanese refugee community in Atlanta.

In October 1938, just months after the Anschluss, or annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany, Nachman Weizman left his native Vienna with his wife and two small children (Yehudit was less than two years old) for Mandatory Palestine. There, he borrowed a sewing machine, bought white fabric, sewed a doctor's coat, and presented it as a work sample to Hadassah Hospital, then on Balfour Street. From the hospital's first work order, Weizman's business grew to include uniforms for the British Navy, raincoats for utility workers, winter coats for postal workers, and more. On May 14, 1948, in a public ceremony in Tel-Aviv when David Ben-Gurion read the Israeli Declaration of Independence declaring the establishment of the State of Israel flanking him were two vertical Israeli flags, hanging from ceiling to floor that Nachman Weizman had prepared. After his death, Yehudit headed up the business that had already shifted focus from uniforms to flags of all nations in all sizes and for all occasions. 

In the front office, Yehudit engages with customers
by phone, in person, and via email and fax

Pausing in her work to greet me with her usual warm smile, kiss, and hug, Yehudit stepped into the adjoining workshop where Carmela was sewing flags from bolts of fabric measured and cut.

There, Yehudit wrapped the five Bhutanese flags she had prepared for me to deliver to five Atlanta Bhutanese families. Later, among the lucky ones, the Sharmas and Ghimireys, posed with their gifts. (Pabitra Rizal posed with her gift flag and shared her refugee journey here.)

Holding their new flag, Rhea and Rewaj Sharma —
born in a refugee camp in Nepal to Bhutanese refugees

American-born Ryan watches Tulasi Ghimirey, his dad, who
changed into Bhutanese garb to honor his homeland flag

Yehudit has invited me twice before to be her emissary — donating Israeli flags to honor elders, country, and faith, and gifting my friend Josh Gomes when he was scoring basketball points for Israel. Her deep faith and ethical values drive these deeds of loving kindness.

Refugees, neighbors, volunteers, friends, and flags connect us to our histories, homelands, memories, and cultures. And, to each other.

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Tulasi Ghimirey said...

Dear Tamar,

Well come back to Atlanta. I opened your blog and saw the picture of Bhutan flag dancing so happily in Yehudit Liman's hand.

Thanks for spreading our news of our struggle and hope. Thanks for visiting the flag store---for me this is not only a flag store but a UNITED NATION. A presidential salute for WEIZMAN and all his family who kept this store as a living memory for him.

Today, beautiful flags of Bhutan with a holy spirit of this great Liman-Weizman family of Israel are in Atlanta.

The flags have a great value coz they are made with love, kindness, cheerfulness, and lots of past and present memories of Weizman family, Bhutan, Bhutanese Refugees, Tamar's visit to Israel (and the long blog post Tamar wrote, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, EEMA. WHERE ARE YOU?).

It is said that you have to pray always. If you don't have time than you have to write the prayers on the flag and hang on top of the mountain. Every time the flag flutters the prayer is spoken itself. This will bring peace and happiness to all the souls both departed and alive, your community, your neighbour, and your country.

With much respect,

Yedhudit said...

We can make a person happy with such a small deed.

The pictures are beautiful, thanks.

m said...