Nowadays when people talk about mail, it's pretty obvious they're talking about e-mail, but even in today's technological age, snail mail is still in use, be it letters, packages or other services. Few people actually use their local letter box, you know, that big shiny red box outside the post office. Up until recently, mail boxes were scattered all overthe city and emptied on a regular basis. These days the only place you can find one is near a post office. 

If you send letters via the post office branchat Jaffa Gate, you should know that you are actually using his Royal Highness King George the V's letter box, rather than the Israel Postal Company's. 

The Israel Postal Service took over from the British mandate's postal service, which stopped its activity entirely ten days prior to the end of the mandate in May 1948. 15 mail centers, approximately 100 branches and thousands of His Majesty's letter boxes stopped providing vital services all at once. An official notice was published on April the 13th andleadership of the Yishuv immediately set to the task of finding an alternative solution.  For a fortnight, between the 2nd and14th of May, the JNF (Jewish National Fund) manufactured "Doar Minhelet Ha'Am" stamps.

Minhelet Ha'Am was the temporary form of government between the British mandate and the founding of the State of Israel.The Jewish postal workers kept all 80 branches throughout the country active and British regulations and postal rates were maintained up until the declaration of the State of Israel on May the 14th. Minhelet Ha'Amceased to exist and two days later the very first series of Hebrew postal stamps was printed.

The Israeli postal service led by David Remezbegan its activity on the 16th of May to the same regulations set bythe British mandate. The day the State of Israel was founded there were about 40 postal centers and 60 branches and agencies throughout the country. In 1950Israel joined the Universal Postal Union and in 1971 the Ministry of Postagechanged its name to the Ministry of Communications.

The emblem of the Israel Postal service is a"doe set free", taken from Genesis 49:21, being the simile describing Naphtali as nimble and fleet. This symbol set on a red background has been thepostal service's emblem to this very day, as seen on each letter box and branch. Or has it? If you live in the old city and needpostal services, you'll probably turn to the branch in the Jewish quarter orthe main one near Jaffa Gate, not far from the Kishle. Any letter placed inthese letter boxes won't have a clue that the mandate is over, nor that it willbe conveyed through a postal system run by the State of Israel.  

These fully active letter boxes are those of King George V, King of England from 1810-1936, and to this very day the British crownstill stands proud in the center of the letter boxes, the same as anywhere else throughout the British Empire.
Above the letter slot still stands the reliefin bold font in the Queen's English: "POST OFFICE’’. King George V was kind enough to leave us 4 more letter boxes in the old city but these days they are not active and used asrubbish bins that no one bothers to empty. One of these boxes can be found on Ha'Shalshelet Street between the Ha'Kotel Street and Ha'Guy Street. The royal crownis indented in the center of the box with the letters G R (George Rex) on either side.  

The next boxis on the most famous street in the world, known to any Christian tourist whoever set foot in Jerusalem: the Via Dolorosa. You'll find the box bearing thecrown and the initials GR near the 3rd station on the wall of theAustrian inn ("The Hospice").

Unfortunately, the only parcels posted at the moment are cigarette butts.
Pilgrims continuing from the 3rd station to the 8th will have the opportunity to spot yet another box, this one bearing no obvious characteristic and strangely painted black. Providing from that point they carry on towards the Greek Orthodox Patriarch, the Church ofSt. Peter, they will once again encounter the unattractive sight of a neglected old letter box.  

So what do we suggest? Those presumptuously investingin the old city's cleanliness have a decision to make. Either have this abomination removed from the streets, or (and this is the preferred choice) investing a drop of anti-rust red paint, seal the box off and add an inscription saying: "letter box from the time of the British mandate". This willbe far more respectful, as well as an additional piece of history to show the tourists.  

After completing this article the Jerusalem Development Authority announced that they will indeed restore the letterboxes.While writing these lines a quote was handed in and hopefully we'll soon beable to enjoy the newly restored monuments.