One summer, when I was 18 years old, I was surprised to receive a package in the post with my passport in it. I was not expecting a new passport, I already had one, and it was not due to run out for a good few years. It seems that my less than responsible 18-year-old self hadn’t noticed that she left the document somewhere in London. As luck would have it, rather than just leave it where it was, or sell it, or use it to steal my identity – or worse! – whoever found it handed it in somewhere, and my passport made its way back to my parents’ home in north London. It was accompanied by a firm letter from the British Home Office telling me that I should be more careful with important documents in the future.
I was reminded of this fortunate incident when reading through November 1938 editions of the Tel Aviv-based daily Davar. In its Tel Aviv section, usually on the back page, lost property was often a feature, along with local news and announcements of things to do in the seaside town, which numbered around 160,000 residents at the time (approximately one third of Palestine’s Jewish population lived there).
For example, on 8th November, a Menashe Neiman, whose “certificate of citizenship” was found in a place unspecified in the ad, was invited to come and pick it up at the newspaper’s offices, “next to the telephone.”
On 16th November , the owner of a “package in a small white bag with clothes in it” left on a Drom Yehuda bus travelling from Tel Aviv appealed to readers to return it to the Drom Yehuda offices, either in Tel Aviv or Rishon Letzion.
And on November 14th, the owner of a wallet lost in “Maavir car number 13,” which contained “a sum of money,” appealed to the finder of the wallet to return it to the offices of Davar.
My personal favourite is the “ladies watch” that was found somewhere on the streets of Tel Aviv. However, having trawled through the editions a number of times, I cannot for the life of me find the ad again.