Tuesday, May 2, 2017
One hundred and twenty years ago, Theodore Herzl wrote in his diary after the First Zionist Congress, “At Basel, I founded the Jewish State.” He readily acknowledged that this statement would be met with universal laughter. And yet, only 51 years intervened between that first Congress and the State of Israel’s Declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948.
What began as an evanescent movement – many of whose most ardent supporters never believed that the object of Jewish sovereignty in the British mandate of Palestine would be achieved in their lifetime- became a national movement that shaped a society and nation and built a dynamic, democratic modern state. The re-establishment in 1948 of a sovereign nation in the land of their ancestors reversed a long history of wandering in the diaspora, expulsions and pograms, insecurity and powerlessness. Rising like a Phoenix from the ashes of the Holocaust, with an ingathering of Jews from all four corners of the world and multivalent cultures, Israel was a collective affirmation of 2,000 years of hopes and dreams,memories and prayers.