The Russian Czar Alexander II was assassinated in 1881 bringing over 20 years of vicious pogroms against the Jews in Poland and Russia. Millions of Polish and Russian Jews left but mostly North America with some 50,000 of them leaving to Israel. This group became known as the First Aliyah. They called themselves Hovevei Tziyon—the Lovers of Zion. They organized a conference in Katowice in 1884 but not much came of their efforts. In Western Europe, the Dreyfus trial was taking place and while the Jews of Western Europe were largely emancipated, they were not accepted.
Theodor Herzl, a Hungarian lawyer living in Vienna became a journalist and covered the Dreyfus trial. He found out that his university fraternity disallowed Jewish membership and he quit the fraternity. When he was told that it was not Jews like him that they did not want, he responded that those “other” Jews are his brothers and if they can’t belong to the fraternity, neither can he.
Two other events influenced Herzl. The mayor of Vienna, Mr. Luger, was elected on an Antisemitic platform and a German philosopher Eugene During wrote about race theories claiming that Jews are of an inferior race and Germans are of a higher race.
Herzl realized that Jews must leave Europe to core it of its Antisemitic problems.
He went to speak to Barons Hersch and Rothschild to gain financial support but he failed. He then went to the “People” and called the First Zionist Congress in Basle on August 29, 1897. On the second night of the Congress wrote in his diary: “In Basle I created the Jewish State. If I were to say so now, everyone would laugh at me but in 5 or 10 years but surely in 50 years, there will be a Jewish State. Indeed Herzl’s prophecy came true. On November 29, 1947 the United Nations voted to divide Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state known as the Partition Plan.
It is the reenactment of Herzl’s life story that the students saw this morning in the Herzl Museum on Mount Herzl. The guide asked them several questions an when they answered every question, she said: “you know it all so there is no need for further questions, go right in.”
From the museum, we visited the various sections of the military cemetery. We saw Herzl’s grave, the prime ministers’ graves and the graves of several soldiers. We also visited the grave of Jason Friedberg, a graduate of Hebrew Foundation School and Herzliah High School who enlisted and was murdered in a terror attack.
We took pictures at the Menorah in the Knesset and supported the economy at the Ben Yehudah Mall.
We concluded the day with a great summative activity conducted by Chen, our guide, and went to our rooms to pack for our trip back on Monday.
See you all at school on Tuesday morning.
Thank you to Chani, Jonathan, Chen and our wonderful chaperones.
It was a great trip with well behaved and very knowledgeable students.
Please follow our flight for arrival times. We have a short amount of time to make it from our international flight to our Montreal-Toronto flight. Check your email for updates as we rush to our last leg of the trip.