Theodor Herzl is known as the father of political Zionism. Zionism is a belief that Jews should have a homeland in what is now Israel. Herzl was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1860. When he was eighteen, he and his family moved to Vienna, Austria. In 1884, Herzl received a doctorate of law from the University of Vienna. However, he did not stick with law and became a correspondent for the Vienna newspaper Neue Freie Presse (New Free Press).
In 1894, Captain Alfred Dreyfus was accused of treason just because he was Jewish. This was a big court case so Theodor Herzl was sent to Paris to cover the case for the Neue Freie Presse. While there, he and the other newspaper correspondents realized how unfair the case was. It was clear that Dreyfus was not guilty and that he was put on trial due to anti- Semitism. Before the Dreyfus Affair, Herzl was a secular Jew who did not strongly identify with his faith. After being in the courtroom, hearing all the Frenchmen screaming “death to the Jews,” He came to the conclusion that the Jews should have a land of their own. When he returned from Paris, Herzl decided to devote himself to create an independent Jewish state.
Herzl believed that the only way to create a Jewish state was through political means. He approached political leaders throughout Europe as well as Jewish financiers in order to seek their support. Although Herzl was turned down many times, he was very resilient and never gave up. After about two years of not being successful, Herzl then decided to write his plan in a pamphlet that he named “The Jewish State.” After this pamphlet was published, many European Jews became interested in what Herzl had to say. One year later, in 1897, the First World Zionist Congress came together in Basel, Switzerland. “It was the first time that Jews from different nations has ever met with a political agenda (Theodor Herzl).” There were many philosophical differences between each of the representatives, but they all concurred that the Jews needed to establish an independent Jewish Nation. At the congress, Theodor Herzl was elected president and they set due rates and decided to meet once a year.
While Herzl was finding his way in the Zionist world another Zionist was making his mark in modern day Israel. Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hacohen Kook was born in Griva, Latvia in 1865. He is credited as being the father of Religious Zionism. In 1904, Rabbi Kook was appointed as the first Ashkenazic chief Rabbi of what is now Israel. Among other things, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hacohen Kook was also a philosopher and a Talmudic scholar.
At the age of eighteen, Kook studied at the Volozhin yeshiva. Although he only stayed for a year and a half, he would study for more than eighteen hours a day. While serving as a rabbi in Boisk, Lithuania, Rabbi Kook published an essay on Zionism. “In the essay, he argued that modern Jewish nationalism, even at its most secular, expresses the divinity within the Jewish soul and signifies the...