Birth of a Visionary

10 Iyar 5620 – May 2 1860


Theodor Herzl was born to a wealthy Jewish family in what is now part of Budapest. Well-educated and trained as a lawyer, Herzl worked as a journalist, playwright, and author based mostly in Vienna and Paris. After a failed attempt to engage Europe’s richest Jewish families in building a Jewish state, he resorted to diplomatic efforts, culminating in the first Zionist Congress, held in Basel in 1897. “In Basel,” Herzl wrote in his diary, “I created the Jewish state. If I said this out loud today, I would be greeted by universal laughter. In five years perhaps, and certainly in fifty years, everyone will perceive it” (The Diaries of Theodor Herzl, p. 224). Fifty years later was 1948.