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A year ago Zionists around the world marked the 125th anniversary of the first Zionist Congress, convened by Theodor Herzl, with a major celebration in Basel at the site of the 1897 gathering.  That Congress launched the modern Zionist movement and was not a “one-time event”.  A year later, 125 years ago this week, in late August 1898, 400 delegates met again in Basel for the Second Zionist Congress to continue the work towards founding the Jewish State.  Zionist Congresses continued to meet until the establishment of Israel in 1948 and until now to lead and guide the movement.

A few “firsts” happened at the 1898 Zionist Congress:

  • female delegates were accorded full voting rights
  • the first Zionist Congress photographs were taken
  • A Zionist flag was presented and became the precursor to the 1948 flag of the State of Israel

As American Zionist we can be proud of our connection to the 1898 Congress.  Delegates from the United States attended the Second Zionist Congress.  The noted American Zionist leader Rabbi Stephen S. Wise was the “Secretary for the English Language” in Basel and wrote about it in Harper’s Weekly magazine.  The new Zionist flag flown in Basel was originally designed in Boston in 1892 by Rabbi Jacob Baruch Askowith for a local city parade.

You can learn more about the significance of the Second Zionist Congress in materials from the Herzl Collection of David Matlow and the Center for Israel Education.

Posted in What's New, World Zionist Congress

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