When Herzl came to the Holy Land in 1898, his main purpose was to meet with German Kaiser Willheim II in order to enlist his support for the Zionist enterprise. Herzl arrived in Jerusalem in the company of several other Zionist leaders. They came by train late on a Friday afternoon.

Herzl wanted to take a horse and carriage to the hotel, which was run by Menachem Mendel Kaminitz’s son Eliezer Lippmann, but David Wolffsohn (who after Herzl’s death became President of the World Zionist Organization) told him that he couldn’t travel by horse and carriage on Shabbat because he was considered to be the King of the Jews and therefore could not publicly desecrate Shabbat. Wolffsohn insisted that they walk.

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Herzl was unwell at the time, but Wolffsohn would not relent. The distance was quite far. Eventually they got to the hotel, only to be told by Eliezer Lippmann that there was no room at the inn. The Kaiser’s entourage had taken up every guest room.

By that time there were some other hostelries in the city, but Herzl was too tired and too ill to go in search of another place to stay. Taking pity on him, Eliezer Lippmann set up a bed for his visitor in the corridor – and that’s where the visionary of the Jewish State spent his first night in Jerusalem.

The following day, the Stern family from Mamilla came to collect Herzl and gave him accommodation better suited to his status. They took him to Mamilla, to the site where the Steimatzky bookstore stands today. The basement of the store contains a small museum attesting to Herzl’s brief sojourn there.   
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