Ultra-orthodox in the IDF: A Nahal Haredi swearing-in ceremony.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
ON A warm day in August 1898, a historic journey began. Theodor Herzl convened the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland to start the process of returning the Jews to their ancestral homeland. Before a word was spoken, Herzl insisted on placing this journey in context: The Congress was launched by thanking God for bringing the Jewish people to this moment – “Shehecheyanu!” (A Jewish blessing used to celebrate special occasions.) The Jewish faith and religion remained core to Herzl’s Zionism, though after his death in 1904, Zionism evolved towards becoming a staunchly secular movement.The over-secularization of Zionism was a gradual process. After 1904, political Zionism faded into hibernation. None of the seeds Herzl’s planted with European leaders, such as the German Kaiser, the Turkish Sultan and the British Colonial secretary, yielded tangible results.