“Dream and deed are not as different as many think. All the deeds of men are dreams at first, and become dreams in the end.”
100 years ago, most Jews lived in Europe. Today, for the first time in two thousand years or more, the largest Jewish population resides in the Land of Israel. How on earth, or off it, did this happen?
For two millennia, Jews have concluded every festive meal with a song of lamentation and hope; they would say of the return to Zion, “We were like dreamers!” And indeed that is what it took to galvanise an entire nation to return home. There were dreamers and visionaries who saw so far beyond the norm that they were scorned and mocked.
Today we simply enjoy the fruits of their efforts, but how many of us have ever stopped to think: how did they do it? How did these leaders inspire Jews from all four corners of the glove to leave their homes, brave deserts, beat malaria, defeat enemies, defy international pressure and build sufficient internal cohesion to make the modern State of Israel a thriving country?
The answer is both simple and complex. All of them were master writers and speakers. Their words were graced with a power rarely seen once in a generation, let alone collected and distilled into the ears of a listening people over a mere 50 years.
Join the Academy and Rabbi Ramon Widmonte for an exploration of the writings and lives of the Visionaries of Modern Zionism. Dive into the passion, rationale, rhetoric, despair and hope of Hess, Pinsker, Herzl, Nordau, Zangwill, Jabotinsky, Gordon and Rabbi Kook – each appealing to a different part of the Jewish world, each a visionary whose sight telescoped beyond the ordinary and reached so far into our own future.
For only if we know the dreams of the past can we learn how much further we ourselves could learn to see.