The Dream of Zion: The Story of the First Zionist Congress


The Dream of Zion: The Story of the First Zionist Congress tells the story of the Jewish political effort to restore their ancient nation. At the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, in August 1897 Theodor Herzl convened a remarkable meeting that founded what became the World Zionist Organization, defined the political goals of the movement, adopted a national anthem, created the legal and financial instruments that would lead to statehood, and ushered the reentry of the Jewish people into political history. It was there in Basel that Herzl, the man some praised and some mocked as the new Moses, became the leader. The book provides an overview of the history that led to the Congress, an introduction to key figures in Israeli history, a discussion of the climate at the time for Jews—including the pogroms in Russia—and a discussion of themes that remain relevant today, such as the Christian reaction to the Zionist idea.

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As political debates continue to swirl around Israel, The Dream of Zion opens a window into its founding.

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“With elegance, accuracy, and clarity, Lawrence Epstein’s The Dream of Zion explains a dream that changed the world.”Rabbi David Wolpe, Sinai Temple, Los Angeles

The Dream of Zion is a riveting account of an event that changed not only the history of the Jews but of the world. We owe a debt of gratitude to Lawrence J. Epstein for retrieving a remarkable and nearly forgotten story.” – Yossi Klein Halevi, author of Like Dreamers

“No one can understand the modern state of Israel without knowing about the extraordinary whirlwind of events surrounding European anti-Semitism, Theodor Herzl, and the First Zionist Congress in 1897. The Dream of Zion provides that background, explicating both the complex origins of the Jewish State and some of the challenges it continues to face.” — Daniel Gordis, Shalem College

“I have taught about Theodor Herzl and the Zionist movement for forty years, but I learned more from this book than any other. Lawrence Epstein has combined meticulous research with an engaging storytelling approach to help us understand the amazing genius of Herzl and the incredible success of the First Zionist Congress.” — Stephen A. Karol, rabbi emeritus, Temple Isaiah of Stony Brook, New York

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