The Official Postcards of the Early Zionist Congresses

June 22, 2022 | Saul Jay Singer
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In 1897, Theodor Herzl convened the First Zionist Congress, a parliamentary gathering for Jews dedicated to the Zionist project. The Zionist Congress went on to meet every year or every other year prior to the creation of the state of Israel; specially produced, official postcards were issued to mark each of these gatherings. Alongside images of the first seven such postcards, Saul Jay Singer offers important historical context regarding the Zionist Congresses they represented.

The official card of the Fourth Congress illustrates “wandering Jews,” Diaspora Jews in exile carrying their meager possessions while the “Angel of Zion” framed by a Magen David extends its wings and points them toward Eretz Yisrael, where Jews are at work on their land.

Herzl realized that support from Britain, then the world’s greatest power, was a necessary prerequisite to the establishment of a Jewish homeland. Indeed, this was why the Jewish National Fund was incorporated as a British company; why the Fourth Congress was convened in London, marking the first time it was held outside Switzerland; and why the first part of Herzl’s opening address was delivered in English: to affect public opinion in England in sympathy with the Zionist idea.

The Congress met in an atmosphere of growing concern over the situation facing Romanian Jewry, where many thousands had been forcibly expelled, and the remainder subject to extreme persecution. The Jewish situation in much of Eastern Europe was dire, and many of the addresses at the Congress contained seeds of prophecy regarding the European Holocaust to come.

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