THEODOR HERZL (1860-1904), founder of modern political Zionism, was born in Budapest on the 2nd of May 1860, and died at Edlach on the 3rd of July 1904.
Herzl was stirred by sympathy for the misery of Jews under persecution, but he was even more powerfully moved by the difficulties experienced under conditions of assimilation.
Herzl believed that the humanitarian hopes which inspired men at the end of the 18th and during the larger part of the 19th centuries had failed.
In 1896 Herzl published his famous pamphlet "Der Judenstaat."
But Herzl approached the subject entirely on its secular side, and his solution was economic and political rather than sentimental.
Herzl, however, succeeded in assembling several congresses at Basel (beginning in 1897), and at these congresses were enacted remarkable scenes of enthusiasm for the cause and devotion to its leader.
Even as a temporary measure, the choice of an extra-Palestinian site for the Jewish state was bitterly opposed by many Zionists; others (with whom Herzl appears to have sympathized) thought that as Palestine was, at all events momentarily, inaccessible, it was expedient to form a settlement elsewhere.
Herzl was beyond question the most influential Jewish personality of the 19th century.
In 1896 Herzl (q.v.) issued his proposal for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine and in 1898 he came to the country to investigate its possibilities.
Herzl thus left an indelible mark on his time, and his renown is assured whatever be the fate in store for the political Zionism which he founded and for which he gave his life.