Israel’s President Isaac Herzog published an article ahead of the World Zionist Organization’s massive Monday event in Switzerland marking the 125th anniversary of the First Zionist Congress.
In the article published in the Swiss-Jewish newspaper Tachles, Herzog notes that the delegates that convened in Basel 125 years ago “changed the course of our nation’s history forever.”
“They announced an ambitious, if not fantastical, vision: the restoration of a Jewish state in our ancestral homeland.”
He continued that Theodor Herzl “left us unfinished business,” stating that the “primary task of our generation” is to strengthen “our collective Jewish sense of togetherness” between Israeli Jews and the diaspora.
“Being family means wanting what is best for each other, truly respecting each other’s choices, and speaking openly with understanding and empathy,” he continued.
“We will not, and need not, always agree on everything (even in Israel we don’t agree among ourselves!), but we must always insist on open, sincere engagement.”
“We are too small as a people, and the stakes are too high, not to cultivate a rich, vibrant, dynamic Jewish culture that draws inspiration from the diverse mosaic of the Jewish people and its history and traditions around the world.”
During the 125th anniversary event, Israel’s Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai gave a speech reiterating Herzog’s statements on the relationship between Israel and the Jewish diaspora.
“It is our duty, as a state, and as a government, to find ways to integrate the voices of world Jewry into the decision-making process within the State of Israel,” Shai stated.
“Many of the decisions we make in Jerusalem affect not only the citizens of Israel but Jewish communities around the world alike.”