ISRAEL - 70th Anniversary of Mount Herzl

Arno Froese

Over the generations, Jews ascended to Jerusalem and stood in front of the stones of the Western Wall, the last remnant of the Temple, trembling and pleading, their prayers filled with yearning for the day when the Jewish people would return to Zion. Some 1,800 years later, the national immigration to the Land of Israel began and the Zionist movement was established. The immigrants who arrived in the Land of Israel replaced religious yearning with national yearning, and in the process abandoned the dream of returning to Jerusalem and establishing the Temple there. They chose to redeem their homeland in the coastal plain and the Galilee, to replace the prayer book with the plow, and replace the dream rebuilding of the Temple with the establishment of a Jewish state. During this process, Jerusalem became a distant dream, and the longing for it became increasingly intense. Nevertheless, over the years, among the leaders of the Zionist movement, the notion that Jerusalem and no other city could be the national capital of the state took form. The religious yearning for Jerusalem became a national yearning and the story of King David, who made Jerusalem the capital of his kingdom, became a national story with no theological characteristics.

On November 24, 1948, the provisional government decided to set up a joint committee with the Jewish Agency to deal with bringing Theodor Herzl’s remains to the State of Israel. This was the first step that paved the way for his reburial on a hill at the entrance to the Bayit Vagan neighborhood of Jerusalem on August 17, 1949. In his will, Herzl did not refer to his burial place in the Land of Israel. Over the years, two sites were suggested as appropriate: Mount Carmel and Jerusalem.

Those who supported Herzl’s burial on Mount Carmel relied on the testimony of David Wolffsohn, Herzl’s personal friend and president of the World Zionist Organization. According to them, while Herzl did not explicitly state the desire to be buried there in his will, he often mentioned it in personal conversations. They also relied on a quote from Herzl’s book, Altneuland.

Nevertheless, most of the committee members felt that the most appropriate burial place was Jerusalem. Herzl’s burial in Jerusalem symbolized the full realization of the Zionist idea, the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish kingdom from the time of King David.

A 70-year-old mystery surrounding the re-interment of Theodor Herzl’s remains in Jerusalem was solved. The pall that draped Herzl’s coffin mysteriously vanished sometime after the 1949 ceremony and was not found since.

Upon the establishment of the State of Israel, one of David Ben-Gurion’s first decisions was to fulfill Herzl’s wishes and bring his remains to Israel for re-interment, and the cloth was used to cover the coffin. The cloth (parochet) was removed in the ceremony and was entrusted in the hands of the Jewish National Fund, but it mysteriously vanished. Years of efforts to locate it bore no fruit. After 70 years, a decision was made to replicate it. In July 2019, during Herzl’s annual memorial ceremony, the replica was publicly presented. But then, a month later, the story took an unexpected twist: the original cloth was found in a JNF warehouse., 30 August 2019

Arno's commentary

Theodore Herzl is celebrated as the father of modern Zionism. Born 2 May 1860 in Budapest, Hungary, he died at a young age: 3 July 1904. In his famous book Der Judenstaat, he wrote among other things:

Therefore I believe that a wondrous generation of Jews will spring into existence. The Maccabeans will rise again.

Let me repeat once more my opening words: The Jews who wish for a State will have it.

We shall live at last as free men on our own soil, and die peacefully in our own homes.

The world will be freed by our liberty, enriched by our wealth, magnified by our greatness.

And whatever we attempt there to accomplish for our own welfare, will react powerfully and beneficially for the good of humanity.

Although he was not a religious Jew—actually, an atheist—his statement is prophetic: “The world will be freed by our liberty, enriched by our wealth, magnified by our greatness.”

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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