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Unity and Division: Herzl’s Challenge

Tags: Education, Activities, Resources, History, Jewish Identity, Leadership, Jewish Unity

It’s a common question: are the Jewish people united? Why or why not? Have we always faced the same dilemma of lack of unity as we do today?

We are known as a “stiff-necked people”, stubborn and many other not-so-nice terms of reference that some people have come to use to refer to the Jewish world. Although similar in many ways, Jews are also fragmented and so much of our personal experiences in our communities, as a nation, and even in our families focus on differences, rather than unity. How do we change this?

The public image of Jews is naturally affected by the internal relationships of Jews to one another. Should this matter to us? Should it impact our behavior or visible expression of our Jewishness? Should it influence our care or concern for others?

These questions have been a part of the Jewish conversation for generations. As assimilation became possible and then popular, the questions grew in urgency - what could be done to unify the Jews against the various threats to our people?

At many points in history, different leaders have had to face the challenge of seeking out a solution. In this activity we will focus on one major leader whose vision was in some ways unifying, and in other ways divisive - Theodor Herzl’s vision of a political Jewish national state. We are one nation, one people. How do we focus on what unifies us? Can Herzl’s dream help us to do this?

Together, we will explore 5 themes that Herzl faced during the time he was building the Zionist vision for the establishment of a Jewish state. As we work through the discussion questions, make sure to write your own thoughts or response questions, and then we will take on the challenge of seeing how unity and division then relates to circumstances and realities we face today.

We should use our skills, talents and energy to complete Herzl’s dream – a Jewish state that is safe, secure and living in peace,” said David Matlow. Did we accomplish our challenge and complete Herzl’s dream of becoming a unified nation? Why? How? Perhaps this is something we can do every day of our lives, in a small way, by being respectful to others whose political and/or religious views differ from ours. We can become Am Yisrael, one nation, united.

Enter your email to download activity, you will then be redirected to the activity PDF download page


Herzl's dream was partially fulfilled with the creation of the State of Israel, but it has not yet been completed. Come engage with one of our great leaders of Jewish history!

How are you Living the Legacy?

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Tags: Education, Activities, Resources, History, Jewish Identity, Leadership, Jewish Unity

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