Why would Herzl meet Olaf the Snowman?
By David Matlow
I am on a mission. That mission is to tell people who Theodor Herzl was and what he did. I believe that if you know about Herzl you will know why we have a Jewish state, you will understand why we need to support it, and you will be inspired never to give up hope whether for Israel or for anything else that is dear to you.
Herzl was the visionary of the State of Israel. Although he was a dreamer, he was also a doer. After writing about his plan in the book Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State) which was published in 1896, he didn't let the plan remain as an abstract idea. He went about trying to make it happen. He worked tirelessly on behalf of this cause for the last eight years of his life. He literally worked himself to death at the age of 44 in 1904.
Herzl's dream did not die with him. He had surrounded himself with passionate and committed followers who continued his work after his tragic death.
Herzl and his followers had created a movement, the Zionist movement, whose objective was the establishment of a home for the Jewish people in our ancient homeland which was then part of the Ottoman Empire called Palestine.
Farms and communities were established, the Hebrew language was revived, banks and businesses were created, infrastructure was built, meetings and conferences were held, plans upon plans were made: all in preparation for the opportunity to create this national home. Why was it important to establish this national home? Because the Jewish people needed and deserved a place where we can be safe, where we can look after one another, and where we can make decisions for ourselves.
Israel is that place. History showed us that the Jewish people needed that place. The daily news shows us that we still do.
Many people do not know where Israel came from. They may know about its conflicts but not its purpose.
Without knowing the process of independence and its purpose, incorrect and dangerous myths about Israel are repeated. When they are repeated enough times they are taken to be truths.
We supporters of Israel need to find ways to remind people why the country exists. This takes me to Olaf the Snowman, from the popular Disney animated musical Frozen.
Theo, my Theodor Herzl mascot, recently visited New York's Times Square and was photographed with an Olaf street character. People asked: who is that with Olaf? The answer was: that's Theodor Herzl. Naturally, that elicited the follow up question: who is Theodor Herzl?
The response is what you just read.
In this way the story of Israel is told to one person at a time. Let's all tell Israel's story in any way that works.
We all can tell Israel's story. We all have the power to help.
David Matlow is a partner at Goodmans LLP in Toronto, Canada. He is the owner of the world's largest collection of Theodor Herzl memorabilia and together with Israeli filmmaker Eli Tal-El produced a 52 minute documentary film called My Herzl. David was the co-chair of Toronto's 2015 Campaign for the United Jewish Appeal and is currently the Vice-Chair of the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto.