Treasure Trove: A souvenir postcard from Theodor Herzl’s one visit to the Land of Israel in 1898

Theodor Herzl made only one visit to the Land of Israel, arriving in Jerusalem on Oct. 28, 1898. He traveled as the leader of a Zionist delegation to meet German Kaiser Wilhelm II, who was making his own religious and political pilgrimage, to advance his idea of the Jewish state.

Herzl arrived by train from Jaffa just as the Sabbath was starting, and although he was not feeling well, he walked rather than take a carriage to his hotel. When he finally reached his hotel, he was told he could stay for only one night as his room had been given to other dignitaries who were in town for the Kaiser’s visit.

With no other hotel rooms available in Jerusalem, a man named Jonas Marx made available his newly built home, Stern House, at 83 Mamilla Road (now part of the Mamilla shopping concourse and the home to a number of restaurants, of course, including the Herzl Grill House).

Author Gol Kalev wrote about Herzl’s visit: “If in Basel Herzl founded the Jewish state, in Jerusalem he previewed it to the world. For one week, he was ‘king of the Jews,’ as he was called by the local Arabs. Manifesting magisterial presence in Stern House, Herzl was regarded for that week as a representative of Judaism by Jews, Arabs, Turks and Germans. In doing so, he marked the beginning of the transformation of Zionism from an irrelevant stream to Judaism’s dominant force.”

This German postcard shows “Herzl with his friends and hosts in Jerusalem.” At this very difficult time, we wish all our friends and hosts in Jerusalem and elsewhere in Israel safety and peace.