Photo Credit: WBA
World Bnei Akiva youth in Budapest

Jewish youth from countries across Europe gathered earlier this month across Europe for a special ceremony to mark 120 years since the First World Zionist Congress held in Basel, Switzerland in 1897.

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The event was commemorated in Budapest, Hungary near the birthplace of State visionary and initiator of the Congress, Binyamin Zev (Theodor) Herzl.

In addition to a public reading of Herzl’s opening speech to the Congress, the event featured a response drafted by World Bnei Akiva (BA) youth, describing the current state of the Jewish nation in Israel and the world.

Participants included 120 counselors and delegates from WBA groups across Europe who gathered in Hungary for the annual WBA convention and leadership seminar. Student representatives arrived from Germany, Sweden, Finland, Holland, Italy, Austria, Belgium, and others.

“For over 60 years, World Bnei Akiva has actively endeavored to fulfill Herzl’s vision, but even today, the dream has not yet been realized in full,” said Roi Abecassis, Secretary General of World Bnei Akiva. “It was important for us to return to the place where it all began in order to reaffirm and strengthen our commitment and the commitment of our counselors to continue striving for this dream.”

The First Zionist Congress was the inaugural congress of the Zionist Organization and first significant step in transforming the Zionist movement into an organized establishment with active political institutions.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.