For ABC Wednesday, Z is for Zionism.
While I was volunteering at the monastery in Switzerland, a nun-friend took me to Basel on the train and guided me around the beautiful city for a whole day.
We made it into a kind of Zionist "pilgrimage."
We walked over to the Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois, also known in German as Hotel drei Könige, famous since at least 1681.
This is where Theodor Herzl stayed while he chaired the First Zionist Congress in 1897.
Perhaps this balcony is where he stood when the famous photograph was taken of Herzl gazing over the Rhine and into the future, envisioning a future homeland for the Jewish People.
Indeed, the wide river flows right next to the hotel.
The meetings of the First Zionist Congress took place in the ballroom of the Stadtcasino, another famous building in Basel.
(It is closed for now, undergoing renovations.)
It was here that the Basel Declaration was formulated and Hatikva adopted as the Zionist anthem.
On September 3, 1897, Dr. Theodor Herzl wrote in his journal:
"Were I to sum up the Basel Congress in a word - which I shall guard against pronouncing publicly - it would be this: At Basel I founded the Jewish State. If I said this out loud today l would be greeted by universal laughter. In five years perhaps, and certainly in fifty years, everyone will perceive it."