Theodor Herzl: From Ahasverus to Baal Teshuva
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Kamczycki, A. (2012). Theodor Herzl: From Ahasverus to Baal Teshuva. Studia Europaea Gnesnensia, (6), 61–81. Pobrano z


Theodor Zeev Benjamin Herzl (1860-1904) was the creator of Zionist ideology, which, for the purposes of preparing the Jewish nation to mass emigration to the Promised Land and establishing a state there, made full use of available imagery and visual culture.  Zionist iconosphere was therefore created, where Herzl’s iconography occupies a key position. The figure became the foremost Zionist icon, while his codified depiction was to be an embodiment of Zionist and express its ideas.

One of such embodiments was Herzl’s portrait by Leopold Pilichowski, made in 1908 on commission from the delegates of the seventh congress. The composition evokes a range of pictorial guidelines, while juxtaposition of the portrait with other works (by A. Nossig, S. Hirszenberg, G. Dore and B. Schatz) enables one to discern an iconographic sequence which draws on the idea of Ahasverus (the Wandering Jew). For Zionism, Ahasverus is an archetype of the so-called negative image of ghetto Jews (ghetto types), which from then on constituted a hindrance on the way to national mobilisation and thus a target of Zionist criticism. He was an element embodying exile, wandering, discrimination, persecution, internal degeneration, social pathology and mental deviation, existential inertia and physiognomic grotesque.

In contrast, Herzl’s portrait was to be a manifesto repudiation of these negative encumbrances (visual ones included) and a guideline for new Zionist ideals, which responded with  Baal Teshuva – the Jew returning to the Promised Land.



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