Today, Hebrew is the official language of the Jewish people... but that almost wasn't the case. In the early 20th century, religious Jews thought it was blasphemy to use their "holy language" for everyday conversation, and secular Jews from Europe preferred to speak the languages of their native countries. Even Zionist leader Theodor Herzl envisioned a Jewish state with German as the official language.
For Jewish leaders in 1948, the decision to declare statehood wasn't an easy one. They knew that independence also meant instant war. But for a brief moment, they put aside their battle plans and focused on accouncing to the world that the nation of Israel had been reborn.
In the days leading up to Israel's independence, Jewish leader David Ben-Gurion facedopposition on all sides. The Americans refused to support a Jewish state. The Arabs threatened war. And Ben-Gurion's own cabinet was divided.
Israel's only chance for peace with the Arabs now rested on a former schoolteacher from Wisconsin -- a woman Ben-Gurion would later call "the best man in his cabinet".
Throughout the early 20th century, Jewish diplomats such as Chaim Weizmann spent decades working to gain international support for a Jewish state. At the same time, another man was in Palestine building that state from the ground up. To his friends and colleagues, he was known simply as "the old man". To the rest of the world, he's remembered as the founder and father of the State of Israel... David Ben-Gurion.
In the early 20th century, a new Jewish national movement was growing in Palestine. But world events were shfiting quickly, and the entire Middle East was about to change hands. The Jewish people were soon to get something for which they had waited nearly 2,000 years -- the promise of a home in the land of Israel.
Relatively few people realize the major role Christians played in the formation of the modern State of Israel. The new Friends of Zion Museum in the heart of Jerusalem reveals this hidden history.
There's a dangerous trend towards anti-Semitism... from within the church. Author Joel Richardson explains.
Long before Theodor Herzl presented his plan for a Jewish state, that state was already being built. By the end of the 19th century, thousands of Jewish pioneers had returned to Palestine from Europe and Russia to carry out what they called "The Redemption of the Land".
In A.D. 70, the Romans conquered Jerusalem and the Jewish people were scattered throughout the world.
Even in exile, they celebrated Passover each year with a prayer of hope: "Next year in Jerusalem".
After more than 1,800 years, the dream of a Jewish homeland was stronger than ever, and in the late 19th century, a young writer from Vienna brought that dream to the attention of the world.
After a trip to Israel changed his life, Ryan Ries was determined to make an impact on pop culture for Christ, and left his celebrity skater status behind to co-found The Whosoever movement.