The city of Beverly Hills in California has named a street for Zionist founding father Theodor Herzl. The council voted to create Herzl Way in a February meeting, and the road was officially renamed in a festive ceremony on Sunday.
Hundreds of youth took part in the event. The naming ceremony was attended by Mayor Jimmy Delshad and Israeli Consul Yaakov Dayan.
Delshad, an Iranian-born Jew, raised the idea of naming a street after Herzl following a visit to Herzliya, Israel, which is a sister city to Beverly Hills. At Sunday's ceremony, he recalled working in Israel as a young man. Herzl's vision and statement that “If you will it, it is no dream” have been an inspiration in his personal life, Delshad said.
Dayan spoke at the ceremony as well, and expressed hope that Herzl's vision would live on to the end of time. Previously, Dayan said the naming of Herzl Way was “truly an honor” and “gives me tremendous pride.”
The street renamed in Herzl's honor is home to local synagogue Temple Emanuel. Reform Rabbi Laura Geller of Temple Emanuel said the new street name would inspire children to learn about Zionism. “They'll walk past the street sign and say to their mom or dad, 'Who was Herzl?'” she said. The question will give adults an opportunity to relay the significance of Zionism and of the creation of the state of Israel, she added.
The naming ceremony took place on the 150th anniversary of Herzl's birth. Herzl was born in Budapest, Hungary and became a writer and journalist. He covered the 1894 trial of French Army captain Alfred Dreyfus, a Jew who was wrongly accused of treason. The trial exposed Herzl to European anti-Semitism, an experience that led him to believe that Jews could solve the problem of anti-Semitism only through modern nationalism, by creating their own state.
In 1897, he convened the First Zionist Congress, and later served as president of the Zionist Organization. He died in 1904, 44 years before Israel declared independence.