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Idealizing Zion: Visualizing the Jewish State 

Idealizing Zion

Idealizing Zion Visualizing the Jewish State

Center for Jewish History to Host International Zionism Symposium this Weekend

The program coincides with an exhibit and Israel’s 75th anniversary, convenes scholars to debate and discuss the topic

New York, NY – In observance of Israel’s 75th Anniversary this spring, The Center for Jewish History (CJH) – home to the world’s largest and most comprehensive archive of the modern Jewish experience outside of Israel – will host a major public symposium on the history of Zionism this weekend to be attended by scholars from around the world.

Co-sponsored by the National Library of Israel, the symposium, entitled “American Jews and Zionism: Bringing us Together and Pulling Us Apart,” will be presented at CJH on Sunday, April 30th.

What: International Zionism Symposium to mark Israel’s 75th anniversary

When: Sunday, April 30th from 10am – 6pm

Where: The Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011

Who: The participants include –

The symposium coincides with a new exhibit, “Idealizing Zion: Visualizing the Jewish State,” featuring early twentieth-century postcards from the Blavatnik Archive’s collection that were produced in Palestine, Eastern Europe, and Western Europe. It opens on Sunday, April 30th and is presented by the Center for Jewish History and the Blavatnik Archive in the Center’s newly renovated Valentin Blavatnik Gallery.

These fascinating historical documents reveal how early Zionists imagined the nascent Jewish homeland in three specific areas: agriculture, military defense, and urban design. The postcards express some of the powerful ideals that drove the Jewish national movement in the early 20th century.

Dr. Gavriel Rosenfeld, president of the Center for Jewish History said, “As Israel approaches its 75th anniversary, Jews around the world are poised to take stock of the Jewish state’s short but complex history. American Jews, who have been stalwart supporters of Israel, will be especially active in assessing our own pivotal contributions to Israel’s creation. But the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict and the recent spike in domestic antisemitism have caused new splits to emerge among American Jews about the Zionist movement. With this symposium, we hope to speak openly and honestly about the past, present, and future of Zionism by gathering some of the best and brightest academic scholars in the United States and Israel to reflect on what history can teach us about contemporary international affairs.” 

Dr. Rosenfeld continued, “Generationally, as well as politically, American Jews appear to be more divided about Zionism than ever.  Yet these divisions are hardly new.  In fact, for nearly a century and a half, Zionism has been a source of contention, not just consensus, among Jews in the United States and around the world.  The question of whether the Jewish people should be viewed as an ethnically defined nation or merely a religious community has been hotly contested within Jewish communities from the late 19th century to the present. 

For more information on the symposium, please visit

The program is presented with the generous support of the David Berg Foundation.

The exhibit is presented by the Blavatnik Archive and the Center for Jewish History. It is made possible with the generous support of the Blavatnik Family Foundation. Additional funding is from New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York Council on the Arts.

Media wishing to RSVP should contact by 5 pm on Saturday, April 29th.

About the Center for Jewish History

The Center is the collaborative home of five in-house Partner organizations (American Jewish Historical Society, American Sephardi Federation, Leo Baeck Institute, Yeshiva University Museum, and YIVO Institute for Jewish Research) whose collections comprise over five miles of archival documents in dozens of languages and alphabet systems, over 500,000 volumes of books, 9.1 million digital items, and thousands of artworks, objects, textiles, and recordings. Significant scholarship is regularly published using these materials, including award-winning studies that would have been impossible to write without access to them. The Center opens the collections to the public and democratizes access to them through exhibits, events, fellowships, and a host of free public archive and library services—including the archival preservation efforts of its laboratories.


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