Longing for Zion
The desire to return to the land of Israel is as old as Jewish exile, and it is expressed in a wide variety of Jewish festivals, prayers and traditions. Many Jews realized their dream of traveling to the Holy Land and recorded their impressions in travel reports and images.
Zion was once the name of the hill at Jerusalem’s city border. After the first temple was built, the name became a metaphor for the place where God resides and ultimately a synonym for the city and the Holy Land.
In a religious sense, "longing for Zion" thus refers to the hope that salvation is nigh and that the Messiah will soon arrive in Jerusalem.
The story describes the beginnings of settlements in the Promised Land and the expulsion of the Jews after the Romans destroyed the temple in 70 A.D.. It describes how the orientation to Jerusalem is carried forward in the Diaspora and reflected in synagogal building and in prayers. And how the memory of the Holy Land stays alive through festivals such as the Passover, Sukkot and Hanukkah.
Already in the modern era, but intensified in the 19th and 20th centuries, Jews traveled to Palestine, among them the researcher Joseph Schwarz from Bavaria, the author from Vienna Ludwig August Frankl, the graphic artist from Galicia Ephraim Moses Lilien, and Hermann Struck, the artist from Berlin.
In the course of growing anti-Semitism in Europe at the end of the 19th century, the religious longing for Zion was increasingly united with the desire for national independence which was expressed through the Zionist movement and led to the founding of the Israeli State.