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July 14, 1989 - Image 24

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-07-14

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Hannah Stern displays her grandparents' memorabilia.

A famous photograph
shows Theodor Herzl,
the founder of mod-
ern Zionism, leaning
over a Jerusalem bal-
cony, gazing to the
Jaffa Gate and the
Citadel of the Old
The photograph isn't quite ge-
nuine, according to Meir Stern, whose
first-floor balcony possesses that par-
ticular view of the Jaffa Gate and the
Citadel. The photograph of Herzl was
executed in Basle, Switzerland. The
Jerusalem scenery was superimposed
later, Stern says.
Which is not to say that the
photograph is completely dis-
ingenuous either. For eight days in
1898 Herzl was able to stand on that
balcony at 18 Mamila Street and con-
template the Old City, then in the
hands of the Ottoman Turks.
The Zionist leader was a house
guest of Stern's grandfather. But a
genuine shot of Herzl on the balcony
would have been impossible because
Herzl was only in the house in the
mornings, and the sun, rising over
the Old City, would have obstructed
the photograph.
But for the Sterns, the memory of
Herzl's visit was neither obstructed
nor obscured by the passage of time,
and the family has erected a kind of


FRIDAY, JULY 14, 1989

Slept ere

Preserving the memory
of Zionism's founding father
is just an old
family tradition for
Meir Stern.



Israel Correspondent

shrine to the Zionist leader. Meir and
his sisters, Hannah and Ruth, say
their connection to their house and
their grandfather's illustrious visitor
is so strong that for 19 years they
have defied attempts by the
authorities to demolish the building
to make way for a commercial center
on the western approach to the Old
City. Jerusalem officials broke
ground on the Mamila Development
Project in May. Because of the Stern's
perseverence, the house is now an in-
tegral part of the plan.
It is the latest chapter in a story
that began 119 years ago, at a time
when the first tentative steps were
being taken by Jews to settle outside
the Old City's walls.
In 1870, when Herzl was a lad of
10, the Sterns' great-grandfather
Judah sold his mills in Germany and
moved to the land of Israel. Finding
the Old City too crowded and poor for
his affluent standard of living, Judah
Stern bought a parcel of land from a
nearby Greek Orthodox convent and
began building a house amid a grove
of olive trees less than a mile from
Jerusalem's walls.
In those days, even those who had
any business outside the walls
retreated behind them at night for
safety. The Sterns, however, remain-
ed at home at nightfall. Were they
more fearless than other

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