Theodore Herzl, the father of political Zionism, was Jewish by birth but he had zero Jewish education. He was born in Budapest, the son of rather wealthy but non-religious Jewish parents. They eventually moved to Vienna. His parents sought to fully assimilate Theodore and although they never actually converted they did not give him a bar mitzvah when he turned 13 but rather had him confirmed.

Herzl went to law school but discovered that he had a love of writing and became a journalist. It was on a journalist assignment in Paris in 1894 that Herzl covered the trial of Richard Dreyfus.

Something was officially stirred in Thedor Herzl after this. He made a total 180 in his approach to the Jewish question. At one point in his life he had advocated for all Jews to convert. But the Dreyfus affair showed him that even conversion wouldn’t bring the Jewish people real acceptance. With his amazing command of language, he wrote a book called “a Jewish State.”