May 4, 2010

Im Tirzu, Ayn Zu Agada

"If you will it, it is no dream." Im Tirzu, ayn zu Agada. אם תרצו, אין זו אגדה

The famous words of Theodore Herzl that turned to be the driving force behind the creation of the State of Israel.

That is now also the driving force behind the renaming of a street in Beverly Hills after Theodore Herzl.

The 300 block of North Clark Drive in Beverly Hills was renamed Herzl Way on Sunday on the 150th anniversary of the birth of Theodor Herzl, the father of Zionism.

The Beverly Hills City Council voted 4-1 at its Feb. 2 meeting to name the block where Temple Emanuel is located for Herzl, a Hungarian writer, playwright and journalist who coined the phrase, "If you will it, it is no dream.''

The remainder of the street will continue to be called Clark Drive, named for Percy Clark, the first agent who sold land in the Beverly Hills tract, according to the 1934 book "History of Beverly Hills,'' by Pierce E. Benedict and Don Kennedy.

"This is by far one the best days of my life,'' Beverly Hills Mayor Jimmy Delshad said at the ceremony. "As a young man, I never dreamed that one day I would be here, as the mayor of Beverly Hills, recognizing the visionary of the state of Israel, Theodor Herzl.''

Delshad recalled working in the fields and as a janitor in Israel as a youth and how Herzl "was behind me, talking to me, saying `Nothing is impossible,''' inspiring him to his future business success in the United States.

In an interview, Delshad said he was inspired to have a street named for Herzl during a 2007 visit to Herzliya, the Israeli coastal city he made a sister city of Beverly Hills during his first term as mayor.

[...]

"Today, Israel and Beverly Hills are making a statement of mutual respect, friendship and partnership.

"And today, the citizens of Beverly Hills are saying, `Herzl Way is our way. We believe in the strong, vibrant, innovative country of Israel. We believe in the movement that paved the way for millions of Jews to return to their homeland after 2,000 years in the diaspora. We believe in this vision.'''

Temple Emanuel Senior Rabbi Laura Geller said the renaming will prompt children to ask "Who was Herzl? Why was he important enough to have a street named for him?'' and learn about him.

Perhaps it will be the driving force one day to urge and encourage the Jews of Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, and other areas, to participate in fulfilling the dream of creating and living in the Jewish Homeland.

To quote another famous line that has a very similar meaning, "If you build it they will come". We are building it, we have been building it, come help us build it. If you will it, it is no dream. Israel is today's Jewish reality.

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