Chicago’s early Zionists were immigrants from Eastern Europe who lived on the city’s Near West Side. They formed America’s first Zionist society here in Chicago in 1895. It was called “Zionist Organization no. 1.”
The group sent a representative to participate in the First Zionist Congress, held in Basel, Switzerland in 1897. After the Congress, the group reorganized into a fraternal organization called the Order Knights of Zion. In 1918, the Knights of Zion joined the Zionist Organization of America and became the Zionist Organization of Chicago.