Zionist Aliyot (1882-2002)

This Timeline draws together the different trends and critical events in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, demonstrating how several courageous religious leaders and communities before the modern, Zionist aliyot formed the basis for modern Zionism around their yearning to settle in Eretz Yisrael.




Rabbi Yehuda Hehasid moves to Eretz Yisrael accompanied by hundreds of his followers. In preparation for their arrival, the residents of Jerusalem build dwellings and a synagogue. A few days after his arrival, Rabbi Yehuda dies suddenly, to the dismay of his followers. 1700  
Rahel's Tomb
Arab residents of Jerusalem break into the synagogue built for Rabbi Yehuda Hehasid, destroying it and expelling all Ashkenazy Jews from the city. The attack results from a debt the Ashkenazi community owed the Arab residents from the time of Rabbi Yehuda Hehasid. 1720
1740-1750 - Thousands immigrate to Eretz Yisrael under the influence of Messianic predictions. Among the immigrants is Rabbi Moses Haim Luzzatto (1707-1746), the renowned author of Messilat Yesharim, and Kabbalist Rabbi Haim ben Attar, author of the landmark Or Hahayim commentary. The large immigration greatly increases the size and strength of the Jewish Settlement in Eretz Yisrael. (Morgenstern, Arie. Dispersion and Longing for Zion, 1240-1840. Azure.) 1740
Ottoman authorities invite Rabbi Haim Abulafia (1660-1744), renowned Kabbalist and Rabbi of Izmir, to come to the Holy Land. Rabbi Abulafia is to rebuild the city of Tiberias, which has lain desolate for some 70 years. The city’s revival is seen by many as a sign of the coming of the Messiah. (Morgenstern, Arie. “Dispersion and Longing for Zion, 1240-1840”. Azure.) 1740  
Rabbi Abraham Gershon of Kitob (d. 1760) is the first immigrant of the Hassidic Aliyah. He is a respected Talmudic scholar, mystic, and brother-in-law of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (founder of the Hassidic movement). Rabbi Abraham first settles in Hebron. Later, he relocates to Jerusalem at the behest of its residents. (Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 9, pp. 514. Gershon of Kitov) 1742  
Aliyah of Hassidim to Tiberias, led by Rabbi Menahem Mendel of Peremyshlyny (b. 1728). This is the first organized Hassidic Aliyah, and begins a period marked by a number of Hassidic Aliyot. (Encyclopedia Judaica vol. 11 pp. 1309) 1764  
Aliyah of Hassidic leaders. Rabbi Menahem Mendel of Vitebsk (1730-1788) and Avraham Kalisk lead a group of 300 immigrants. The immigrants settle in Tiberias, where Rabbi Menahem Mendel oversees the building of a Hassidic synagogue. (Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 9, pp. 514) 1777  

Napoleon Bonaparte publishes a proclamation: “Rightful heirs of Palestine ... Take over that which has been conquered and…remain its master, to maintain it against all comers.” Many Jews in Israel and Europe receive the proclamation with joy. ( - 36 –35, Napoleon)

  1799 Rabbi Moshe Sofer (known as Hatam Sofer, 1762-1839) admonishes the Jews of the Diaspora, “Go and travel now”. This occurs on the seventh day of the Jewish month of Av, four months after Napoleon’s proclamation. With great passion, he discusses his high hopes for a nearing Redemption, and hints at the importance of taking practical measures to hasten its coming. ( - 43)

The population of Eretz Yisrael is 300,000, of which 5,000 are Jews. Most of the Jews are concentrated in Jerusalem, Safed, Tiberias and Hebron.
(Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 9, pp. 293)


Napoleon I revokes his support of a Jewish homeland and equal rights for Jews. After coming under a strong antisemitic influence in Pressburg, he gathers Jewish leaders from across his empire in order to amend Jewish law and to abolish Jewish nationalism. ( - 44)

First wave of disciples of Rabbi Eliyahu of Vilna (known as the Vilna Gaon, 1720-1797) arrives in the Holy Land, led by Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Sheklov (d. 1827). The new immigrants journey to Tiberias; seeing the strong Hassidic community there, they relocate to Safed, where they foster a warm relationship with the Sephardi community. (Ya’ari, Avraham. “Talmidei Hagra Vehishtarshutam Ba’aretz”. Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 11, pp. 1310) 1808


Second wave of the Vilna Gaon’s students comes to Eretz Yisrael, led by his chief disciple, Rabbi Saadya Ben Rabbi Natan Neta of Vilna. 1809
Third wave of the Vilna Gaon’s disciples immigrates to Safed, among them Rabbi Israel Sheklov (d. 1839). A community of 150 Jews of Lithuanian origin (known as Perushim) greets them. (Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 9, pp. 1059. Ya’ari, Avraham. “Talmidei Hagra Vehishtarshutam Ba’aretz”.) 1809
Agricultural land is bought by students of the Vilna Gaon in the spirit of the “Natural Redemption”. Flourishing agriculture is seen as a sign of Redemption, and enables the Jews to fulfill the Biblical commandments pertaining to agricultural work in the Land of Israel. (Morgenstern, Arie. “Dispersion and Longing for Zion, 1240-1840, 1240-1840”. Azure.) 1810  
  1811 Eighty Hungarian families set out for Eretz Yisrael intending to work in agriculture, with strong encouragement from Rabbi Moshe Sofer (known as the Chatam Sofer 1762-1839). On their journey, the Jews are repeatedly attacked and most return home. ( - 63)
Plague breaks out in Safed, forcing many Jews to flee to Jerusalem, among them Rabbi Menahem Mendel of Sheklov (d. 1827). The refugees succeed in renewing the Ashkenazi presence in Jerusalem, after nearly a hundred years of banishment by the local Arabs. 1812  
First Ashkenazi community established in Hebron by Chabbad Hassidim. Hebron is one of the four holy cities, and their leader, Rabbi Dov Ber, strongly encourages its settlement. He has a room designated for him in the city. The move strengthens and brings stability to the Hebron community as a whole. (Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 9, pp. 297. Hebron.) 1820  
  1825 An influential American Jew, Mordecai Noah (1785-1851), issues an appeal to European Jewry to establish a Jewish state named “Ararat” on the Grand Island of the Niagara River, the project is a failure. (Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 16, pp. 1036)
Rabbi Israel Sheklov (d. 1839), one of the disciples of the Vilna Gaon, begins a campaign for the renewal of the Semicha, the ancient Rabbinic ordination. He views it as the first step in bringing the Messiah and the Redemption. This initiative, strongly opposed by other Rabbis, ultimately fails. (Sheklov) 1830 First Aliyah from Germany led by Moshe Sacks (Zacks), a student of Rabbi Moshe Sofer, who is greatly influenced by his emphasis on the importance of immigrating to Israel. Sacks works toward the establishment of an agricultural settlement in Eretz Yisrael. (Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 9, pp. 514)
First Hebrew printing press in 246 years opened in Safed, by Israel Bak (1797-1874). The first book published is a Sephardi prayer book, followed by the Book of Leviticus. (Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 9, pp. 298. Hebrew Press) 1831  
Israel Bak relocates to Mount Yarmuk (Meron) outside Safed. He begins working the land and establishes a farm. It is the first Jewish farm established in Eretz Yisrael in modern times. 1834  
  1835 First mission of Moshe Sacks.

Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Kalisher

1836 Moshe Sacks proposes to the Emperor Ferdinand of Austria, that it support the establishment of a large Jewish agricultural settlement in the Land of Israel. He enlists the support of Baron Solomon Mayer Rothschild (1774-1855) of Vienna for financial support. Sacks is the first to advocate large-scale productivity of the Jewish settlement in the Holy Land. ( - 97)
1836 Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Kalisher (1795-1874) appeals to Anschel Rothschild (1773-1855) to purchase the Land of Israel, or at the very least the Temple Mount. Rabbi Kalisher sees these practical acts as necessary for bringing the Redemption. (Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 16, pp. 1035. Morgenstern, Arie. “Dispersion and Longing for Zion, 1240-1840”. Azure.)

Earthquake in Safed destroys much of the city. Some 5,000 people are killed, of which 4,000 are Jewish. Many of the surviving Rabbinic scholars relocate to Hebron, leaving the Jewish community in Safed numbering only 1,500.

Sir Moses Montefiore

1838 Rabbi Yohanan Zvi Shank (d. 1884), disciple of the Hatam Sofer, immigrates to the Holy Land. He soon becomes a major figure in the building and financial support of Jerusalem. He is one of the first to settle outside of the Old City walls, in the Nahalat Shiva neighborhood. ( 121)
1838 Dr. Eliezer Levi (1809- ) becomes Moses Montefiore’s (1784-1885) secretary. He is the driving force behind Montefiore’s efforts in developing and assisting the Yishuv in Eretz Yisrael. ( - 103)
1839 During his first visit to Eretz Israel Moses Montefiore comes to an agreement with Muhammad Ali, ruler of Egypt and Palestine, for the acquisition of land and the establishment of agricultural settlements in Eretz Yisrael. A blood libel in Damascus ruins his plan and as a precaution, Montefiore begins disguising his Zionist activities as philanthropy. ( 107)

A widespread Messianic prediction sparks a renewed interest in immigration to Eretz Yisrael (Kol Hator). This prediction is circulated in the Balkans and in Eastern Europe. (Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 16, pp. 1034; Morgenstern, Arie. “Dispersion and Longing for Zion, 1240-1840”. Azure.)

Rabbi Yehuda Alkalai


1840 Rabbi Yehuda Alkalai (1798-1878) begins spreading his belief that this is the time of the Messiah. He believes that settling the land of Israel will hasten the coming of the Redemption. (Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 16, pp. 1034)
1843 Rabbi Yehuda Alkalai publishes Minchat Yehuda (Yehuda’s Offering). In the book he elaborates on the need for human initiatives, which will hurry the coming of the Redemption.
1844 The Christadelphians, a Christian Zionist group, is founded in England. It supports the Jews’ return to Zion. The group supports the Hibbat Zion movement, which assists the Jews in their efforts to resettle the Holy Land. (Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 16, pp. 1153)
1852 The Association for Promoting Jewish Settlement in Palestine is established by British Christian, Colonel George Gawler (1796-1869). Its activities include training Jews in Eretz Yisrael for agricultural work, as well as publishing literature on the benefits of a large Jewish settlement for Britain. (Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 16, pp. 1154)
The Western Wall


1855 Moses Montefiore (1784-1885) buys land for agricultural purposes, under the guise of philanthropic activity. Among his acquisitions are Mishkenot Sha’ananim, a settlement outside of the old city walls in Jerusalem, land outside of Safed and Tiberias, and a large orchard outside of Jaffa. This is the first Jewish orchard in Eretz Yisrael in modern times. ( 114)
1857 Rabbi Moshe Hamburger (1801-1888), a disciple of the Hatam Sofer, immigrates to Eretz Yisrael. He is seen off by thousands of Hungarian Jews. Hamburger becomes secretary of the Hungarian Kollel, an organization supporting the Hungarian Jews of Jerusalem. ( - 133)
1859 Rabbi David Friedlander (b. 1826) immigrates to the Holy Land under the influence of the Hatam Sofer. He works as a brick-maker, and encourages Jews to work in agriculture. ( - 139)
1860 Moses Hess (1812-1875) becomes the first secular Jew to support Zionism. (Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 16, pp. 1035)

The Jewish Company for the Settlement of the Holy Land is founded. This decision is made jointly by a number of Zionist Rabbis, among them Rabbi Zvi Kalisher, Rabbi Yehuda Alkalai and Rabbi Eliyahu Guttmacher (d. 1874). This is the first practical act of the Hibbat Zion movement. (Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 16, pp. 1037)

1860 Ernest Laharanne publishes “La nouvelle Question d'Orient: empires d'Egypte et d'Arabie: reconstitution de la nationalité juive (The New East Question)” in French, proposing the acquisition of the Land of Israel from the Turkish Sultan and the establishment of a Jewish state. ( - 203)
  Mishkenot Sha'ananim
1860 Second mission of Moshe Sachs.
1861 Mishkenot Sha’ananim, the first neighborhood outside of the old city walls of Jerusalem, is dedicated, consisting of a building housing 16 apartments and a windmill. The project is funded by Sir Moses Montefiore of England together with Judah Touro (1775-1854) and Gershom Kursheedt (1817-????) of America.
1862 Rabbi Kalisher publishes Drishat Zion (Seeking Zion), the first Hebrew book to be published in Eastern Europe promoting agricultural settlement in the Holy Land, as a way of bringing the Redemption.
1862 Hess publishes “Rome and Jerusalem”. It is a thesis supporting the recreation of Jewish national life in the ancient Jewish homeland. His thesis is influenced by strong nationalistic trends in Europe and, specifically, the unification of Italy in 1859.
The Hurva (also known as Rabbi Yehuda Hehasid) Synagogue is rebuilt after 140 years of lying in ruins. The synagogue is a spiritual center for all of Israel. In addition, it houses the Etz Haim Yeshiva, the largest yeshiva in Jerusalem. 1864  
  1865 The Palestine Exploration Fund is established in England. It is established by a group of energetic Gentile supporters of Jewish settlement in the Holy Land. Among them is archeologist Charles Warren, who conducted major excavations in Jerusalem and predicted Jewish self-rule in their homeland. (Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 16, pp. 1155)
  1866 The Doresh Zion (Seeker of Zion) Orphanage is established by strong supporters of the Hibbat Zion movement. Its name implies that the verse, “Zion has no seeker” (Jeremiah 30:17) describing the destruction, is no longer true. (- 123)
  1867 Rabbi Eliyahu Guttmacher joins Rabbi Kalisher in publishing Shalom Yerushalayim (Peace of Jerusalem), an adition to Rabbi Kalisher’s Drishat Zion.

The Reform movement removes any reference of Zion from its prayer services. The movement views Judaism as a religious, not a national, entity. (Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 16, pp. 1037)

Yeshivat Suf Dvash


1868 Rabbi Kalisher gives Napoleon III a detailed proposal for the “settlement of Jerusalem and the preservation of the nation” in the Holy Land.
  Foundation by North African Jews of the "Mahane Israel" quarter outside the Jerusalem walls. (Yeshivat Suf Dvash)
1870 Mikveh Israel, the first agricultural school in Eretz Yisrael is established by the non-Zionist Kia”ch organization (Hebrew acronym for - Alliance Israelite Universelle). The move is strongly encouraged by the Zionist Jewish Company for the Settlement of the Holy Land. (Encyclopedia Judaica)
1870 Rabbi Yaakov Reines (1839-1915), an esteemed Tora scholar also knowledgable in secular studies, corresponds with Rabbi Kalisher, affirming his support of Zionism and the need for a national solution to the Jewish problem.
1872 Rabbi Joseph Natunek (b. 1813) creates the first Zionist newspaper “Das Einige Israel,” in German. Among the issues he discusses is the need for a Jewish homeland in light of the persecution of Jews in Romania. ( - 214)

Petah Tikva

1873 Rabbi Akiva Schlesinger (1838-1922) publishes a plan for the organization of the Jewish people based on democratic principles. It is based on an orderly, military model. Eretz Yisrael is to be the Jewish homeland, with Hebrew as the national language. (




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29 Aug 2005 / 24 Av 5765 0