>>>The People in the First Aliyah
The People in the First Aliyah 2018-02-19T22:12:00+00:00

The People in the First Aliyah

Eliezer Ben Yehuda

(1858-1922)

Ben Yehuda was the first to understand the importance of a revival of the Hebrew language to the success of the Zionist enterprise. The Hebrew language would turn us into a nation. He published articles and newspapers on this subject and worked devotedly to arouse awareness of the issue. He endeavoured to make Hebrew the language of the family, the education system and newspapers (He founded the newspaper, HaZvi). He founded organizations to revive the language and he wrote a dictionary.
His vision was realized in the settlements of the First and Second Aliyah, on the streets of Israel (but not in Jerusalem, his hometown, where his activity aroused quite a bit of opposition). Hebrew schools were established in the settlements, the Hebrew language became the language of public matters and there it eventually became the national language.

The two things, without which the Jews could not become a nation are the land and the language.”

Hillel Yaffe


(1864-1936)

“The Jewish “Yishuv” and especially the agricultural villages will never forget the many years of excellent, devoted care provided by Dr. Hillel Yaffe. They were years of suffering, hunger and terrible epidemics. Dr. Hillel Yaffe’s name is engraved in the hearts of thousands of settlers as the symbol of a doctor –a human being, a doctor- a citizen, a doctor – a friend…”

Dr. R. Katznelson, director of Kupat Holim (HMO) in the moshavot

Hillel Yaffe was the doctor of the moshavot during the First Aliyah, a researcher, a public figure and a representative of “Hovevi Zion” in the Land of Israel.
He was born in the Ukraine in 1864. As a young man in the Diaspora, he became active in Zionism and came to Israel in 1891. He served as a doctor in Tiberias, Zichron Ya’akov, Jaffa and Haifa. He was one of the first to research malaria in the Land of Israel. He was very successful in Zichron Ya’akov and was known for his devoted care of sufferers of malaria in Hadera. He visited the moshava at least twice a week and managed to cure some of the people despite the high mortality rate.
In 1895, two years after he became the doctor in Zichron Ya’akov, Yaffe was offered the position of representative of “Hovevi Zion” in the Land of Israel, an offer which opened a new door in his life, that of a leader.

Thus, in addition to research and medicine, he also began a career in community and political work. He invested great efforts in public relations, raising money and spreading Zionist ideas. He traveled to Europe in order to raise money for various purposes, such as coming to the rescue of the first Hebrew boys’ school in Jaffa, which was on the verge of collapse. Yaffe said he shook the heavens and earth with his letters to the Baron.

Israel Belkind

(1861-1929)

He was one of the founders of the Bilu’im, a pioneer of the First Aliyah, the founder of Gedera, the first Bilu moshava. He was a Hebrew educator who contributed greatly to education in the Land of Israel.
In 1882, while a university student, he assembled a group of young people and established the Bilu movement to encourage “aliyah” to the Land of Israel. Bilu is an acronym for the Hebrew wordsונלכה” “בית יעקב לכו  “Beit Yaakov Lechu V’nelcha,” (“House of Jacob, come and we will go”) Isaiah, Cahpter 2, verse 5.
In June, 1882, Belkind brought a group of 14 Bilu’im to the Land of Israel, an event which signalled the start of the First Aliyah. At first they worked in farming at Mikve Israel School and lived in a house that they rented in the groves of Jaffa. Later, Belkind moved to Rishon LeZion, but in 1884 he was forced to leave after being accused of organizing opposition to the Baron Rothschild’s clerks. He established Gedera, the first Bilu moshava, however, he never got used to the life of a farmer and he left.
Olga Hankin, the wife of Yehoshua Hankin, was Belkind’s sister. His mother’s brother was Avshalom Feinberg, one of the founders of the underground movement, Nili.

Yehoshua Hankin

(1864-1945)

He was the son of a pioneering family that moved from Jaffa to Rishon LeZion. There he could realize his dream to farm the Land of Israel. His house was the first one that was built in the moshava. His father’s knowledge of agriculture enabled him to be independent and not sink into debts like the other farmers, who had to comply with the orders issued by Baron Rothschild’s clerks.
In Rishon, the Hankin family argued with the Baron’s clerks who insisted that every farmer on the moshava sign an agreement so they could stay in the settlement. The Hankins were not willing to sign, nor were they willing to leave. It was only after a representative of “Hibat Zion” asked Olga Belkind, Yehoshua Hankin’s fiancée, to convince the family to leave, did they move to Gedera, which was not under the guardianship of the Baron and his clerks. There, the couple married. The family established good relations with the Arabs in the area. Yehoshua learned Arabic and was a regular guest at the homes of Arab farmers (fellahin) and Arab land owners. He learned their customs and got to know them well.
Hankin returned to Jaffa, where he began to work for the redemption of lands, in other words, buying land from Arabs and selling it for Jewish settlement. In the framework of “redemption of lands”, Hankin purchased the land where many settlements were established: Rehovot, Hadera, Merhavia, 51,000 dunams in the Jezreel Valley on which Nahalal and Kfar Yehezkel were built, Tel Yosef and Ein Harod. He also purchased the lands of Emek Hefer, Kibbutz Revivim, and others as well.
In 1932, he was appointed director of the Israel Land Development Company. In the last 20 years of his life, he was involved in the acquisition of approximately 600,000 dunams.

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