The name “Hibbat Zion” includes a number of Zionist organizations that were established in Eastern Europe at the end of the 19th century. They believed in having Jews come to settle the Land of Israel.
The “Hovevei Zion” movement began spontaneously in several places, with no formal organization. Tens of such unrelated “Hovevei” Zion groups sprung up in Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Europe. Yet they all shared a common goal. They all believed in the need to “ascend” to the Land of Israel, to settle it, to work the land and finally, to establish a Jewish state. The members of these groups came from different streams, from assimilated Jews to famous rabbis, but their common aspiration was the return of the Jews to the Land of Israel. These groups had many different names, including Brotherhood of Zion, Lovers of Zion, Sons of Zion, Return to Zion, Love of Zion, Kibbutz Nidchei Israel, The Remnants of Israel, Ezra and Zrubavel.
By the end of 1881, more than thirty “Hovevei Zion” organizations were founded in Romania.
The reasons for the awakening of “Hovevi Zion”
The “Storms in the Negev”: From 1881-1882 there were pogroms in Southern Russia which were called the “Storms in the Negev”. More than 200 Jewish communities were attacked with the encouragement of the government. These pogroms caused the Jews to seek solutions to their problems. Some moved to the United States while others organized into groups of “Hovevi Zion”, which concentrated on finding a solution.
The refusal to grant citizenship to the Jews of Romania: Romania, which was established in 1859 had promised to grant emancipation to the Jews. However, they did not fulfill this promise and wrote in their constitution that only Christians can receive citizenship. The Jews’ disappointment led them to look for other channels, outside of Romania.
The reaction of Jews to the emigration of Jews to the United States: The fear that Jews who emigrated to the US would assimilate into the American society was one of the reasons for the awakening of a national movement. There was an attempt to sway these people to move to Israel rather than to the US.
The link to the Land of Israel: The desire of every Jew to return to the Land of Israel and await the coming of the Messiah. Russian anti-Semitism caused a reawakening of the desire to “ascend” to Israel and establish a Jewish state.
The awakening of nationalism in Europe: Throughout the 19th century, a wave of nationalistic revolutions, known as the “Spring of Nations” swept over the people of Western and Central Europe. This awakening also brought about a similar nationalistic awakening among the Jews, who wanted to establish a Jewish state In the Land of Israel.
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