Judah Alkalai (1798-1878)

Rabbi and forerunner of modern Zionism.

Judah Alkalai(1798-1878)Alkalai was born in Sarajevo (now in Yugoslavia) and brought up in Jerusalem. He felt that the Jews should not wait for the Messiah to restore them to the Land of Israel but should make every effort to go there themselves to settle. The outstanding feature of his first book is his revolutionary attitude toward redemption as opposed to the traditional religious interpretations. Teshuvah ("repentance") which, according to the Talmud is the precondition for redemption, is interpreted by Alkalai in its literal sense, i.e. shivah, the return to Erez Israel.

Alkalai aroused strong opposition in Orthodox circles, which rejected this modern concept of redemption. However, he continued to publish pamphlet after pamphlet, stressing that the settlement of Erez Israel was the primary solution to the Jewish problem in Europe. Alkalai called for the introduction of the tithe for financing settlement, for the achievement of international recognition of Jewish Erez Israel, for the restoration of the assembly of elders as a Jewish parliament, for the revival of Hebrew (particularly spoken Hebrew), for Jewish agriculture, and for a Jewish army. He expressed the hope that Great Britain would supervise the execution of the program.

In 1852 Alkalai visited England in order to propagate his idea for a return to Erez Israel, and later traveled to several other West European countries seeking support for his plan. In all, he published 18 pamphlets as well as many articles in Hebrew newspapers.

Entry taken from "Junior Judaica, Encyclopedia Judaica for Youth" CD-ROM by C.D.I. Systems 1992 (LTD) and Keter.

 

 

 

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12 Apr 2005 / 3 Nisan 5765 0