First and Second Aliyot

The First Aliya (1882-1903) – the first modern widespread wave of Zionist aliya (emigration to Eretz Yisrael):

A large wave of Jewish emigration began following the pogroms in Russia during 1881-1882. The majority emigrated to the United States and only a few went to live in Eretz Yisrael. At the same time, the national concept was strengthened amongst Russian and Romanian Jews and "Hovevei Zion" groups were set up in many towns. One of the better known was the "Bilu" group of young people and students. From both of these countries aliya increased after the summer of 1882. This was also the time of the beginning of aliya from Yemen.

Between 1882 and 1884, those who came from Eastern Europe laid the foundations for six First Aliya villages. Petach Tikva, which was established in 1878 and then abandoned, was rebuilt. Baron Rothschild from France aided the setting up of these villages and it is doubtful that they would have stood ground without his help.

After a break of a few years another wave of immigration came in 1890-1891 and they established more villages. The immigrants also went to live in the towns, in particular Jaffa and Jerusalem. Not only did they set up villages but also established the first Hebrew schools and renewed the Hebrew language.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Baron Rothschild ended his direct involvement in the support of new settlements and transferred the management and settlement development to the Jewish Colonization Association. Within a few years the JCA established a new block of settlements in the Lower Galilee. 25,000 Jews came to Eretz Yisrael during the time of the First Aliya. The majority went to live in existing towns but a few thousand settled the villages and laid the foundations for the New Settlements.

The Second Aliya (1903-1914):

As opposed to the First Aliya immigrants that settled in agricultural villages and were mainly mature adults and families, the immigrants that came from 1903 onwards consisted more of young singles. 35,000 people were part of the Second Aliya until 1914. The Second Aliya laid the foundations for the institutions of social and political bodies of the Jewish Yishuv: the kibbutz; the Hebrew town - Tel Aviv; "Hashomer", the first political parties; Workers Union; and health and aid institutions. At this time, the first Hebrew high school was established and foundations were laid for the institutions of higher education.

Immigrants of the Second Alyia also deeply made their mark in the fields of art, literature and culture and the small Jewish settlement of Eretz Yisrael became the Hebrew creative center for the whole world. Writers like Yosef Haim Brener and the young S.Y. Agnon wrote and created here. The Hebrew Language celebrated its victory in the "language war".

Many future leaders of Israel came with the Second Aliya: the first three Prime Ministers (Ben Gurion, Sharett and Eshkol) and the second and third Presidents (Ben Zvi and Shazar).

Tension developed between those of the First and Second Aliyot since each side claimed first rights. There is no dispute however that both Aliyot, first and second, helped create the new Jewish Yishuv in Eretz Yisrael, which eventually established the State of Israel in 1948.

Written by Dr. Mordechai Naor.

The stamps were issued in 2003. Design: Yigal Gabay.