Bilu ( _he. ביל"ו; acronym based on a verse from the Book of Isaiah (2:5) "בית יעקב לכו ונלכה" ""Beit Ya'akov Lekhu Ve-nelkha" ("House of Jacob, let us go [up] ") was a group of Jewish idealists aspiring to settle in the Land of Israel with the political purpose to redeem Eretz Yisrael and re-establish the Jewish State on it.

The wave of pogroms of 1881-1884 and anti-Semitic "May Laws" of 1882 introduced by Tsar Alexander III of Russia prompted mass emigration of Jews from the Russian Empire. More than 2 million Jews fled Russia between 1880 and 1920. Vast majority of them emigrated to the United States, but some decided to make aliyah.

The first group of Biluim was founded by fourteen ex-university students from Kharkov who in July 1882 arrived in Palestine, a province within the Ottoman Empire which in ancient times had been the site of the historical Jewish homeland. The same month, after an unsuccessful attempt to attend a Jewish farming school in Mikveh Israel, they joined Hovevei Zion pioneers in establishing Rishon LeZion ("First to Zion") as an agricultural cooperative on the purchased lands of the Arab village Eyun Kara. It lacked sufficient fresh water and within a few months, facing starvation, most of them left.

They turned to Baron Edmond James de Rothschild for help, and he provided funds in order to create a wine industry in Palestine. In 1886, construction began on the Rishon Le-Zion winery and eventually it became a successful wine-exporting enterprise.

According to "Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary" (86-volume edition), the region's export of wine and cognac in 1895 alone amounted to 277,000. []

With Rothshild's help, the Biluim also founded Zichron Yaakov. In 1884, eight members of the group were offered land in Gedera.

See also

*List of Rishon LeZion notables contains Biluim, among others
*Immigration to Palestine and Israel

The Bilu's aspirations were linked to those of other Zionists of the time such as Hillel and Leon Pinsker.

External links

* [ The BILU movement and Hovevei Zion] at the WZO
* [ BILU] at the Jewish Virtual Library
* [ A history of Israel: Bilu]
* [ Statutes of the BILU Society] at

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