Bilu ( _he. ביל"ו;
acronymbased 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 Israelwith the politicalpurpose to redeem Eretz Yisraeland re-establish the Jewish Stateon it.
The wave of
pogromsof 1881-1884 and anti-Semitic" May Laws" of 1882 introduced by Tsar Alexander III of Russiaprompted 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
Kharkovwho in July 1882 arrived in Palestine, a province within the Ottoman Empirewhich 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 Zionpioneers in establishing Rishon LeZion("First to Zion") as an agricultural cooperativeon 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 Rothschildfor help, and he provided funds in order to create a wineindustry 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. [http://www.cultinfo.ru/fulltext/1/001/007/076/76301.htm]
With Rothshild's help, the Biluim also founded
Zichron Yaakov. In 1884, eight members of the group were offered land in Gedera.
*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.
* [http://www.wzo.org.il/home/movement/bilu.htm The BILU movement and Hovevei Zion] at the WZO
* [http://www.us-israel.org/jsource/Zionism/bilu.html BILU] at the Jewish Virtual Library
* [http://www.multied.com/Israel/1882Bilu.html A history of Israel: Bilu]
* [http://www.zionistarchives.org.il/ZA/SiteE/pShowView.aspx?GM=Y&ID=16&Teur=The%20%93Bilu%94%20movement%20%201882%20%96%201883 Statutes of the BILU Society] at zionistarchives.org.il
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