Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Bilu (a Hebrew acronym based on a verse from the Book of Isaiah (2:5) "Beit Ya'akov Lekhu Ve-nelkha" ("House of Jacob, let us go (up)"; בילו) was a group of Jewish idealists aspiring to settle in the Land of Israel with the political purpose to establish Jewish National Homeland there.
The wave of pogroms of 1881-1884 and anti-Semitic "May Laws" of 1882 introduced by Alexander III of Russia prompted mass emigration of Jews from the Russian Empire. More than 2 million Jews fled Russia between 1881 and 1920. Vast majority of them went to the US, but some decided to make what later became known as the first aliyah.
The first group of Biluim was founded in 1882 by fourteen ex-university students from Kharkov who in July arrived to Palestine, then a province of the Ottoman Empire. The same month, after an unsuccessful attempt to attend a Jewish farming school in Mikveh Israel, they established 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 wine industry in Palestine. In 1886, construction began on the Rishon Le-Zion winery and eventually it became a successful wine-exporting enterprise.
- Rishon LeZion#List of notables in Rishon LeZion's history contains Biluim
- The BILU movement and Hovevei Zion at the WZO
- BILU at the Jewish Virtual Library
- A history of Israel
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