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The Zionist Movement

Foreword to the Zionist articles series

By M. Porat

Edited by Judy Feinsilver Montel

The Volozhin Zionist movement was born with the birth of the Volozhin congregation.

Rabbi Hayim emphasized the role of agricultural settlements in Erets Israel and filled a leading part in its establishment. The Volozhin congregation of his time committed itself to support the Jerusalem Kehila permanently, and each year fulfilled the commitment (page 54).

"A society for the benefit of Holy Land settlements has been established in Volozhin, which is headed by Hanaziv the prominent Eyts Hayim Yeshiva head” This was printed in “Hamaguid” Journal on December 1886 (page 56).

It happened in the middle of the 19th Century: Seven times Rabbi Avrom Hayim Marshak took his walk from Volozhin to the Holy City and seven times he returned to his hometown beaten, wounded and robbed. From his eighth journey he did not return. R' Avrom Hayim was buried on the Mount of Olives in a grave that was designated for a great Sage.(read “Reb Avrom Hayim Marshak” page 510)

Inside “Eyts Hayim” Yeshiva, at the end of the 19th century, the Zionist organizations: “Hibat Zion", “Ness Ziyona” and “Netsah Isroel” were founded. Our national poet H.N. Bialik took part in the foundation of “Netsah Isroel” (page 120).

The Zionist organizations flourished from the beginning of the 20th Century until the outbreak of WWII. Hundreds of Volozhin youngsters were involved in activities as members or sympathizers of the many Zionist movements that grew up on the soil of the friendly Shtetl.

It began with the youngsters of “Tseyirey Zion” and “Liberty and Revival” (page 393) before and during the First World War. The Zionist organizations became bigger and more important in the nineteen twenties and thirties: Branches of “Hakhaluts” (page 396) and “Hamizrakhi” (page 405), preparation sites for Aliya in “Male Berki” in Rudnik and at the sawmills inside Volozhin, Nest of “Beytar” (page 410) and Hakhshara of “Hashomer Hatsayir” (page 422).

Young men and women, many of them made Aliya, and ignoring it they saved themselves from the terrible holocaust. They took part in creating Israel and contributed their energy and power enthusiastically for this purpose.

Many of them ran away from the Nazi beasts into the wood ands joined the partisans and the Red Army. Some of them survived the war and made Aliya after the victory.

But the great majority perished. They were murdered together with their parents, brothers, sisters, colleagues and friends by the Germans and their local collaborators inside Volozhin.


[Page 54]

Reb Hayim's contribution to establish
a settlement of “Misnagdim” in the Land of Israel

Written by E. Leoni

Translated by M. Porat

Edited by Judy Feinsilver Montel

The Zionist Movement in Volozhin reached its apex in the nineteen thirties, but we can find its origins at the beginning of the 19th century. And who was the initiator if not Rabbi Hayim? And whence did it arrive if not from the Yeshiva?

As Rabbi Hayim planted the love of Torah study into the hearts of his fellow townsmen, so he influenced them to love Zion (Hibat Zion). Rabbi Natan Friedland, a former Yeshiva student told in one of his orations that he heard about Rabbi Hayim's saying: “I'm waiting every day for the Rebetzin to knock on my door to stop my study and start to go toward the Holy Land because the Messiah has arrived.”

Two messengers from Jerusalem visited Volozhin between the years 1781 and 1788, Avraham Hakohen and Hilel Mizrakhi (one of them Ashkenaz the other Sefarade). They asked the Volozhin congregation to support the Jerusalem Kehila permanently each year, because without outside sustenance it could not exist. The Volozhin congregation despite its poverty committed itself and each year fulfilled the commitment.

Rabbi Hayim filled a leading part in the establishment of a settlement of “Misnagdim” in Eretz Isroel. Thirty one years after many of the Baal Shem Tov's Hassidim arrived in the Holy Land a group of Hassidic opponents (Misnagdim), disciples of the Vilna Gaon with their leader R' Menahem Mendl from Shklov made aliya and settled in Jerusalem in order to strengthen the Misnagdim's (opponents to the Hassidic movement) community in the Holy Town.

Rabbi Hayim emphasized the role of agricultural settlements that should be established in Erets Israel.


[Page 56]

Hibat Zion - Starting point of the Zionist Movement in Volozhin

Written by E. Leoni

Translated by M. Porat

Edited by Judy Feinsilver Montel

Volozhin was one of the first towns to establish a society of “Hibat Zion". Fayvl Bunimovitsh represented the Odessa Committee of the “Society supporting the Jewish peasants and craftsmen in the Holy Land” in the town.

The activity of Volozhin “Zion Lovers” “Khovevey Zion” was reflected mostly by collecting donations for Jewish workers in Erets Israel and for the Hebrew School in Jaffa.

Hanaziv, the Yeshiva head, was considered the father of the Volozhin Khovevey Zion members.

The following announcement was printed in the “Hamaguid” Journal in December 1886: “We have news for the readers of “Hamaguid". A society for the benefit of Holy Land settlements has been established in Volozhin, which is headed by Hanaziv the prominent “Eyts Hayim” Yeshiva head.”

This announcement preceded Hanaziv's letter which was published in “Hamaguid". The Rabbi called for settling the Land of Israel, building it and planting fruit trees there. The writer Moyshe Leyb Lilienblum said that in his opinion Hanaziv's letter was worth more than articles written by dozens of journalists.

Thr preacher R' Bezalel Zadikov founded a Zionist Organization in Volozhin on 1892 (Hameylits Nov. 1893). Many Volozhin citizens influenced by Rabbi Hayim's request had made Aliya to fulfill the commandment of the building of the Land.

At the Jerusalem cemetery on the Mount of Olives tombs of many Volozhiners'were established in the years 1862-1864. The date of their Aliya is not known, but we have to assume that they lived there for many years. (See “Reb Avrom Hayim Marshak” VYB page 510)

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