Immigration to Israel: The First Aliyah
(1882 - 1903)
The First Aliyah followed pogroms in Russia in 1881-1882. The first group of 14 Biluim arrived at Jaffa port on July 6, 1882. Most of the olim (immigrants) during this period came from Eastern Europe; a small number also arrived from Yemen. Members of Hibbat Zion and Bilu, two early Zionist movements that were the mainstays of the First Aliyah, defined their goal as
the political, national, and spiritual resurrection of the Jewish people in Palestine.
Though they were inexperienced idealists, most chose agricultural settlement as their way of life and founded moshavot — farmholders’ villages based on the principle of private property. Three early villages of this type were Rishon Lezion, Rosh Pina, and Zichron Ya’akov.
The First Aliyah settlers encountered many difficulties, including an inclement climate, disease, crippling Turkish taxation and Arab opposition. They required assistance and received scanty aid from Hibbat Zion, and more substantial aid from Baron Edmond de Rothschild. He provided the moshavot with his patronage and the settlers with economic assistance, thereby averting the collapse of the settlement enterprise. The Yemenite olim, most of whom settled in Jerusalem, were first employed as construction workers and later in the citrus plantations of the moshavot.
In all, nearly 35,000 Jews came to Palestine during the First Aliyah. Almost half of them left the country within several years of their arrival, some 15,000 established new rural settlements, and the rest moved to the towns.