Jewish settlers in the Holy Land saw their efforts as an act of return to the Land of Israel, which they viewed as the religious and historical homeland of the Jewish people. The notion that the land had been promised to the Jews by God, the collective memory of the formative Jewish experience there during the Biblical and post-Biblical ages, the trauma of exile and the yearning for a return were among the most central elements of Jewish identity throughout the ages. The Jewish return to the Land of Israel at the end of the 19th century reflected a combination of these ideas with a Jewish response to the modern trends of nationalism and antisemitism.
“The Bible is our Mandate” said David Ben-Gurion, one of the foremost leaders of the Zionist movement and first Prime Minister of Israel. The return to the Holy Land was intimately connected with Jewish hopes of a Messianic Age and was often transformed into utopian aspirations for an ideal society. Fired by a drive to return, rebuild the land, and revive the nation, Jews “ascended” to the Land of Israel, established new settlements with names taken from the Bible, revived the ancient Hebrew language, and contributed to the infrastructure of an autonomous Jewish society. Without the Biblical and traditional context of this movement, the emergence of a new Jewish settlement in the Holy Land cannot be fully understood, and indeed it is often misinterpreted. This presentation will attempt to illustrate the Biblical context of the early Zionist settlement in the Holy Land by examining the writings and actions of early Jewish settlers as well as characteristic aspects of the new settlements.
Dr. Jonathan Kaplan holds a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in Jewish History from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His major research interests include the history of the Zionist Movement, the modern Jewish settlement of the Holy Land, and Israeli society. He has been a lecturer and administrator at the Rothberg International School at the Hebrew University and served as the school’s Director of Undergraduate Studies and later as Vice Provost.
Dr. Kaplan was born in the United States and immigrated to Israel in 1972; since 1986 he has been on the JUC faculty. He is currently working on a book dealing with the moderate “Weizmannist” trend of Zionism which dominated the movement during the years between the two world wars.
Please register for each day that you would like to attend. Registration is free and open to all.
Update your browser to view this website correctly.