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The Second Aliyah was an important and highly influential Israeli immigration movement (aliyah) that took place between 1904 and 1914, during which approximately 20,000 Jews, mostly from the Russian Empire, migrated to Ottoman Palestine.
The word Aliyah in Hebrew means ascent, which has the idealistic connotation of returning to the ancient Jewish homeland.
The Second Aliyah was a small part of the greater emigration of Jews from Eastern Europe which lasted from the 1870s until the 1920s. During this time, over two million Jews emigrated from Eastern Europe. The majority of these emigrants ended up in the United States where there was the greatest economic opportunity. Others ended up in South America, Australia, and South Africa and only a small fraction of Jews who migrated went to Palestine. Between the years 1907–1914 almost 1.5 million Jews went through Ellis Island, while only about 20,000 immigrated to Palestine.
Mass Jewish emigration from Eastern Europe occurred for two major reasons. The first was the growing antisemitism in Russia and the Pale of Settlement. The manifestations of this antisemitism were various pogroms, notably the Kishinev Pogrom and the pogroms that attended the 1905 Russian Revolution. The other major factor for emigration was economic hardship. The majority of the Jewish population of Eastern Europe was poor and they left in search of a better life.
Settlement in Palestine
In contrast to other destinations, Palestine offered very limited economic incentives for new immigrants. Palestine was not a place for poor immigrants to come and better their economic situation because there was very little industry. Thus, the majority of the Jewish immigrants found a livelihood through working the land.
The Second Aliyah immigrants were primarily idealists, inspired by the revolutionary ideals then sweeping the Russian Empire who sought to create a communal agricultural settlement system in Palestine. They thus founded the kibbutz movement. The first kibbutz, Degania, was founded in 1909.
The Second Aliyah is largely credited with the Revival of the Hebrew language and establishing it as the standard language for Jews in Israel. Eliezer Ben-Yehuda contributed to the creation of the first modern Hebrew dictionary. Although he was an immigrant of the First Aliyah, his work mostly bore fruit during the second.
Ya'ackov Ben-Dov became the first film maker to work in Hebrew.
- Gur Alroey, "Galveston and Palestine: Immigration and Ideology in the Early Twentieth Century," American Jewish Archives Journal 56 (2004): 129
- Gur Alroey (2004): 139
- Gur Alroey, Journey to Early-Twentieth-Century Palestine as a Jewish Immigrant Experience, Jewish Social Studies, 9 (2003) 28
- Ben-Gurion, David, From Class to Nation: Reflections on the Vocation and Mission of the Labor Movement (Hebrew), Am Oved (1976)