The beginning of the First Aliyah


Towards the end of 1881, the flow of immigrants to Palestine began to increase. Nationalistic and Zionist ideas became popular and the persecution of Jews in Russia led to what was called afterwards, “The First Aliyah”. In addition to the immigrants from Europe, immigrants from Yemen who believed that 1881 was the year of redemption, arrived in Palestine as well as group of members of “Bilu”. Most of the immigrants settled in the cities, but some of them established new colonies and agricultural farms with the support of Baron Rothschild. “The First Aliyah” laid the foundations for an independent Yishuv in Palestine.
Among the new arrivals were Eliezer Ben-Yehuda and his wife Dvora. They chose to live in Jerusalem. At first Eliezer worked for the “Havazeleth” journal, and later founded two other newspapers. In those days, Hebrew was in use as a written language and in religious rituals. Ben-Yehuda wanted to turn Hebrew into a spoken language. After the birth of his son, Itamar, he spoke only Hebrew with him. He tried to convince other families in Jerusalem to speak only Hebrew with their children, but he had little success. Ben-Yehuda wrote textbooks on the Hebrew language, and established “The Hebrew Language Committee” in 1890. He also worked on a comprehensive Hebrew dictionary. The use of Hebrew, however, became common only after the "War of the Languages” – a dispute in the Yishuv about the use of German during studies at the “Technion College". The supporters of the use of Hebrew won, and thus the amount of people who made daily use of Hebrew in the Yishuv, expanded.