Review of Pioneers of Religious Zionism

By Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins

Pioneers of Religious Zionism describes the lives and philosophies of the most important rabbinical Zionists of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: Yehuda ben Shlomo Alkalai (1798–1878), Zvi Hirsch Kalischer (1795–1874), Samuel Mohliver (1824–1891), Jacob Reines (1839–1915), Abraham Isaac Kook (1865–1935) and Judah Leib (Fishman) Maimon (1875–1962). They joined secular Zionists in the struggle for the re-establishment of a Jewish national home – an unusual act for their time – and had to contend with fierce opposition and condemnations from many rabbis in Eastern Europe, who believed that the return of the Jewish people to its ancestral homeland of Israel depended upon the arrival of the Messiah. In their lives and writings, Rabbis Alkali, Kalischer, Mohliver, Reines, Kook and Maimon provided the foundation on which modern religious Zionism was built.

Whoever wants to understand the religious roots of Zionism and the creation of the Jewish State must read this fascinating historical, well-researched, study of the rabbinic struggle to overcome the views of those who believed that they had to wait for the Messiah to bring on a Jewish state.

Raymond Goldwater has been active in Anglo-Jewish affairs for many years. After graduating in law at the University of London, he was Chairman of the Inter-University Jewish Federation of Great Britain in 1939–1940. For nineteen years he was an honorary officer of the United Synagogue of London, the largest synagogue body in Great Britain comprising more than thirty thousand members, and served as chairman of both its welfare and publication committees. A former chairman of the University Chaplaincy Board for Jewish students and of the Religious Advisory Committee of the Association for Jewish Youth, he contributed articles to Le’ela, a periodical published by the London School of Jewish Studies, and served as editor of Jewish Philosophy and Philosophers.

 

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