By Rabbi Ari Enkin
Pioneers of Religious Zionism explores the life of the six most prominent leaders of religious Zionism in the 19th and early 20thcentury. These are Rabbis Yehuda Alkali, Zvi Hirsch Kalischer, Samuel Mohliver, Jacob Reines, Abraham Isaac Kook, and Judah Leib (Fishman) Maimon.
There is roughly thirty pages devoted to each of these rabbis, where we learn about their early years and education, political opinions, and their relationship and influence within the Zionist movement. A central feature of all these rabbis’ lives is that that by collaborating with the secular Zionist movement, they were victim to fierce opposition, condemnations, and defamations from their colleagues in Europe and the Land of Israel.
The biographies are well written and balanced. The author is trying to present these rabbis’ lives in a historical context in an easy to digest scholarly format that is accessible to all. The book clearly doesn’t cover everything there is to know about each of these rabbis, but in the pages devoted to each one, the author does a fine job in ensuring that we are exposed to the most important points, struggles, accomplishments, and highlights in their lives.
Although a devoted religious Zionist, I’ve never been especially well read on the lives of these rabbis (with the exception of Rav Kook, thanks to “An Angel Among Men”) or the history of religious Zionism, the Mizrachi movement, and the like. I definitely know more now than I did before I read the book. It’s a very handy resource when needing basic information and summaries of the lives of these six rabbis.
This review originally appeared on Torah Book Reviews.