September 1: Rav Kook

Abraham Isaac Kook arrived in British Mandatory Palestine on this date in 1919 to become Jerusalem’s chief rabbi and, two years later, the chief rabbi of Palestine. Kook (1865-1935) was a Lithuanian child prodigy who became a prominent rabbi, a father of religious Zionism (which he saw as a necessary and vital alternative to Zionism’s […]

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August 18: Ahad Ha’am

Ahad Ha’am (Asher Ginsberg), the founder of “cultural Zionism” who advocated for Israel to be “a Jewish state and not merely a state of Jews,” was born in a Hasidic family near Kiev on this date in 1856. Though he broke with Orthodox Judaism, he retained a deep commitment to Judaism’s ethical ideals. As a […]

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April 2: Nathan Birnbaum

Nathan Birnbaum, who coined the term “Zionism” and was the chief organizer of the historic 1908 Czernowitz Conference for the Yiddish Language, died on this date in 1937. A decade before Theodor Herzl launched the Zionist movement, Birnbaum founded Kadimah (“Forward”), the first Jewish nationalist student association in Vienna, and established Selbstemanzipation! (“Self-Emancipation!”), a journal […]

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