House of Jacob Blues

Founding manifesto of the BILU movement, written in French in Constantinople, 1882

January 21 1882    1 Shevat 5642


Beth Jacob Socialists

In response to a wave of pogroms in southern Russia and Ukraine, young Jewish revolutionaries founded a new Zionist movement called Davio, based on the Hebrew acronym of the biblical verse “Speak to the children of Israel and let them go forward.” Their aim was to promote immigration to the land of Israel from Russia, and they quickly changed the name of their movement to Bilu, for the verse “House of Jacob, come, let us go.” Some twenty members actually made it to Ottoman Palestine and tried to join the recently established Jewish farming colonies there, but their fiercely secular revolutionary ideology made their integration into the mostly traditionally religious colonies a real challenge. Most of them ultimately left and went back to Russia, but the few who stayed established their own settlement, Gedera. Despite their extremely limited impact, they’ve become a symbol of the secular Zionist settlement movement.