|Aliyah to Israel and settlement|
|The Return to Zion • The Old Yishuv
|Prior to the founding of Israel|
|First Aliyah • Second Aliyah • During WWI • Third Aliyah • Fourth Aliyah • Fifth Aliyah • During and after WWII • Berihah
|After the founding of Israel|
|Operation Magic Carpet • Operation Ezra and Nehemiah • Jewish exodus from Arab lands • Polish aliyah in 1968 • Aliyah from the Soviet Union in the 1970s • Aliyah from Ethiopia • Aliyah from the Commonwealth of Independent States in the 1990s • Aliyah from Latin America in the 2000s
|Judaism • Zionism • Law of Return • Jewish homeland • Yerida • Galut • Jewish Messianism
|Persons and organizations|
|Theodor Herzl • World Zionist Organization • Knesset • Nefesh B'Nefesh • El Al
|Jewish history • Jewish diaspora • History of the Jews in the Land of Israel • Yishuv • History of Zionism • History of Israel • Israeli Jews • Anti-Zionism • Revival of Hebrew language • Religious Zionism • Haredim and Zionism • Anti-Zionism
The First Aliyah (also The Farmers' Aliyah) was the first modern widespread wave of Zionist aliyah. Jews who migrated to Palestine in this wave came mostly from Eastern Europe and from Yemen. This wave of aliyah began in 1881–82 and lasted until 1903. An estimated 25,000–35,000 Jews immigrated to Ottoman Syria during the First Aliyah. While all throughout history Jews immigrated to Israel (such as the Vilna Gaon's group), these were generally smaller groups with more religious motives, and did not have a purely secular political goal in mind.
The immigration to Palestine occurred as part of the mass emigrations from Eastern Europe of approximately 3.5 million people that occurred towards the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century.
Russian persecution of Jews was also a factor. In 1881, the czar Alexander II of Russia was assassinated, and the ruling bodies blamed the Jews for the assassination. Consequently, in addition to the May Laws, major anti-Jewish pogroms swept the Pale of Settlement. A movement called Hibbat Zion (love of Zion) spread across the Pale (helped by Leon Pinsker's pamphlet Auto-Emancipation), as well as the similar Bilu movement, which both encouraged Jews to immigrate to Palestine.
Jews emigrated in relatively high numbers, proportionate to the Jewish population. About 2 million of the 3.5 million went to the United States. Only a small minority of 25,000 Jews moved to Palestine. Immigration took place in two primary stages 1881-2 and 1890-1.
The first central committee for the settlement of Israel and Syria was established by a convention of "Unions for the Agricultural Settlement of Israel" (Pukshan Congress) held on January 11, 1882 in Romania. The committee was the first organization to form group aliyahs, such as the Jewish passenger ships it set sail from Galaţi.
After the first wave (early 1880s) there was another spike in aliyah in 1890. The reasons for the increase were:
Nearly all of the Jews from Eastern Europe before that time came from traditional Jewish families, hoping to improve their lives.. The immigrants that were part of the First Aliyah, however, came more out of a connection to the land of their ancestors. Most of these immigrants worked as artisans or in small trade, but many also worked in agriculture. Only some of them came in an organized fashion, with the help of Hovevei Zion, but most of them were unorganized, in their 30s, and had families.
The first group of immigrants from Yemen came approximately seven months before most of the Eastern European Jews who arrived in Palestine.
Most settlements met with financial difficulties and most of the settlers were not proficient in farming. Baron Edmond James de Rothschild took several of the settlements under his wing, which helped them survive until more settlers with farming experience arrived in subsequent aliyot.
Immigrants of the First Aliyah also contributed to existing towns and settlements, notably Petah Tikva. The first neighbourhoods of Tel Aviv (Neve Shalom and Neve Tzedek) were also built by members of the aliyah, although it was not until the Second Aliyah that Tel Aviv was officially founded.
Israeli historian Benny Morris wrote:
But the major cause of tension and violence throughout the period 1882-1914 was not accidents, misunderstandings or the attitudes and behaviors of either side, but objective historical conditions and the conflicting interests and goals of the two populations. The Arabs sought instinctively to retain the Arab and Muslim character of the region and to maintain their position as its rightful inhabitants; the Zionists sought radically to change the status quo, buy as much land as possible, settle on it, and eventually turn an Arab-populated country into a Jewish homeland.
For decades the Zionists tried to camouflage their real aspirations, for fear of angering the authorities and the Arabs. They were, however, certain of their aims and of the means needed to achieve them. Internal correspondence amongst the olim from the very beginning of the Zionist enterprise leaves little room for doubt.
Morris provides excerpts from three letters written in 1882 by these first arrivals:
The Jewish Virtual Library  says of the First Aliyah that nearly half the settlers did not stay in Palestine.