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Samuel Mohilever

Rabbi Samuel Mohilever (1824-1898), also Shmuel Mohilever, was a pioneer of Religious Zionism and one of the founders of the Hovevei Zion movement.

Mohilever was born in Głębokie (now Hlybokaye, Belarus) and studied in the Volozhin yeshiva.

After the pogroms following the May Laws, he helped found the Hovevei Zion in Warsaw, and convinced Baron Edmond James de Rothschild to financially support a settlement called Ekron (now Qiryat Ekron).

Mohilever was made the rabbi of Białystok in 1883 and worked to promote Zionism by convincing Białystok's Jews to move to Petah Tikva, then a struggling settlement.

In 1884, Mohilever was elected to the presidency of the Hovevei Zion conference, with Leon Pinsker serving as chairman. Mohilever served as chairman in the 1887 and 1889 conferences. Many of his contributions were of a religious nature - Mohilever insured that Jewish farming in Palestine complied with Jewish laws and tradition by setting up a rabbinical committee to oversee it.

In 1893 a series of differences with the movement's main office in Odessa led to decision that another centre be established under Mohilever's leadership. The new office, named Mizrahi, (A Hebrew abbreviation of merkaz ruhani – "spiritual centre") was tasked with Zionist propaganda and cultural work among orthodox Jews.

In 1897 Mohilever sent a message to the First Zionist Congress: 'It is essential', he wrote, 'that the Congress unite all "Sons of Zion" who are true to our cause to work in complete harmony and fraternity, even if there be among them differences of opinion regarding religion.'

When in 1901 Rabbi Yitzchak Yaacov Reines and other of Mohilever's disciples re-established the organization, they did so with the same stance, spirit and name. Mohilever had successfully inspired the amalgamation of traditional Jewish orthodoxy with practical Zionism.[1]

The kibbutz Gan Shmuel was named after Mohilever.


  1. ^ Arthur Hertzberg, The Zionist Idea, (Meridian, New York, 1960), p.400-402.


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