by Yael Adar
The rest of the world came to recognize and associate the founding of the Jewish homeland with those who came in the Second Aliyah. However, the immigrants of the First Aliyah really made what came later, possible. These anonymous pioneers came to the Land of Israel between 1882-1904.
The First Aliyah was composed primarily of individual families, rather than individuals, as were the subsequent aliyot. Moreover, it was this group of pioneers who paid the highest price, in terms of both hardship and actual loss of life. Roughly, 20,000-30,000 pioneers came in the First Aliyah. Their primary reasons for making Aliyah were the pogroms as well as for religious and agricultural reasons.
The First Aliyah Museum opened its doors to the public in February 1999. It was established in memory of Moshe & Sara Arisohn, who were among Zichron Ya’acov’s first settlers. According to Museum Director, Hanan Horowwitz, this museum is the first history museum in Israel whose exhibits are not made of authentic items. The modern exhibits, which are clearly labeled in English, are spread out over three floors and are comprised of reconstructions and a variety of multimedia aids.
A bit of cinematography history, a black and white film, that was shot in Israel in 1913 and which is considered the oldest film depicting Israel found a home in this museum. The movie showing Tel Aviv in its early days and figures such as Yosef Trumpeldor was thought to have been lost until 1997, when it was discovered in the Paris Film Archive.
The museum is located in a building that was built by Baron de Rothschild’s staff in 1892. Known at times as the Administration House, when built, it was the largest and most magnificent building in Israel. It was here, that in 1903 the Hebrew Teachers of the Land of Israel held their first meeting. The first national settler’s conference was held in Zichron Ya’acov, it dealt with opposition to the Uganda Plan. Over the years the building served many purposes. During World War I the Turks used it as a military hospital and a mosque. Settlers of Zichron Ya’acov also used it as a school.
This museum provides a better understanding of what life was like for those first brave pioneers who persevered through many hardships.
The First Aliyah Museum is located at 2 Hanadiv Street, Zichron Ya’acov.
Visiting Hours: Sunday closed, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM, Tuesday, 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM, Friday, 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM, Saturday, closed.