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Religious Zionist movement. Mizrachi’s slogan is “The land of Israel for the people of Israel according to the Torah of Israel.” Religious leaders wanting to work with secularists had been part of the Zionist movement since its inception in Basle in 1898. As a political party Religious Zionism made its initial appearance on the Zionist scene on March 4, 1902, when Rabbi Isaac Jacob Reines convened the Mizrachi conference in Vilna. In 1902, religious Jews took sharp exception to the Fifth Zionist Congress’ proposal that the Zionist organization conduct a kind of secularist educational program. The Mizrachi rallied many religious Jews to its side and fought secularism within the Zionist movement.

The Mizrachi soon had active branches wherever Zionism took root, becoming particularly active in education. Mizrachi’s network of religious schools eventually became part of the Israel government’s religious school system. The Mizrachi Organization of America built and sponsored Bar Ilan University, the first religious institution of higher academic learning in Israel.

Mizrachi was formally organized in the U.S. after 1913, although groups existed even earlier. The first national convention was held in Cincinnati in 1914 following an intensive tour of the country by Rabbi Meyer Bar Ilan, who eventually became the president and leader of the world Mizrachi movement. Affiliated with the Mizrachi Organization of America are the Mizrachi Women, who have concentrated on education and child care, and B’nai Akiva, the Mizrachi Youth Organization.

Hapoel Hamizrachi, or the Mizrachi Worker, was founded in 1922, when religious young people began to arrive in Palestine in increasing numbers. They formulated a program based on the slogan of Torah Ve-Avodah, or Torah and Labor. Despite the hardships and discrimination it suffered because of its religious principles, the movement grew rapidly both in Israel and abroad. Hapoel Hamizrachi worked with the Mizrachi in the world Mizrachi movement. In 1955, it merged with Mizrachi to form one united religious party within Zionism. Kibbutz Hadati, Hapoel Hamizrachi’s organization of religious collective settlements, played an important role in Israel’s defense and growth. (See also Israel, Government and Political Parties.)

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