Belkind Israel
Born: 1861
Immigrated: 1882
Arrived: 1882
Residence in the Village:
Occupation: farmer, teacher, headmaster
Departed: 1901
Departed to:
Died: 1929
Belonging to Group
Belkind Meir
 
Belkind (Glaztuck) Shifra
Kreinin Yaacov
 
    Belkind Israel   Belkind (Kreinin) Duba    
Children:   Belkind Ahsa

Israel Belkind was born in Blahuisk, Belarus in the Minsk region. He studied Hebrew and Bible at home with his parents, enthusiastic lovers of Zion: his father, Meir, who was one of the first Hebrew teachers in the diaspora and his mother Shifra a literate person, who knew well the Bible and spoke Hebrew with her children. He did his general studies in Mohilev at the government's high school and at the university in Kharkov.
Following the riots that occurred in Russia in 1881 ("The storms in the Negev"), Jews woke up from their dream for a better future there. Upon the initiative of Israel Belkind, in January 1882, an association of youngster was established, which aimed to leave the Russian exile, immigrate to Eretz Israel and work for the revival of the people and the country. The name of the association was "DABIO" - Speak to the people of Israel and they will travel.
After months of preparations, including the change of the group's name to "BILU" – "The family of Jacob please go and we will (also) go"- , the first fourteen Bilu pioneers, led by Israel Belkind, arrived in Jaffa and began work as agricultural laborers in Mikveh Israel. Later, as per the Baron Rothschild's orders, they settled in Rishon Lezion and their hut became the cultural and social center for the township's youngsters.
Israel Belkind, the initiator of the idea of immigration to Eretz Israel and the moving spirit in all activities of the initial group of the Bilu pioneers, soon began to rebel against the Baron's clerk attitude to the township's inhabitants. Signed by all residents, he sent a letter to Paris with of complaints against the Baron's representatives, the manager Hirsh and the gardener Diggor. As a response, to this, he was expelled from the township and the all residents - including his family – were forbidden to lodge him in their houses even only for one night. It should be noted that despite the desire of the Rishon Lezion's people to oppose his expulsion and to prevent them from suffering, Israel Belkind voluntarily left and moved Jaffa.
In Jaffa he knew hard times of hunger and lack of place to stay. Sometimes, he walked in the darkness to his township Rishon Lezion to stay there until morning, and was then walking back to Jaffa. With the help of the Lovers of Zion in Odessa, a piece of land and a farm were bought for him, in Gedera which was just founded by the Biluim, and he became a farmer. But not for long. When being elected to the committee of the Zion Lovers, founded in Jaffa, he saw here a wide scope for activities for the development of the Jewish population in Eretz Israel and - abandoned his farm. Israel Belkind returns to Rishon, working in his brother's Shimshon farmstead, participating in the cultural life of the township, organizing a children's choir and teaching them the songs of Imber. In 1885, when the township reached three years, a celebration was held initiated by him, during which the first ever blue and white flag with the Star of David, was raised. A few days later he wrote a letter to his friend Dubnov in which he described Rishon Lezion, the a/m celebration and the flag, "and me and Fanny Meyerowitz were busy in the meantime making a flag. This was a flag that we did: a white cloth, two strips of azure at the two ends of an azure Star of David in the middle ". ("Meyamim Rishonim", magazine of the Resurrection in Israel, the editor A. Druyanov). Upon the second outbreak of Rishon Lezion peasant's revolt against the baron, his brother, Shimshon Belkind, was one of the rebels' leader and had been expelled, as his brother before him, from the township and again Israel was forced to leave the place. In the year 1889, he founded a Hebrew school in Jaffa. When the school was closed due to financial difficulties, in 1892, he was for two years, a school teacher in the "Alliance" school in Jerusalem and wrote textbooks for students. Later, he wandered about a year among Arab villages on both sides of the Jordan, studied the country and its people, learned the Arabic language, created a theory about the Jewish origins of the Arabs and published the book "Eretz Israel Bazman Haze". In the year 1900 he returned again to Rishon Lezion and ran the first Hebrew school ("Chaviv"). Along with his teachers he acted to revive the Hebrew language and attended meetings of the teachers (preceding the Teachers Union). A year later, he first conceived the idea of creating "Kiryat Sefer" - being "a farming school in Eretz Israel" and that differently from the agricultural school Mikveh Israel, which taught in French and many of its graduates had not accomplished the tasks of agriculture in the country. The purpose of the school "is to educate the youth of Israel on the cultivation of land so they could live in dignity from the toil of their hands". He henceforth devoted all his time to realize that idea of his .To convince people of the idea of establishing "Kiryat Sefer", Israel Belkind went to Russia and in the year 1901; he submitted a proposal to the Zionist Congress and received his consent, as well as Hertzel's agreement to establish an agricultural school under his management. Following the riots that occurred in Russia in 1903, Belkind gathered in Kishinev orphans, children of the killed persons and brought them to Eretz Israel to educate them to agriculture in his "Kiryat Sefer". The orphans stayed in Rishon Lezion for three month, then moved to Shfeya and later – to Ben Shemen. When the school was closed in 1906, he began working as a clerk in the AFEC bank, wrote books about Eretz Israel, issued a magazine called "Hameir" and worked as a school headmaster. On the eve of World War I, he came up with the idea to bring a group of his students to the Golan Heights to form a tribe of shepherds - settlers. The idea did not materialize, however, affected the "Hashomer" people who came to live among the Bedouins. During the war he came to America, wrote in newspapers and authored the book "Hatzeadim Harishonim" - the new settlements history in Eretz Israel. In the year 1920, he returned to Eretz Israel and began to dedicate himself again to the idea of the school "Kiryat Sefer" in which he saw an essential need for the resurrection of the people and country. Again he brought to Eretz Israel in 1923, orphans of the pogroms from the Ukraine, established for them an educational institution in Hadera and later in Tzfat. Also this institution had been closed pretty soon because Israel Belkind refused to allow the financing institutions to intervene in the affairs of the school and those denied him the necessary assistance. Belkind's students attested that he was a beloved and successful teacher who used unconventional educational methods. His students considered him as a father and the many letters to him will attest to that effect (found in the museum archives in Rishon Lezion, A 1-3 File 24).In 1928, he founded a publishing house called "Hameir" to issue his writings "The Hashmonaim, or the War of Liberty," "The Jewish War against the Romans", "Samaritans and Arabs in Eretz Israel", "Where are the Ten Lost Tribes", "Eretz Israel at this time ", a large map Eretz Israel and more. In 1929, Israel Belkind became sick and traveled to Germany for medical treatment where he died. Months later, in 1930, he was buried in the old cemetery in Rishon Lezion.

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