How Many Times Did the Jews Try to Return or Revolt After Being Kicked Out by Romans?

  • 5 minute read
  • • by Sharon Koifman
  • • November 29, 2022

We don’t know how many attempts actually have been done, because the more distant the time, scarcer the sources. But we have at least 27 well documented movements and seven full fledged revolts showing that the Jews never gave up on Israel as their homeland.

First there were armed revolts:

66 CE – First Jewish-Roman War

(it was a fight for independence since it was occupied by Romans)

115-117 – Kitos War

132-135 – Second Jewish-Roman War (Bar Kochba Revolt)

351-352 – Jewish Revolt against Constantius Gallus. Thousands of Jews died on Byzantine hands.

556 Samaritan revolt – Both the Jews and Samaritans united together to revolt against the Byzantines.

572 Samaritan revolt – After Byzantine Emperor Justin II revogated Samaritan rights again, Jews and Samaritans joined forces one again for one more assault.

602-629 – Jewish Revolt Against Heraclius. Tens of thousands Jews died.

(includes a short-lived Sasanian Jewish autonomy in Jerusalem in 614–617).

After that the Jews decide to start immigration waves instead:

10th–11th Centuries – Many pilgrimages and start of the Karaite Jews’ immigration

1141 – Yehuda Halevi issued a call to Jews to emigrate to the land of Israel. He created the term Aliyah and took on the long journey himself. He died in a horse accident before entering Jerusalem.

13th-15th Centuries – More Jewish immigration due to the expulsion of Jews from England (1290), France (1391), Austria (1421), and Spain (the Alhambra decree of 1492).

1210 – Aliyah of the three hundred rabbis

1260 – Yechiel of Paris had emigrated to Acre, along with his son and a large group of followers.

1488 – Obadiah ben Abraham arrived in Jerusalem, a big rabbi who improved the living conditions for the Jews in the land; marking a period of Jewish immigration.

1648-1657 – Jews immigrated to Israel due to persecution during the Khmelnytsky Uprising

1700 – A group of over 1,500 Ashkenazi Jews (some sources say less) made aliyah and settled in Jerusalem with Rabbi Yehudah Hachassid.

18th-19th Century – More Jews immigrated from Eastern Europe, but were forbidden to live in Jerusalem.

1720 – Jews are expelled from Jerusalem for being poor and unable to pay the bills. An Arab riot invades a synagogue and destroys it.

1726 – The Istanbul Committee of Officials was established to coordinate the Diaspora financial support of the Jews in Palestine. They collected money for the Yishuv, managed the Palestine community’s budget, established regulations for governing the communities and settled disputes between the Jews and the gentiles.

1740 – Ottoman Authorities invite Rabbi Chaim Abulafia to settle in Palestine and he rebuilds Tiberias for Jews.

1746 – Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Peremyshlyny and other Hassidic Jews made Aliyah to Tiberias. This was the first organized Hassidic Aliyah, and began a period marked by a number of Hassidic Aliyot.

1777 – Two other Hasidic masters, Rabbi Menahem Mendel of Vitebsk (1730-1788) and Avraham Kalisk lead a group of 300 immigrants. They settled in Tiberias.

1799 – Rabbi Moshe Sofer (known as Hatam Sofer, 1762-1839) told the Jews of the Diaspora, “Go and travel now”. It started many waves of immigration as we shall see.

1800 – The population of Eretz Yisrael is around 300,000, of which 5,000 were Jews. Most of the Jews were concentrated in Jerusalem, Safed, Tiberias and Hebron.

(Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 9, pp. 293)

1808 – Hundreds of the Vilna Gaon’s disciples, known as Perushim, settled in Tiberias and Safed. It was a group intending to separate from the common society and dedicate itself to Torah studies in the Land of Israel. Since Torah studies does not make money by itself, donations from Diaspora were sent to keep the disciples fed. Those charity organizations would be later known as “Kollel“.

1809 – Another group of 150 followers of the Vilna Gaon arrived from Lithuania, ending a century-old ban against Ashkenazi Jews living in Jerusalem.

1811 – 80 Hungarian families set out for Israel intending to work in agriculture, with the encouragement from Rabbi Moshe Sofer. On their journey, the Jews were attacked and most of the families returned to Hungary.

1830 – The Kollel Chibas Jerusalem was created in Galicia, Austrian Empire, to help the Jewish students from Galicia in the land of Israel.

1836 –    Moshe Sacks, a follower of Moshe Sofer, proposes to the Emperor Ferdinand of Austria to support the establishment of a large Jewish agricultural settlement in the Land of Israel. Baron Solomon Mayer Rothschild of Vienna is asked to give his support.

1839 –  Moses Montefiore, a secular philantrope Jew, comes to an agreement with Muhammad Ali, ruler of Egypt and Palestine, for the acquisition of land and the establishment of agricultural settlements in the land of Israel. A blood libel in Damascus starts and it ruins the agreement.

1844 – The Christadelphians, a Christian group, supports the idea of Jews’ returning to their original homeland.

1852 – The Association for Promoting Jewish Settlement in Palestine was founded by Colonel George Gawler, a British Christian Lt. Colonel. Its activities include training Jews in the Land of Israel for agriculture and publishing books advocating for a Jewish settlement.

1855 – Moses Montefiore bought many places in the land: Mishkenot Sha’ananim, a settlement just near the old city walls in Jerusalem, a land near Safed and Tiberias, and a large orchard outside of Jaffa.

1858 – The Hungarian Kollel is established, an organization supporting the Hungarian Jews of Jerusalem.

1860 – The Jewish Company for the Settlement of the Holy Land is founded, a group aiming to renew the already established settlements. This decision was made jointly by a number of important Rabbis of that time.

1861 – The philanthropists Sir Moses Montefiore of England together with Judah Touro and Gershom Kursheedt of America built the first neighborhood outside of the old city walls of Jerusalem, Mishkenot Sha’ananim. It consisted of a building housing 16 apartments and a windmill.

1865 – The Palestine Exploration Fund is established in London, England, founded by a group of energetic Gentile British supporters of Jewish settlement in the land of Israel.

And all of that predates Zionism!

It’s not like we suddenly decided to return to the land of Israel. We were always trying to get there and this time we nailed it. And we will never leave again.


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