The House of Rothschild: Genealogy Information Part II

 
 
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Rothschild, Baron Edmond De

Greatest developer of modern Palestine; b. Boulogne-sur-Seine, Aug. 19, 1845. Son of James and Betty Rothschild. In 1877 he married Adelaide, daughter of Simon Wolf, or as he was known, Wilhelm Karl, Freiherr von Rothschild, of Frankfort. Baron Edmond is one of the most brilliant and colorful personalities in Jewish life. In the non-Jewish world he is known as banker, philanthropist, patron of science, art, and literature. An art collector himself, his picture gallery is considered the most beautiful in Paris. These, however, do not constitute the Baron's greatness. His fame rests on the fact that he is the creator of Jewish colonization in Palestine, which served as the basis for the political, economic, and cultural up building of the Holy Land.

His first appearance on the Jewish scene was in connection with the outbreak of pogroms in Russia in 1881, an event that shook the entire civilized world. The Baron immediately established a relief committee to help the Jews who had fled to Brody, Galicia. At that time the former president of the Republic of Santo Domingo, General Luperon, hearing of the tragedy that befell the Russian Jews, presented to Baron Edmond a project for settling Jews in his land where both the government and people would welcome them with open arms. The Baron was very enthusiastic. However, after a lengthy correspondence with leading American Jews concerning the project, nothing came of it.

Meantime there began in Russia a movement to emigrate to Palestine with the view of rebuilding, on a firm basis, the Jewish soul as well as the Jewish body. A group of young men, taking the name Bilu departed for Palestine with slender capital, and after many
vicissitudes succeeded in founding the colony, Rishon le-Zion. Because of their inexperience, however, and lack of capital the colony was on the verge of collapse. They decided to send one of their group, the most educated of them, Dr. Joseph Feinberg, to Europe, to seek the support of the Jewish men of means. Charles Netter, who arrived in Palestine as the agent of the Alliance Israelite Universelle, in 1882, to look into the affairs of the agricultural school Mikveh Israel, advised the colonists that their delegate proceed directly to Paris and see Baron Edmond.

Simultaneously, the renowned Talmudic scholar and lover of Zion, Rabbi Samuel Mohilewer, arrived in Paris to influence the Baron to establish new colonies in Palestine, Rabbi Mohilewer first paid a visit to the Grand Rabbi of Paris, Zadoc Kahn, who later became Grand Rabbi of France, without w hose intercession it was difficult to gain admittance to the Baron. The Grand Rabbi convinced the Baron of the importance and greatness of the enterprise. Rabbi Mohilewer, in his audience with the Baron, further expatiated on his plans, and his words were so effective that the Baron promised to extend his helpfulness. Dr. Joseph Feinberg, too, had arrived in Paris. Thus was the first step taken by the Baron with regard to the rebuilding of Palestine, and his efforts have been ceaseless ever since.

And as he at first did not wish to reveal his identity, he became known in the Jewish world as "Ha-Nadib Ha-Yadua," the well known Benefactor. In the course of time numerous new colonies were founded by his help. He planted eucalyptus trees to exterminate malaria. Wells were dug, schools established, synagogs and hospitals erected by his munificence. Several colonies, begun by the Russian Chovevei Zion, but discontinued by them, were taken over by the Baron. Thus sprang up, Rishon le-Zion, Rosh Pinah, Gederah, Petah Tikvah, Zichron Jacob, Yesod Hamaala, Nes Zionah, Mazkeret, Batya, and others. Especially noteworthy are the two wine cellars which he built in Rishon le-Zion and in Zichron Jacob.

As the colonies could not easily become self-supporting the Baron poured out millions for their upkeep. A dependent condition such as this, as well as other causes, naturally caused friction and conflict between the colonists and the local administrators. There was a desire among the colonists to emancipate themselves from the Baron's tutelage, to become independent. This, of course, was an impossibility, for without his help they would not be able to exist for the briefest time.

During this conflict there came up, in 1889, the controversy concerning the Sabbatical year, in which, according to the Bible, no agricultural labor might be done. The greatest Talmudic authorities in Palestine and the Diaspora were involved. Even when Rabbi Isaac Elchana, of Kovno, Russia, the greatest rabbinical authority of his time, decided that work was permitted during the Sabbatical year, some would not obey his dictum. At this time the Baron showed his unusual patience and devotion to Zion. He proceeded with his work.

In 1896 Dr. Theodor Herzl, the founder of political Zionism through the mediation of Rabbi Zadoc Kahn, was received by the Baron. They could not, however, agree. The Baron considered Herzl's plan of mass migration a romantic phantasy. His experience with a few thousand pioneers cost him millions, and much trouble to boot; how much more then with hundreds of thousands? Besides, he feared that such an idea might even hurt the Yishub through the opposition of the sultan. The two men went different ways, but aiming at the same goal.

In 1899 the Baron planned to create a special organization to manage Jewish colonization, in Palestine. On account of his poor health at that time, however, he negotiated with the ICA, which finally agreed to proceed with the work, and established a special department to deal exclusively with Palestine colonization. For this purpose the Baron gave 14 million francs. In 1924 he reverted to his original plan, founding an independent organization for the Palestine work. With the cooperation of the ICA, he created a new body the Palestine Jewish Colonization Association (Pica) the president of which is his son James Rothschild.

The Pica accomplished some noteworthy results. It acquired land, erected a flour-mill, a perfume factory, and many other undertakings which gave employment to Jews.

Baron Edmond visited Palestine several times, in 1887, 1893, 1899, 1914, and 1925. He was always received with intense enthusiasm by the colonists. On his last journey he had the opportunity of witnessing with his own eyes the realization of his dreams of Zion. He had laid the foundation of the first colony, and, in half a cent., he beheld the flowering of a country, a thriving net-work of settlements, towns, and cities, a new Jewish life vibrating with activity and creative achievements.

The Baron's philanthropic efforts reach into tens of millions of dollars. The colonization itself, it is estimated had cost him over $50,000,000. He also contributed $500,000 for the Ruthenberg plan for the electrification of Palestine, hundreds of thousands for education, 30,000,000 francs for a Biological Institute in Paris and 6,000,000 francs for the Institute of Science, Art and Literature, which he recently established in London.

D.D.

 

Website: The History Box.com
Article Name: The House of Rothschild: Genealogy Information Part II
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina

Source:

BIBLIOGRAPHY: From my collection of Books: The Encyclopedia of Jewish Knowledge In One Volume, Edited by Jacob De Haas; in collaboration with more than 150 scholars and specialists. Behrman's Jewish Book House New York, 1934.
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