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Yishuv Definition

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Yishuv - (Hebrew) The Jewish community in Palestine prior to the declaration of the state of Israel, including the pre-Zionist era (Old Yishuv) as well as the Zionists of the late Ottoman Turkish rule and British mandate eras (New Yishuv).

The old Yishuv was the passive aggregate of all Jews who had lived in Palestine, some continuously since Roman times, others for hundreds years. They included Sephardic Jews who had come to the country after the Spanish Inquisition, Sephardic Jews and Ashkenazi Jews, who came at various times to fulfill the commandment of settling in the Holy Land, as well as descendants of the original Jewish inhabitants. Until the second half of the 19th century, small Jewish communities existed in many towns including Safed, Tiberias, Hebron, Pekiin (where Jews had lived continuously) and of course, the old city of Jerusalem. At least a few Jews had apparently lived in Nablus until about 1909. The Jewish population of the old city of Jerusalem numbered about 7,000 in 1844 (See Population of Ottoman Palestine), making it the largest concentration of Jews in Palestine, who numbered perhaps 15,000 at the time. Many of these Jews had come only to study the holy books, live on charity and die in Jerusalem. Others came because their rabbis had commanded them to fulfill the commandment of settlement or by the invitation of various Turkish Sultans.Many old Yishuv Jewish communities either disappeared in the twentieth century owing to Arab hostility, as in Nablus, or were forcibly destroyed as was the case in Hebron and in the old city of Jerusalem (See Hebron Massacre, The Ethnic Cleansing of Jerusalem )

In the second half of the 19th century, the Jerusalem Jewish population began settling outside the walls of the old city in order to make possible gainful employment, and some, under Joel Solomon, founded the settlement of Petah Tiqva in 1878. This "internal Zionist movement" was met by the much larger immigration of Jews of the Zionist First Aliya. The demarcation between "old yishuv" and "new yishuv" is thus not as sharp as might be believed. Zionist settlers and "old yishuv" Jews intermarried and collaborated in the regeneration of the Hebrew language, agricultural settlements, Hebrew education and other Zionist projects.

The Zionist immigration transformed the Yishuv from a passive aggregate into an organized political body. The Yishuv, primarily the Zionist Yishuv, elected a national assembly ("The Asefat Hanivharim") which elected an executive - the Vaad Leumi (or Vaad of the Yishuv). It was created to administer the affairs of the Yishuv in 1920, and began functioning, in effect, as a state within a state, with political, social, health, labor and education departments as well as functions in defense and illegal immigration. It fought for legal recognition by the British mandate authorities, but never quite achieved it.

"Old Yishuv" was a pejorative term used by Zionists for the ultra-orthodox Jews, primarily those of Jerusalem, who lived on Halukah charity from abroad. Friction developed because of the different way of life of the Zionists, who were mostly secular, the Zionist disdain for the economic parasitism of the old yishuv, and the attempts of old Yishuv rabbis to impose religious laws on the Zionists. In particular, about 1890 a crisis developed because the rabbis of the old Yishuv tried to force the BILU settlers to observe a strict old testament sabbatical year, leaving their fields fallow. This would have bankrupted them.

Synonyms and alternate spellings:

Further Information:

Hebrew/Arabic pronunciation and transliteration conventions:

'H - ('het) a guttural sound made deep in the throat. To Western ears it may sound like the "ch" in loch. In Arabic there are several letters that have similar sounds. Examples: 'hanukah, 'hamas, 'haredi. Formerly, this sound was often represented by ch, especially in German transliterations of Hebrew. Thus, 'hanukah is often rendered as Chanuka for example.

ch - (chaf) a sound like "ch" in loch or the Russian Kh as in Khruschev or German Ach, made by putting the tongue against the roof of the mouth. In Hebrew, a chaf can never occur at the beginning of a word. At the beginning of a word, it has a dot in it and is pronounced "Kaf."

u - usually between oo as in spoon and u as in put.

a- sounded like a in arm

ah- used to represent an a sound made by the letter hey at the end of a word. It is the same sound as a. Haganah and Hagana are alternative acceptable transliterations.

'a-notation used for Hebrew and Arabic ayin, a guttural ah sound.

o - close to the French o as in homme.

th - (taf without a dot) - Th was formerly used to transliterate the Hebrew taf sound for taf without a dot. However in modern Hebrew there is no detectable difference in standard pronunciation of taf with or without a dot, and therefore Histadruth and Histadrut, Rehovoth and Rehovot are all acceptable.

q- (quf) - In transliteration of Hebrew and Arabic, it is best to consistently use the letter q for the quf, to avoid confusion with similar sounding words that might be spelled with a kaf, which should be transliterated as K. Thus, Hatiqva is preferable to Hatikva for example.

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