Chovevei Zion (Lovers of Zion)
Eastern Europe, 1881
In response to persecution in Czarist Russia in the late 1800s, Jewish communities formed independent clubs known as the Chovevei Zion (Lovers of Zion). These clubs, begun and led by Leon Pinsker, formed the beginnings of the Zionist Movement in Eastern Europe, pursuing social and cultural activities to instill national pride and hope amongst the Jews, and dedicated to the idea of a return of the Jewish People to their ancient homeland in Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel). They weren’t engaged in political activity but in small-scale efforts like teaching Hebrew, funding small agricultural communities in Palestine, and fostering other local cultural activities around Jewish self-determination.