Founder of Hovevei Zion (Lovers of Zion)
Leon Pinsker (1821-1891) was a Ukrainian writer who penned the deeply influential Zionist book Auto-Emancipation in 1882, making him the first major Zionist leader in Eastern Europe. Pinsker’s main argument was that the Jews, lacking a nation of their own, had no “center of gravity” to provide national dignity. They would never be accepted into European society, so they had to establish their own independent national homeland. The effect of his book was to wake up the Jews of Eastern Europe to their profound vulnerability. He became one of the founders and main leader of the Chovevi Zion (Lovers of Zion) social movement.