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Edmond James de Rothschild

1845 - 1934.

Baron Edmond de Rothschild / Source : Ramat-hanadiv.org.il

Baron Edmond James de Rothschild was a French banker, philanthropist, and art collector born in France in 1845. His father - James (Jacob) Rothschild - was the founder of the Paris branch of the Rothschild family.


During the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, Edmond James served in the French National Guard, and in 1877 he married his cousin Adélaïde de Rothschild.


Following the riots against the Jews of Russia, the Baron was convinced that the Jews who had chosen to settle in the Land of Israel should be supported.


In 1882, he began to buy land in the land of Israel and became one of the most active supporters of Zionism.


He played a major role in the success of the first Zionist Aliyah (1881 - 1903).


Unlike the other Rothschilds, he attached significant importance to Zionism. He made five trips to the Land of Israel, in May 1887, Spring 1893, February 1899, February 1914, and May 1925, to follow the development of his "colonies".


In 1924, he founded the Palestine Jewish Colonization Association (PICA), dedicated to buying land in the Land of Israel and industrializing the region.


He had a major role in the development of Zikhron Yaakov, named in the “memory” of his father Jacob (James). He transferred lands and settlements to the Jewish Colonization Association (ICA), established in 1891, and spent millions of dollars on these projects in the Land of Israel.


In total, he founded in 32 years about twenty colonies and helped to establish the first infrastructures such as wineries (like in Zikhron Yaakov and Rishon Lezion) and factories.


He died in 1934, and in April 1954, his remains and those of his wife were exhumed from the Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris and transported to Israel on a military frigate. In Haifa, the ship was greeted by sirens and cannon fire. A state funeral was held during which former Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion read the eulogy. Edmond de Rothschild and his wife are buried at the Ramat HaNadiv Memorial (close to Zikhron Ya'akov).


Rothschild Avenue was one of the first streets of Tel Aviv, in 1909/1910, along with Ahad Haa'am, Yehuda Halevi, Lilienblum, and Herzl.

David Ben Gurion said, "I doubt that, in the entire history of the Jewish people in the Diaspora, a period of 2,000 years, one could ever find a man comparable in stature to the incredible character that was the Baron Edmond de Rothschild – the builder of the Jewish Yishuv in our renewed homeland"*.

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