Lorje, Chaim

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LORJE, CHAIM

LORJE, CHAIM (1821–1878), founder of the first society for the settlement of Ereẓ Israel (Kolonisations-Verein fuer Palaestina). Born in Frankfurt on the Oder, Lorje was an educator there and headed a children's boarding school. In 1864 he moved to Berlin where he lived until his death. He considered himself a descendant of the Safed kabbalist Isaac *Luria; he had a tendency toward mysticism throughout his life and this was probably the source of his initiative to establish the first society for the agricultural settlement of Ereẓ Israel in Frankfurt on the Oder (1860). Opposition from the old yishuv immediately arose against the scheme for they feared that Lorje's society would divert part of the ḥalukkah funds from abroad. On the other hand, the early harbingers of the Zionist idea, namely Z. *Kalischer, Y. *Alkalai, M. *Hess, David *Gordon, and others, joined Lorje. The society also published Kalischer's programmatic book Derishat Ẓiyyon (1862). At the close of the book is an appendix by Lorje on the society and its rules.

The center of the society was then moved to Berlin. At first it was successful and collected substantial funds; however, Lorje's egocentrism and aggressive tone toward his adversaries brought about the gradual weakening of the society until it ceased to exist in 1864. When other societies were established afterward, Lorje's group was honored as the direct and indirect inspiration for these societies and the Ḥibbat Zion movement in the West.

bibliography:

Kressel, in: Zion, 7 (1942), 197–205.

[Getzel Kressel]