Crawford House Publishing
Edmond de Rothschild (1845-1934) The Land of Israel as a Mitsva?

Edmond de Rothschild has always been a mystery and an enigma. First, the mystery: why did the youngest son of James de Rothschild (1791-1868) himself the son of the founder of the dynasty decide regardless to the hostility by the rest of the family, dedicate his energy, time and money to the Jewish settlements in Palestine, from 1882 until his death in 1934?

Why did he decide at the end of 1924, to create the PICA (Palestine Jewish Colonization Association) and to defend an alternative policy (industrialization, respect of Arabic neighbourhoods, religious education & marriage between Jews) to that of the Zionists? An enigma: because a certain kind of historiography denied Baron Edmond the primordial role he played in Palestine for at least a quarter of a century before the first Zionists, and after the First World War, in the industrialization of Palestine under the British Mandate.

We’ll suggest some of our research directions or trails for investigation: the ghetto culture; the French laicite (Edmond de Rothschild became in 1911 the President of the Consistoire de Paris); the ideas of the Wissenschaft der Judentum and the Société des Etudes Juives.

But the religious ‘trail’ is the best key for explaining the Baron’s motivations. Edmond de Rothschild was very much influenced by his religious teachers, Albert Cohn, and by the great Rabbi Zadoc Kahn, but also by Michel Erlanger and Charles Netter (1828-82), two of the founders of the Alliance Israelite Universelle (AIU, 1860), the latter being at the origin (1869) of the foundation of Mikveh-Israël, the school farm (the messianic farm) near Jaffa.

When adapting the Balfour Declaration so that the French government could agree to it, Baron Edmond translated the words ‘National Home’ by le pays des ancêstres ("the land of our ancestors").


Elizabeth Antébi






34 b/w photos; 1 map


Portrait; hardcover; c.500pp


232 x 153 mm



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