Mevaser Tov (Harbinger of Good Tidings) by Rabbi Yehuda Alkalai, London, 1852.

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There is a street in Jerusalem called Rechov Alkalai, which people often mistake for the writer of the dictionary.  Actually, it is named after Rabbi Yehudah Alkalai, who came up with the idea that the Jewish people should organize to settle in the Land of Israel, at a much earlier date than the modern Zionist movement.

He eventually came to the conclusion that Western Jewish support was needed to do this, and so he travelled to promote his ideas.  This little booklet was published in London in 1852, and is quite rare.  My copy is fragile, and I have carefully scanned both the Hebrew and the English pages, so that it can now be read without handling it physically.

Yehuda Alkalay was born in 1798 in Sarajevo, a scion of an old Sephardic family that originated in Spain.  At the age of 27 he was appointed Rabbi in the town of Zeman, on the Austrian border.

He was an orthodox leader with strong kabbalistic philosophies.  In earlier works he explains that the words “Shema Yisroel” are a commandment to gather the Jewish people together.  In this booklet Rabbi Alkalai explains, with great allusion to biblical and other references, that the Jewish people have to form a representative Association of all communities for the purposes of regaining their country.  He says (page 5 below) that this association should meet in London which is the Capital of the World.  It should work out a return to the Holy Land by diplomacy – by calling on the other nations to help.

He has a great focus on the unity of the Jewish people to bring this about.

There is one more amazing detail.  The Herzl family, who were Ashkenazic Jews, moved to Serbia in the 18th century and intermarried with the local Sephardic Jews.  Theodor Herzl’s grandfather was an active member of the Jewish community of Zeman when Rabbi Alkalai was there.

Here then is Mevaser Tov – the Harbinger of Good Tidings.  I have scanned the English pages first, from one end and then the Hebrew from the other end, starting with ‘A voice resounds’ – ‘Kol Mevaser’…

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