Literally, “ascent”; aliyah means a return to Eretz Israel (or Jewish emigration). The act of returning was believed to be a spiritual elevation as well as a physical ascent. Aliyah refers to the return of both an individual and an organized group. The first great return ended the exile in Babylon. Mass immigration was renewed in 1882, with the aliyah of the Biluim (Bilu is an acronym of Beit Ya'akov lechu ve nelcha: “O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us go” (Isaiah 2:5). The practice of numbering the “waves” of immigration was introduced by the immigrants of the Second Aliyah in order to distinguish themselves from their predecessors and successors. The numbering usually ends at five, with the outbreak of the Second World War. Subsequent waves were described either in reference to their sociological and geographical composition (the Children's Aliyah, the Aliyah from the Arab Countries, and so on) or in reference to their status (clandestine immigration, also known as Aliyah Bet, and so on).The following dates are approximate and are intended to serve only as a guide.
First Aliyah, 1882–1902; Second Aliyah, 1904–14; Third Aliyah, 1919–23; Fourth Aliyah, 1924–28; and Fifth Aliyah, 1932–39.
Literally, the “assembly of the elected”; the so-called parliament of the Yishuv during the British mandate. Representatives were elected by universal suffrage according to a system of proportional representation. A ballot was supposed to take place once every four years, but because of dissensions in the Yishuv, there were only four between 1920 and 1944 (in 1920, 1925, 1931, and 1944). The first assembly described itself as “the supreme institution for the regulation of the national public life of the Jewish people in Eretz Israel and its sole representative for internal and external affairs.” The Asefat Hanivharim met at very irregular intervals for sessions lasting one to four days. The first assembly consisted of only two sessions, and the third of eighteen. The assembly elected in 1944 had its last working session in 1948, a short time before the state parliament (called the Knesset) held its first