||Call for prayer on behalf of Baron Edmond James de Rothschild, who is gravely ill. The poster bears the seal of R. Abraham Isaac ha-Kohen Kook, Chief Rabbi of Erez Israel.
Baron Edmond James de Rothschild (1845–1934, Ha-Nadiv ha-Yadu'a), philanthropist, patron of Jewish settlement in Erez Israel. Rothschild was born in Paris. In contrast to his two older brothers, Edmond was not given to banking, and from his youth was devoted to humanist and cultural matters, especially art. His art collection, which occupied him throughout his life, brought him fame as an art expert, and he was elected to the Institut des Beaux Arts in Paris. He was close to both Jewish and non-Jewish intellectuals in France. In 1877 he married Adelaide the daughter of Wilhelm Carl Rothschild, who was known for his extreme religiosity and his unwillingness to become involved with matters concerning Erez Israel.
"I have always been concerned with the future of Judaism," Rothschild wrote in an autobiographical letter dated 1928. He only began public activity in the Jewish sphere, however, after the pogroms in Russia in the 1880s. He was on the French Committee to Aid the Emigration of Refugees and became involved in affairs concerning Erez Israel only after the founding of the first settlements and the first overtures from settlers and members of Hovevei Zion in Europe. When the first settlements in Erez Israel faced a financial crisis serious enough to endanger their existence, the leaders of Rishon le-Zion turned to Rothschild, together with Samuel Mohilewer through the mediation of Chief Rabbi Zadoc Kahn in Paris. The result of these appeals was Rothschild's support for the settlements Rishon le-Zion and Zikhron Ya'akov and afterward the founding of the settlement Ekron. During 1883–84, the first settlements began to be patronized by Rothschild. Due to his desire to remain anonymous in this venture, he was known by a cover name "Ha-Nadiv ha-Yadu'a" ("the Well-Known Benefactor"), and in Erez Israel and the Hovevei Zion groups this name became better known than his real one. His aid to the first settlements saved them from collapse. Rothschild himself later defined his activities as "not merely philanthropy, but something entirely different." For decades, Rothschild advocated "quiet" settlement work as the basis for a promising future).
Rothschild's patronage was of two types: the first was full (Rishon le-Zion, Zikhron Ya'akov, Rosh Pinnah, and Ekron) and the second was partial (Petah Tikvah and others). He became the major address for all problems in the yishuv, large and small alike, to such a degree that he became known as the "Father of the Yishuv." All the agricultural experiments carried out in the settlements by French experts were covered by his funds. His support was implemented by a bureaucracy, mostly staffed by Frenchmen whose mentality was alien to that of the settlers. This caused sharp antagonism that even reached the level of revolt in several settlements. This type of bureaucratic patronage was the greatest problem of the Jewish settlements during a 20-year period and aroused sharp criticism. However, in retrospect it is recognized that Rothschild's bureaucracy also played a positive role. It introduced new plant species into Jewish agriculture and instructed the first settlers in the agriculture of the country. Rothschild's first visits to Erez Israel (1887, 1893, 1899) were devoted to tours of the settlements, investigating the rate of development, and demanding self-labor in the settlements, modest living standards, the speaking of Hebrew, and a concern for religious tradition. In addition, lands were purchased on his orders for new agricultural settlement (in the Golan and Hauran, among other places).
Until his last days he maintained an avid interest in all activities, large and small, in the yishuv. Rothschild died in Paris, a year before his wife. He left nearly 500,000 dunams (125,000 acres) and almost 30 settlements in his wake. In 1954 his remains and those of his wife were reinterred in Ramat ha-Nadiv, near Zikhron Ya'akov.