Under his guidance and influence, the First Congress of the Religious Zionists was called in Vilna in 1902. It was here that the name Mizrachi, a conglomeration of the words Mercaz Ruchani (‘SpiritualCenter’) was chosen. Indeed, the Mizrachi party envisioned itself as the spiritual center of the Zionist organization and desired to make Eretz Israel the spiritual center of Judaism.
Rabbi Alkalai raised the issue of Jewish political independence and the Land of Israelfor the first time in 1834 in a small booklet entitled Shema Yisrael, (‘Hear O Israel’). In his essay, he proposed a beginning of Jewish settlement in the Land of Israelas a precursor to the Messianic Redemption. Such an idea was not only original but was considered heretical among many Jews who believed that the Messianic Redemption would come only through a miraculous event caused by God.