1808 - 1810 THE DISCIPLES OF THE VILNA GAON (Eretz Israel)
Began to settle in Eretz Israel with the arrival of the first group led his pupil, R. Menachem Mendel of Shklov (d. 1827). In all there were three groups of the Gaonís students which immigrated to Eretz Israel. Most would initially settle in Safed. This would prevent conflict with the Jerusalem Sephardic community, suspicious that they would be competition for funds raised for Jerusalem inhabitants. It would also avoid confrontation with Arabs who held promissory notes on the Synagogue of Judah HeHasid, and saw all Ashkenazi immigrants an heir to those notes. In addition the Galilee allowed them to purchase land(1811) giving them an opportunity to keep the laws (mitzvot) of the land of Israel. They would form the basis of the Ashkenazi communities of Jerusalem and Safed setting up what was known as the Kollel Perushim. Many of the descendents of the disciples are leading figures in modern Israeli society. The Gaon himself had also set forth with his pupils, but for an unknown reason returned to Vilna where he died soon after.