This article is about the organisation of the Religious Zionist Movement. For other uses, see Mizrachi (disambiguation).
The Mizrachi (Hebrew: הַמִזְרָחִי, HaMizrahi, an acronym for Merkaz Ruhani lit. Religious centre) is the name of the religious Zionist organization founded in 1902 in Vilnius at a world conference of religious Zionists called by Rabbi Yitzchak Yaacov Reines. Bnei Akiva, which was founded in 1929, is the youth movement associated with Mizrachi. Both Mizrachi and the Bnei Akiva youth movement are still international movements.
Mizrachi believes that the Torah should be at the centre of Zionism and also sees Jewish nationalism as a means of achieving religious objectives. The Mizrachi Party was the first official religious Zionist party and founded the Ministry of Religious Affairs in Israel and pushed for laws enforcing kashrut and the observance of the sabbath in the workplace. It also played a role prior to the creation of the state of Israel, building a network of religious schools that exist to this day, and took part in the 1951 elections.
9. THE WORLD JEWISH CONGRESS
Although the WZO permitted the ZVfD to seek collaboration with Nazism, and its leaders were eager to sell Hitler's wares abroad and even spy for him, they did not want the menace to spread. Even the Zionist movement in Palestine realised that fund-raising from a universally ruined Jewry would hardly be the same as collecting for the victims in Germany alone. Not willing to fight Hitler themselves, for fear that he would abrogate the Ha'avara agreement and outlaw the ZVfD if they gave him any trouble, Sokolow and Weizmann dreamt of a great power alliance that would hold Hitler back, but this was always an empty fantasy. Those in the WZO led by Goldmann and Wise, who wanted to struggle, invariably found the two presidents either indifferent or opposed, but Hitler's growing strength compelled the more militant faction to establish a World Jewish Congress (WJC) as a Jewish defence organisation.
Both Goldmann and Wise were themselves deeply committed to Zionism; Goldmann had even opposed inviting any assimilationists -- that is to say, the majority of Jewry -- to their preliminary conference in 1932.  Furthermore, they did not think to challenge Weizmann's right to retake the WZO presidency in 1935. Nevertheless, the WZO was determinedly opposed to the new initiative, for fear that it would deflect energy away from Palestine back toward world Jewry. In February 1934, a year after Hitler came to power, Sokolow, who was then still the WZO President, was reported speaking against the World Jewish Congress:Doubt as to the wisdom of convening the World Jewish Congress tentatively scheduled for this summer was expressed by Nahum Sokolow, President of the World Zionist Organization… the Zionist veteran regards the fact that, at the Geneva Jewish Conference last summer where the World Jewish Congress was discussed, some question was raised as to whether or not Palestine should be included in the program of the World Jewish Congress, to be an indication of the disagreements and party battles which might take place in calling the parley… Mr Sokolow presents an alternative plan, according to which all shades of Jewry would be called upon to construct a Jewish body for Jewish self-defense, the execution of well considered, carefully formulated plans of such a body, which would include all Jewish groups with the exception of the avowed assimilationists, would bring much good, Mr. Sokolow believes. 
Sokolow was also stalling because he was afraid of the attacks on the Ha'avara agreement that were sure to be made at a broad World Jewish Congress. Stephen Wise returned fire:We were given warnings that support would be alienated for the World Jewish Congress if the [Geneva] Conference adopts a resolution against the Palestine-German transfer agreement. I do not fear this threat. The Jewish people are prepared to accept the guidance of Eretz Israel, but not commands or threats, when they conflict with the interests of all Jews. 
The conflict was painful to Wise; he had once thought along similar lines to Sokolow, but although he still thought of Palestine as the most positive side of Jewish life, he simply could not put Zionism so far ahead of the danger that threatened European Jewry.I know very well some Zionist will say: only Eretz Israel interests me. Palestine has the primary place. I was the one who first used the word 'primary' some years ago; I had to withdraw the word 'primary' when I had the courage to say that though Palestine has the primary place in Jewish hopes, I cannot, as a Jew, be indifferent to the Galuth… if I had to choose between Eretz Israel and its upbuilding and the defense of the Galuth, I would say that then the Galuth must perish. But after all, the more you save the Galuth, the more you will ultimately do for Eretz Israel. 
The WJC movement continued to gain strength in spite of Sokolow's opposition; the Nazi pressure was too great, the ranks wanted their movement to do something, and when Wise reluctantly endorsed the Ha'avara at the 1935 World Zionist Congress, the idea of the WJC finally received formal sanction from the WZO. However, there was never much enthusiasm for the WJC within the WZO. Chicago's Jewish Chronicle, itself an opponent of the WJC movement, accurately described the lack of serious interest in the idea of a defence organisation, even as late as May 1936, almost three and a half years into the Third Reich:individual leaders of the Mizrachi and the Jewish State Party have no faith or interest in the Congress… Hadassah is not roused on the matter, and the poll of the members of the Executive Committee of the Zionist Organization of America revealed… the majority is overwhelmingly opposed to the Congress. 
Despite the hostility of the right wing, the WJC had to come. This was now the period of the Popular Front; the Social Democrats and the Stalinists had finally learned the necessity for unity against Fascism in the wake of disaster, and the Zionists had to come up with a Jewish, equivalent or lose their small following among the Jewish workers, particularly in Poland, who were influenced by Popular Front notions. Labour Zionist support for Wise and Goldmann was enough to overcome the right wing, but the paradox was that the WJC was doomed to fail precisely when it suddenly threatened to turn into a genuine Popular Front.
-- Zionism in the Age of the Dictators: A Reappraisal, by Lenni Brenner
Mizrachi in Poland
During the interwar period, the Mizrachi party was represented in the kehilla councils as well as in the municipal councils and in the Polish Sejm and Senate, e.g. by the Vilnius Chief Rabbi Yitzkak Rubinstein (1888-1945), Mizrachi senator (1922-1930, 1938-1939) and deputy (1930-1935), and by Rabbi Simon Federbusch, Sejm member from 1922 till 1927.
Mizrachi in Israel
Major figures in the Religious Zionist Movement include Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook who became the Ashkenazi Jews Chief Rabbi of the British Mandate of Palestine in 1924 and tried to reconcile Zionism with Orthodox Judaism.
Mizrachi had a separate trade union wing, founded in 1921, Hapoel HaMizrachi, which represented religious Jews in the Histadrut and tried to attract religious Labor Zionists. The trade union also operated as a political party by the same name in the early days of Israel's existence, becoming the fourth largest party in the 1951 elections.
In 1956, the Mizrachi party and Hapoel HaMizrachi merged to form the National Religious Party to advance the rights of religious Jews in Israel, having fought the 1955 election together as the National Religious Front. The party was an ever-present government coalition member until 1992. In 2008, the party merged into The Jewish Home, essentially a successor party.
Mizrachi in the United States
In the United States the ideals of and work of the Mizrachi movement have been carried out through the official Religious Zionists of America (RZA) movement that has been an important source of the ideology and guidance for Modern Orthodox Judaism and its rabbis and followers. It is affiliated with the Bnei Akiva youth movement which has a great influence on the Modern Orthodox Jewish day schools and synagogues. The American movement has served as a fund-rasing and lobbying arm for its Israeli counterparts.
Many of the high echelon Jewish leaders and rabbis of Yeshiva University actively identify with and support Mizrachi in all its forms.