Founded in 1879 the Rav Yehoshua of Belz and Rav Shimon Sofer, the Machzikei Hadas political party was the first Orthodox political party in Jewish history. The unique status of Galician Jewry of the 19th century, as a heavily traditional, demographically large community who had already received emancipation from the Habsburg monarchy in 1867, led the leaders of Orthodox Jewry there to utilize the benefits of emancipation to further the cause of traditional Jewry. Rav Shimon Sofer even got elected to the Austrian parliament.
The mouthpiece of the organization was a newspaper of the same name, and emerged as another modern tool to preserve tradition. Though its influence waned after an initial decade of success, this pioneering endeavor left a lasting impact on the developing environment of Orthodox politics.
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