In the mid-19th century, a number of Protestant families in southwest Germany decided to establish a religious group that was distinct from Lutheran Protestantism. They viewed themselves as “bricks” that made up the ideational temple of communal life based on the principles of Christianity. For the Templers, Jesus was not defined as the son of God, but as a religious teacher and an example and manifestation of the honest life.
In the late 1850s, this group, under the leadership of Christoph Hoffman, began exploring the possibility of living according to their spiritual-religious ideal not merely inside Germany, but in close proximity to the location of the Jewish Temple: in Jerusalem. They chose this path since as Christians they viewed themselves as “the new people of Israel.” In 1868 the group’s first settlers reached the shores of Eretz Israel. They purchased lands in the Haifa area and established their first place of residence, which exists physically to this day (the “German Colony” of Haifa). Over the years, additional settlers arrived and established a number of communities in Jaffa (1869), nearby Sarona (1871), Jerusalem (1873), and later, in Wilhelma (1902, today: Bnei Atarot), as well as at Bethlehem of Galilee (1906). Together with these localities, religious and educational institutions sprung up, as well as businesses of various types. In 1878, some 850 people were living in Templer communities, by 1884 the Templer residents in Eretz Israel numbered 1300, and on the eve of WWI, this number climbed to approximately 2,000 people, which was the peak of their history in Palestine.