Eliezer Ben-Yehuda

Eliezer Ben‑Yehuda (Hebrew: אֱלִיעֶזֶר בֵּן־יְהוּדָה‬‬; pronounced [eli'ʕezeɾ ben jehu'da]; born Eliezer Yitzhak Perlman; 7 January 1858 – 16 December 1922)[1] was a Hebrew lexicographer and newspaper editor. He was the driving spirit behind the revival of the Hebrew language in the modern era.

Eliezer Ben-Yehuda
BYwork-cropped
Ben-Yehuda at work
Native name
אליעזר בן־יהודה
Born
Eliezer Yitzhak Perlman

7 January 1858
Died16 December 1922 (aged 64)
ResidenceRussia; Palestine
OccupationLexicographer
Known forrevival of the Hebrew language
Spouse(s)
Devora Ben-Yehuda (née Jonas)
(m. 1881; her death 1891)
Hemda Ben-Yehuda (née Jonas)
(m. 1891; his death 1922)
Children

Biography

Eliezer und Hemda Ben Jehuda im Jahre 1912
Ben-Yehuda and wife Hemda, 1912

Eliezer Yitzhak Perlman (later Eliezer Ben-Yehuda) was born in Luzhki (Belarusian: Лужкі (Lužki), Vilna Governorate of the Russian Empire (now Vitebsk Oblast, Belarus). He attended cheder where he studied Hebrew and Bible from the age of three, as was customary among the Jews of Eastern Europe. By the age of twelve, he had read large portions of the Torah, Mishna, and Talmud. His mother and uncle hoped he would become a rabbi, and sent him to a yeshiva. There he was exposed to the Hebrew of the enlightenment which included some secular writings.[2] Later, he learned French, German, and Russian, and was sent to Dünaburg for further education. Reading the Hebrew-language newspaper, HaShahar, he became acquainted with the early movement of Zionism and concluded that the revival of the Hebrew language in the Land of Israel could unite all Jews worldwide.

Upon graduation Ben-Yehuda went to Paris to study at the Sorbonne University. Among the subjects he studied there were history and politics of the Middle East. While he was in Paris he met a Jew from Jerusalem, who spoke Hebrew with him. It was this use of Hebrew in a spoken form that convinced him that the revival of Hebrew as the language of a nation was feasible. Ben-Yehuda spent four years in Paris.[3]

In 1881 Ben-Yehuda immigrated to Palestine, then ruled by the Ottoman Empire, and settled in Jerusalem. He found a job teaching at the Alliance Israelite Universelle school.[4] Motivated by the surrounding ideals of renovation and rejection of the diaspora lifestyle, Ben‑Yehuda set out to develop a new language that could replace Yiddish and other regional dialects as a means of everyday communication between Jews who made aliyah from various regions of the world. Ben-Yehuda regarded Hebrew and Zionism as symbiotic: "The Hebrew language can live only if we revive the nation and return it to the fatherland," he wrote.[4]

To accomplish the task, Ben-Yehuda insisted with the Committee of the Hebrew Language that, to quote the Committee records, "In order to supplement the deficiencies of the Hebrew language, the Committee coins words according to the rules of grammar and linguistic analogy from Semitic roots: Aramaic and especially from Arabic roots" (Joshua Blau, page 33).

Ben-Yehuda was married twice, to two sisters.[5] His first wife, Devora (née Jonas), died in 1891 of tuberculosis, leaving him with five small children.[6] Her final wish[7] was that Eliezer marry her younger sister, Paula Beila. Soon after his wife Devora's death, three of his children died of diphtheria within a period of 10 days. Six months later, he married Paula,[3] who took the Hebrew name "Hemda."[8] Hemda Ben-Yehuda became an accomplished journalist and author in her own right, ensuring the completion of the Hebrew dictionary in the decades after Eliezer's death, as well as mobilising fundraising and coordinating committees of scholars in both Palestine and abroad.

Ben‑Yehuda raised his son, Ben-Zion Ben-Yehuda (the first name meaning "son of Zion"), entirely in Hebrew. He did not allow his son to be exposed to other languages during childhood. He even berated his wife for singing a Russian lullaby. Ben-Zion thus became the first native speaker of modern Hebrew as a mother tongue.

Journalistic career

Ben-Yehuda was the editor of several Hebrew-language newspapers: HaZvi, Hashkafa, and HaOr. HaZvi was closed down for a year in the wake of opposition from Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox community, which fiercely objected to the use of Hebrew, their holy tongue, for everyday conversation.[3]

Lexicography

Eliezer Ben-Yehuda at his desk in Jerusalem - c1912
Eliezer Ben-Yehuda while working on the Hebrew dictionary, 1912.

Ben-Yehuda was a major figure in the establishment of the Committee of the Hebrew Language (Va'ad HaLashon), later the Academy of the Hebrew Language, an organization that still exists today. He was the author of the first modern Hebrew dictionary and became known as the "reviver" (המחיה) of the Hebrew language, despite opposition to some of the words he coined.[3] Many of these words have become part of the language but others—some 2,000 words—never caught on. His word for "tomato", for instance, was bandura, but Hebrew speakers today use the word agvania.[4]

Ancient languages and modern Standard Arabic were major sources for Ben-Yehuda and the Committee. According to Joshua Blau, quoting the criteria insisted on by Ben-Yehuda: "In order to supplement the deficiencies of the Hebrew language, the Committee coins words according to the rules of grammar and linguistic analogy from Semitic roots: Aramaic, Canaanite, Egyptian [sic] ones and especially from Arabic roots." Concerning Arabic, Ben-Yehuda maintained, inaccurately according to Blau and historical evidence, that Arabic roots are "ours": "the roots of Arabic were once a part of the Hebrew language ... lost, and now we have found them again!"[9]

Death and commemoration

Ben-Yehuda home
Ben-Yehuda home on Ethiopia St., Jerusalem

In December 1922, Ben-Yehuda, 64, died of tuberculosis, from which he suffered most of his life. He was buried on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.[10] His funeral was attended by 30,000 people.[4]

Ben-Yehuda built a house for his family in the Talpiot neighborhood of Jerusalem, but died three months before it was completed.[11] His wife Hemda lived there for close to thirty years. Ten years after her death, her son Ehud transferred the title of the house to the Jerusalem municipality for the purpose of creating a museum and study center. Eventually it was leased to a church group from Germany who established a center there for young German volunteers.[12] The house is now a conference center and guesthouse run by the German organization Action Reconciliation Service for Peace (ARSP), which organizes workshops, seminars and Hebrew language ulpan programs.[13]

In his book Was Hebrew Ever a Dead Language, Cecil Roth summed up Ben-Yehuda's contribution to the Hebrew language: "Before Ben‑Yehuda, Jews could speak Hebrew; after him, they did."

See also

References

  1. ^ Green, David B. (7 January 2013). "This Day in Jewish History – 1858: Hebrew's Reviver Is Born". Haaretz. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  2. ^ "Young Ben-Yehuda". huji.ac.il.
  3. ^ a b c d Naor, Mordechai. "Flesh-and-Blood Prophet". Haaretz. Retrieved 1 October 2008.
  4. ^ a b c d Balint, Benjamin. "Confessions of a polyglot". Haaretz.
  5. ^ St. John 1952.
  6. ^ St. John 1952, p. 125.
  7. ^ St. John 1952, p. 149.
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 22 October 2007. Retrieved 6 November 2007.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ Blau 1981, p. 32.
  10. ^ "Mount of Olives – Jerusalem". trekker.co.il.
  11. ^ On a small Jerusalem street, a historic literary rivalry
  12. ^ "Ben-Yehuda Home". fulfillment-of-prophecy.com. Archived from the original on 16 March 2009.
  13. ^ "Beit Ben Yehuda – International Meeting Center in Jerusalem". beit-ben-yehuda.org.

Further reading

  • Blau, Joshua The Renaissance of Modern Hebrew and Modern Standard Arabic. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. 1981.
  • Fellman, Jack (1973). The Revival of a Classical Tongue: Eliezer Ben Yehuda and the Modern Hebrew Language. The Hague, Netherlands: Mouton. 1973. ISBN 90-279-2495-3
  • St. John, Robert (1952). Tongue of the Prophets. The Life Story of Eliezer Ben Yehuda. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company Inc. ISBN 0-8371-2631-2.
  • Lang, Yosef . The Life of Eliezer Ben Yehuda. Yad Yitzhak Ben Zvi, 2 volumes, (Hebrew).
  • Ilan Stavans, Resurrecting Hebrew. (2008).

External links

1922 in Mandatory Palestine

Events in the year 1922 in the British Mandate of Palestine.

Beit Ben-Yehuda

Beit Ben-Yehuda is a historical home built in Arnona-Talpiot Neighborhood in Jerusalem for Eliezer Ben Yehuda, known as "the reviver of the Hebrew language".

Ben Yehuda Street (Jerusalem)

Ben Yehuda Street (Hebrew: רחוב בן יהודה‎), known as the "Midrachov" (Hebrew: מדרחוב‎) is a major street in downtown Jerusalem, Israel. It joins with Jaffa Road and King George Street to form the Downtown Triangle central business district. It is now a pedestrian mall and closed to vehicular traffic. The street runs from the intersection of King George Street to Zion Square and Jaffa Road. The street is named after the founder of Modern Hebrew, Eliezer Ben-Yehuda.

Ben Yehuda Street (Tel Aviv)

Ben Yehuda Street is a street in Tel Aviv, Israel. The street runs from an intersection with Allenby Street, northwards intersecting where it runs roughly with the sea front to the west and Dizengoff Street to the east. At the northernmost end, the joins with Dizegoff Street, near Yarkon Park. The street is named after the founder of Modern Hebrew, the Litvak lexicographer and newspaper editor Eliezer Ben-Yehuda.

Ben Yehuda Street bombings

The Ben Yehuda Street bombings refer to a series of attacks by Palestinian Arabs and suicide bombers on civilians in downtown Jerusalem, Israel in 1948 and later on. The attacks were carried out on Ben Yehuda Street, a major thoroughfare, later a pedestrian mall, named for the founder of modern Hebrew, Eliezer Ben Yehuda.

Central Zionist Archives

The Central Zionist Archives (CZA; Hebrew: הארכיון הציוני המרכזי) is the official archives of the institutions of the Zionist Movement: the World Zionist Organization, the Jewish Agency, the Jewish National Fund, and Keren Hayesod/the United Israel Appeal as well as the archives of the World Jewish Congress. The CZA preserves the files created in the course of the activities of these bodies and the secondary bodies created by them. In addition, the Central Zionist Archives holds the files of the institutions of the Jewish population in Palestine before the establishment of the State of Israel.

Similarly, the Central Zionist Archives preserves more than 1,500 personal papers of the leaders and activists of the Zionist Movement and the Jewish population in Palestine before the establishment of the State. The list of personal papers includes well-known figures in modern Zionist history, such as Theodor Herzl, Nahum Sokolow, David Wolffsohn, Max Bodenheimer, Henrietta Szold, Eliezer Ben Yehuda, Haim Arlosoroff and other functionaries and professionals.

The CZA collections include: files and printed material, a Maps and Plans Collection, a Photograph Collection, a Posters and Handbills Collection, a Newspaper and Periodicals Collection, a library, a Microfilm Collection, an Audio Collection and an Artifacts Collection.

Cultural Zionism

Cultural Zionism (Hebrew: צִיּוֹנוּת רוּחָנִית‬, translit. Tsiyonut ruchanit) is a strain of the concept of Zionism that values creating a Jewish state with its own secular Jewish culture and history, including language and historical roots, rather than other Zionist ideas such as political Zionism. The man considered to have founded the concept of cultural Zionism is Asher Ginsberg, better known as Ahad Ha'am. With his secular vision of a Jewish "spiritual center" in Israel, he confronted Theodor Herzl. Unlike Herzl, the founder of political Zionism, Ha'am strived for "a Jewish state and not merely a state of Jews".

Dola Ben-Yehuda Wittmann

Dola Ben‑Yehuda Wittmann (12 July 1902 – 18 November 2004) was the daughter of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda who was the driving spirit behind the revival of the Hebrew language in the modern era..

Ehud (given name)

Ehud (Hebrew: אֵהוּד‬) is a Biblical given name, currently common in Israel. The etymology is unknown.

The name "Ehud" was not attested as a first name among Jews until the 20th century. Zionism, as part of its nation-building process—encouraged the use of names of Jewish heroes and warriors of ancient times, such as Ehud, and as a result, it has become a common name in contemporary Israel. Two prime ministers of Israel have had it as a first name: Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert.

Israelis named Ehud are often nicknamed "Udi".

While the earliest known use is the Hebrew judge, the etymology is unknown. According to Amos Hakham medieval rabbis favored one of two improbable explanations. Some, like the Vilna Gaon, claimed that the original name was אחוד‬ (Eħud), but the letter ח‬ ħet had become a ה‬ he and thus relates to 'unity' אחד‬. Others claimed that the name relates to 'glory' הוד‬. The modern Israeli Hebrew verb, 'he sympathized' אהד‬ is unrelated to the Biblical name Ehud. Eliezer Ben-Yehuda coined this verb, deriving it from the Arabic cognate hawadah, 'he treated with indulgence' or kindness. None of the above claims are accepted by contemporary linguists as legitimate etymologies or translations for the name.

Ehud can refer to the following people

Ehud (Ehud ben Gera), Hebrew judge in the Book of Judges

Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister from 2006 to 2009

Ehud Barak, the Israeli prime minister from 1999 to 2001, and minister of defense as of 2007

Ehud "Udi" Adam, retired Israeli general

Ehud Adiv, Israeli, formerly a pro-Palestinian political activist

Ehud Banai (born 1953), Israeli singer and songwriter

Ehud Hrushovski, Israeli mathematician

Ehud Manor (died 2005), Israeli poet and TV personality

Ehud Netzer, Israeli archaeologist

Ehud Shapiro, Israeli scientist

Ehud Tenenbaum, Israeli hacker

Ehud Vaks, Israeli judo athlete

HaZvi

HaZvi (Hebrew: הצבי‎, also Hatzevi, literally 'The Gazelle') was a Hebrew-language newspaper published in Jerusalem from 1884 to 1914 by Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, a leading pioneer of the revival of Hebrew as a spoken tongue.

Hemda Ben-Yehuda

Hemda Ben‑Yehuda (Hebrew: חֶמְדָּה בֵּן־יְהוּדָה‬; 1873–1951) was a Jewish journalist and author, and the wife of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda.

Itamar Ben-Avi

Itamar Ben-Avi (איתמר בן-אב"י) (born 31 July 1882, died 8 April 1943) was the first native speaker of Hebrew in modern times. He was a journalist and Zionist activist.

Ludwig Mayer

Ludwig Mayer, an Israeli bookseller, was born in Prenzlau (1879) to a family of Jewish wool merchants. After apprenticing as a bookseller he moved to Ottoman Palestine in 1908 to open the region's first modern book-store in Jerusalem. His shop was a fixture in Palestine, serving an illustrious clientele that included Eliezer Ben-Yehuda and David Ben Gurion. He died in Jerusalem in 1978.

Malka Drucker

Malka Drucker (born March 14, 1945) is an American rabbi and author living in Idyllwild, California. Ordained in 1998 from the Academy for Jewish Religion, a transdenominational seminary, Drucker was the founding rabbi of HaMakom: The Place for Passionate and Progressive Judaism, in Santa Fe for fifteen years. She is currently spiritual leader of Temple Har Shalom in Idyllwild, California.

Drucker is the author of 21 books including the award winning Frida Kahlo, Rescuers: Portraits of Moral Courage in the Holocaust, Grandma's Latkes and The Family Treasury of Jewish Holidays. Her highly acclaimed Jewish Holiday Series won the Southern California Council on Literature for Children Prize series. Eliezer Ben Yehuda: Father of Modern Hebrew won the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) Janusz Korczak Literary Competition and her biography of Frida Kahlo was chosen as an American Booksellers Association "Pick of the Lists." Drucker's collaboration with photographer Gay Block, White Fire: A Portrait of Women Spiritual Leaders in America, received the 2005 Southwest PEN award for non fiction. Portraits of Jewish American Heroes published August 2008 won the New Mexico Children's Book Prize. In 2009 the collection of essays Women and Judaism, edited by Malka Drucker, was published by Praeger Books.

A 2013 dissertation from the University of New Mexico's department of anthropology, "Storied Lives in a Living Tradition: Women Rabbis and Jewish Community in 21st Century New Mexico", by Miria Kano, discusses Drucker and four other female rabbis of New Mexico.

Nissim Behar

Nissim Behar (February 15, 1848–January 1, 1931) was a Sephardi Jewish educator, born in Jerusalem, and long associated with the Alliance Israélite Universelle, both there and in the Diaspora. After receiving his pension, he became a propagandist, in 1899. for the Alliance, and later for early Zionism.

Nissim Behar can be seen as the founder of modern Hebrew language education, largely because Eliezer Ben Yehuda taught Hebrew using the new "direct method". Behar himself learned Hebrew from Ben Yehuda, the 'Father of Spoken Renovated Hebrew' and later became a teacher of modern Hebrew at the Alliance Israélite Universelle in Jerusalem, which he directed from 1882 to 1887. Behar was a strong advocate of the direct method, which prevailed in the further development of Hebrew language education in the framework of the "ulpan" system, that led to the success of Hebrew revival.

In 1901, Behar moved to New York City, where he directed the National Liberal Immigration League (1906 to 1924), to lobby against anti-immigration legislation in the United States. The League was a constant irritation for Louis Marshall of the American Jewish Committee, because it made no effort to hide its Jewish identity in its high-profile activities against restricting immigration. Marshall and the AJC, while similarly opposed to restrictions, felt any public Jewish role would undermine their lobbying campaign and provoke anti-Semitism; the AJC refrained from such public activities on the issue, and Marshall's work was usually confined to behind-the-scenes contacts with individual members of Congress. Behar was an enthusiastic propagandist for the Zionist idea; he called for the return of the Kotel Hamaaravi, the Wailing Wall, to Jewish hands.

Perelman

Perelman is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:

Bob Perelman, poet

Chaim Perelman, philosopher

Eliezer Ben-Yehuda (Eliezer Yitzhak Perelman, 1858-1922), instrumental for the modern era revival of Hebrew as a spoken language

Grigori Perelman, Russian mathematician who proved the Poincaré conjecture

Mikhail Perelman, Soviet Olympic gold medal winning gymnast

Richard B. Perelman, author of Perelman's Pocket Cyclopedia of Cigars

Ronald Perelman, wealthy investor and businessman who appears 94th on the Forbes 2006 The World's Richest People (40th in the USA)

S. J. Perelman (1904–1979), American humorist, author, and screenwriter, best known for the film Around the World in Eighty Days

Yakov Perelman, Russian author of science books for children

Vadim Perelman, Ukrainian-American film director best known for his debut House of Sand and Fog

Raymond G. Perelman, a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based philanthropist after whom the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania was named

Perlman

Perlman is an Ashkenazi Jewish surname. Notable people with the surname include:

Alfred E. Perlman, railroad executive

Anita Perlman, see B'nai B'rith Girls

Eliezer Yitzhak Perlman, birth name of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, a Jewish Litvak lexicographer, the driving spirit behind the revival of the Hebrew language in the modern era.

Elliot Perlman, author and barrister

Fredy Perlman, anarchist author, publisher and activist

Isadore Perlman, American chemist

Itzhak Perlman (born 1945), Israeli-American violinist, conductor, and pedagogue

Nathan David Perlman, lawyer and politician

Philip B. Perlman, United States Solicitor General and Maryland Secretary of State

Radia Perlman, software designer and network engineer

Ralph Perlman, Louisiana state budget director, 1967–1988

Rhea Perlman, actress

Ron Perlman, actor

Selig Perlman, economist and labor historian

Steve Perlman, entrepreneur and inventor

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