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September 02, 1994 - Image 179

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-09-02

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records and tombstone inscrip-
tions, there were very few people
speaking Hebrew, and even few-
er writing Hebrew literature by
the late 19th century.
It is popular to begin the story
of the revival of Hebrew with the
disembarkation of Eliezer Ben-
Yehuda on the shores of Pales-
tine in 1881. Born in 1958,
Ben-Yehuda had come to Israel
with his family in 1881 and
taught high school Between 1894
and 1915 he wrote for and later
served as editor of the leading
newspapers of the day:

Mevasseret Zion, Hahavezelet,
HaZvi. Both in his private life
and in his professional activities,
Ben-Yehuda refused to speak
anything but Hebrew. He estab-
lished "The Association for the
Revival of Israel" to promulgate

The alphabet.

Hebrew culture and was a found-
ing member of the Va'ad Ha-
Lashon ("The Committee for the
Hebrew Language"). He advo-
cated simplicity and passion in
the language and fought rhetoric
and artifice.
For all Ben-Yehuda's zeal and
perseverance, the revival of a lan-
guage could not have been the
work of one man alone. The Com-
mittee for the Hebrew Language
was established in 1890 to guard
the nascent, tender Hebrew
tongue from foreign influences.
Later, in the 20th century, it be-
came responsible for coining
words as the Hebrew Language
Academy. To this day, commit-
tees established for the various
branches of knowledge ensure
the continued adjustment of He-
brew to modern reality.
Hebrew poets played a tremen-
dous role in the revival of the lan-
guage. H.N. Bialik (1873-1934)
devoted endless energy and eru-
dition to the ingathering and edit-
ing of forgotten Hebrew sources;
Shaul Tchernikhovsky (1875-
1943) engaged in a parallel ven-
ture: the translation of European
classics from antiquity to this
time, from which Hebrew poetry
had been severed in the ghetto-
The impact of these poets was
so great that by the 1920s, the
center of Jewish cultural activi-
ty had shifted from Odessa to
Palestine in the space of 30 years.


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