A Language for A Nation
Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, the pioneer of the revival of the spoken Hebrew language, first arrived in the Holy Land in 1881 at the time Hebrew had not been the spoken language of the Jewish people since Biblical times outside the Torah. By the year 1922 there were enough Jewish pioneers speaking Hebrew that the British Mandate Authority officially recognized Hebrew as the language of the Jewish people just one month before Ben Yehuda died of Tuberculosis. Ben-Yehuda was a man with a vision and driven by his passion to see and hear the Hebrew language spoken by his fellows Jews in their everyday life. He pioneered the publishing of the first Hebrew newspaper called the “Hatzvi” followed by him giving himself tirelessly to the enormous task of creating and compiling the first Hebrew dictionary providing pronunciations, grammar usage, and spellings as he translated modern words into Hebrew with precision and discipline. Sadly, he did not see his life’s work published as he died in December 1922. His wife is the one who finished compiling Ben-Yehuda’s dictionary and saw it through to publishing.
“For everything there is needed only one wise, clever and active man, with the initiative to devote all his energies to it, and the matter will progress, all obstacles in the way notwithstanding…. in every new event, every step, even the smallest in the path of progress, it is necessary that there be one pioneer who will lead the way without leaving any possibility of turning back.” ~Eliezer Ben-Yehuda 1908 “Hatzvi”
This year Israel celebrates the 158th anniversary of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda’s birth and 93rd anniversary of his death–the Jewish pioneer who revived the spoken Hebrew language.