Page 75 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 29

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69
K
abakoff
—E
liezer
ben
Y
ehuda
was influenced by the European press and his effort to introduce
secular elements soon brought him into conflict with Frumkin.
Ben Yehuda became the editor of
Mevaseret Zion,
a monthly
supplement to
Havazelet,
which reflected a new direction in Pal■
estinian journalism. Later he edited his own newspapers, including
the weekly
Ha-Zevi
and
Hashkafah
and the first Palestinian daily,
Ha-Or.
In these publications Ben Yehuda espoused his national
ideas and various reforms in the old style life of the Yishuv. His
trenchant articles often evoked the wrath of the Orthodox com-
munity leaders who anathematized him and rejoiced when he
was imprisoned by the Turkish government. Although tinged by
sensationalism, Ben Yehuda’s newspapers played an important
role in developing a modern journalistic style and introducing
many linguistic innovations.
His Finest Years of Activity
Ben Yehuda’s early years of activity in Jerusalem were among
his finest. It was then that he established his reputation as pro-
genitor of the first Hebrew family and as a pioneer of Hebrew
speech. He also became known as a journalist and propagandist
for Zionism, as a teacher and the spiritual leader of the Bilu immi-
grants who had settled in the colonies. Believing Hebrew should
be used exclusively in school instruction, he taught in the first
Hebrew school in Jerusalem. Among his early pedagogic efforts
was a small guide to Palestine entitled
Eretz Yisrael,
perhaps the
first of its kind to be written from the Zionist point of view.
Never did Ben Yehuda relax his efforts on behalf of the revival
of Hebrew as a spoken tongue. When he joined with Pines in
founding the Zionist society
Tehiat Yisrael
in 1882, he made sure
its aims included the dissemination of Hebrew. In 1889 he was
among the founders of the
Safah Berurah
society, an apolitical
group which sought to foster the use of Hebrew. The following
year saw the establishment of the
Vaad ha-Lashon,
the Hebrew
Language Committee, by Ben Yehuda together with David Yellin,
A. M. Luncz and Rabbi Hayyim Hirshenson. He remained presi-
dent of this group until his death. The present day Hebrew Lan-
guage Academy is an outgrowth of these early efforts.
Throughout his varied activities Ben Yehuda was constantly
confronted with the absence of Hebrew terms for countless every-
day needs. He had come to realize that just as the Jewish people
could not become a viable nation without returning to the land
of its fathers, so it could not become a living nation without
revitalizing the language of its fathers. In the Prolegomenon to