Page 77 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 29

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71
K
abakoff
—E
liezer
ben
Y
ehuda
her sister Deborah, took her place and became Ben Yehuda’s wife.
Her Hebrew volume
Ben Yehuda: Hayyav u-Mifalo
(Ben Yehuda:
His Life and Work, Jerusalem, 1940) chronicles the prodigious
effort to obtain suitable backing for the project. The first ray
of hope was perceived when the well-known Berlin publishing
house Langescheid agreed to publish the dictionary. Still the
difficult task remained of obtaining financial support for each
successive volume. Moreover, the type had to be set in Ben
Yehuda’s own printing shop and then shipped to Berlin.
During Ben Yehuda’s lifetime five volumes of the ultimate
seventeen appeared, from 1910 to 1915. The work of publication
was interrupted by World War I when Ben Yehuda continued
to work on his dictionary in New York. The sixth volume, which
he had prepared, appeared in 1925, three years after his death.
From the mass of material he had compiled, succeeding volumes
were edited by various scholars, including Max Margolis, J. N.
Epstein and M. H. Segal. It was only after a committee for the
completion of the project was finally set up with Naphtali H.
Tur-Sinai as editor that the entire work was completed, the last
volume appearing in 1959. The following year an American
edition was made available.
Ben Yehuda’s stay in America during the war years proved to
be fruitful. He continued his research in a special room provided
by the New York Public Library. A committee, headed by Morris
Wertheim, was formed to provide financial backing for his work.
When his 60th anniversary was observed here in 1918, laudatory
articles were published in the American Hebrew press and a special
Sefer Zikkaron
(Commemorative Volume) was published in his
honor by the Histadruth Ivrith under the editorship of Reuben
Brainin. For the Histadruth Ivrith, Ben Yehuda prepared a volume
entitled
A d E imatai D ibberu Avotenu Ivrit?
(Until When Did
Our Fathers Speak Hebrew?), which he later incorporated in
extended form in the Prolegomenon to his dictionary, and in a
brochure
Ivr it ve-Loazim
(Hebrew and Foreign Language Usage).
It was in the American Hebrew weekly
Ha-Toren
that Ben Yehuda
first published his autobiographical chapters
Ha-Halom ve-Shivro,
which later appeared as part of the first volume of his collected
writings (Jerusalem, 1944). His informative article on the first
four Hebrew speaking families in Jerusalem appeared in the col-
lective volume
Luah Ahieber
(New York, 1918).
While working on the Prolegomenon to his dictionary during
his American stay, Ben Yehuda assiduously gathered material for
a corpus of post-biblical Hebrew source material which he planned
to issue under the title
A vo t ha-Lashon ha-Ivrit shele-Ahare ha-
Mikra
(Fathers of Post-Biblical Hebrew). With the encourage-
ment of such scholars as Louis Ginzberg and Max Margolis, he