MJL’s latest biography tells the story of Eliezer Ben Yehuda, the father of Modern Hebrew. So determined to bring Hebrew to the religious population of Palestine in the early 20th century, he, along with his wife, dressed up as ultra-Orthodox Jews–peyot, sheitels, and all–in order to relate to the community.
The only problem? Ben Yehuda was vehemently opposed to religion, with as much fervor as he was a nationalist.Â Everything he did was an attempt to further Zionism. A recent Forward column explains:
Yet when Ben-Yehuda began publishing his weekly Hebrew newspaper Hatsvi in Jerusalem in the autumn of 1884, the date on its first issue was, â€œFriday, 5 Heshvan, 1816 years since the destruction of the Temple, 5645….” He replaced a chronology that started with Godâ€™s creation of the world with one that started with the loss of Jewish political independence in antiquity. (MORE)
Ben Yehuda dated all of his papers relative to the Roman conquest of Jerusalem in 68 CE.
So at this time of the year, it’s only fitting, in honor of Mr. Ben Yehudah, to wish you a Happy 1940!
Pronounced: yuh-HOO-dah or yuh-hoo-DAH (oo as in boot), Origin: Hebrew, Judah, one of Joseph’s brothers in the Torah.