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Eliezer Ben-Yehuda
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Educator
    (January 7, 1858-December 16, 1922)
    Born in Luzhky, Lithuania
    Birth name was Eliezer Yitzhak Perlman
    Jewish Litvak lexicographer of Hebrew and newspaper editor
    Established the Hebrew Language Council (The Academy of Hebrew Language), in 1889
    Leader in the revival of Hebrew as a spoken language in the modern era
    Promoted the popular use of Hebrew as a language in everyday settings
    Editor of the Hebrew-language newspapers HaZvi, Hashkafa, and HaOr
    Published the seventeen-volume ‘Complete Dictionary of Ancient and Modern Hebrew’ (1908-59)
    Talpiot neighborhood home was converted to a conference center and guesthouse run by the German Action Reconciliation Service for Peace (ARSP), organizing workshops, seminars and Hebrew language programs
    He was a featured segment on 'Shalom Sesame.'
    He claimed to have had a holy vision of the Promised Land which called on him to revive the Hebrew language.
    He changed his surname to a term meaning ‘Son of Judah.’
    Joseph Telushkin called him ‘meshugga le-davar’ over Hebrew’s revival.
    His ‘HaZvi’ publication was closed down for a year by Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox leaders.
    He made his wife take a vow that they would only speak Hebrew in their home. The same went for their children, when they had them.
    This was particularly difficult given the fact that Hebrew was nowhere near as commonplace back then, lacking words for even basic household terms.
    Some of the words he coined in Hebrew, such as the term for ‘fudge,’ ended up having dual uses, while other words, like the Hebrew word for 'tomato' just never caught on.
    His obsession with the revival of Hebrew as a language got to be so extreme that he once even yelled at his wife when he caught her singing a Russian lullaby to their young son.
    He said that the roots of Arabic were 'ours' 'once a part of the Hebrew language . . . lost, and now we have found them again.'
    He married his wife's younger sister after her death, claiming that she had made his promise on her deathbed.
    Theodore Herzl all but snubbed him on his first visit to Palestine (he wanted the Israeli state's official language to be German).
    He was studying the Hebrew Bible at the age of three.
    He taught himself French, German, English, and Russian.
    He was sent to a Yeshiva by his parents in hopes that he would become a rabbi.
    Largely uninterested in religious matters, he remained noncommittal. However, he began to take Hebrew seriously with his discovery of the early Zionist movement.
    Shortly after his first wife's death, three of his children died of diphtheria within a period of 10 days.
    He virtually invented the modern Hebrew language, using words from the Torah to create new ones.
    Altogether, he was responsible for the creation of well over 300 original Hebrew words (not an easy task considering that words like 'ice cream,' 'pistol,' and 'newspaper' couldn't have been commonplace in the Biblical era).
    He developed the word 'khayal' for the word 'soldier' and even gave it a feminine form 'khayellet.'
    This found its way in the modern vernacular when the IDF started inducting women, as well as men, into its ranks.
    Cecil Roth summed up his contributions to the Hebrew language by writing: 'Before Ben‑Yehuda, Jews could speak Hebrew; after him, they did.'
    His funeral procession was attended by 30,000 mourners.
    He died before completing his 'Modern Hebrew' - it was left up to his second wife to complete the massive project (and even she died before it was actually published).
    He said 'If we wish that the name Israel be not extinguished, then we are in duty bound to create something which may serve as a center for our entire people... [and the national body and fill it with life.

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair


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