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Eliezer Ben–Yehuda

Ben YehudaDecember 16, 1922. 93 years ago Eliezer Ben–Yehuda died.

Ben–Yehuda was the driving spirit behind the revival of Hebrew language in the modern era.

Have you ever thought of how crazy it probably was to start talking Hebrew in Israel?

Israel back then was not even a country yet. It was a land where hundreds of thousands of Jewish people from all around the world which their first language is not Hebrew, decide in an unnatural way to start talking Hebrew in order to follow a vivid dream..

Ben–Yehuda was born in Luzhki (today in Belarus). He attended “Cheder” (room in Hebrew-a traditional elementary school teaching the basics of Judaism and the Hebrew language), where he studied Hebrew and the bible from the age of three. Later on, his parents sent him to a Yeshiva. There, he was exposed to the Hebrew of enlightenment which included some secular writings. He concluded that the revival of the Hebrew language in the land of Israel could unite all Jews worldwide.

In 1881 Ben–Yehuda immigrated to Palestine. Motivated by the surrounding ideals of renovation and rejection of the diaspora lifestyle, Ben Yehuda set out to develop a new language that could replace Yiddish and other regional dialects as a means of everyday communication between Jews who made aliyah from various regions of the world.

The process of Hebrew's return to regular usage is unique; there are no other examples of a natural language without any native speakers subsequently acquiring several million such native speakers, and no other examples of a sacred language becoming a national language with millions of "first language" speakers.

I am always fascinated by this story, and today in Eliezer Ben–Yehuda’s date of death, it is a good time to acknowledge his contribution to the Hebrew language and to the state of Israel.