Monday, May 4, 2009

Herzl and Hebrew

Today Israel marked the 105th anniversary of the death of Benjamin Ze'ev Herzl (1860-1904).
This menorah greets visitors to the highest spot in Jerusalem, Mount Herzl, where Herzl's body was reburied after being brought to Israel in 1949.
Following the Dreyfus Affair young Herzl concluded that the Jewish people required an independent state of our own. His book The Jewish State detailed the Zionist vision and he founded the Zionist Movement.
But two things he got wrong.
 First, he believed that once Jews had a homeland, anti-Semitism would end.
Second, he thought that Hebrew could never be revived as a modern language for the new country.

This building proves that Hebrew is now alive and well. It is the Academy of the Hebrew Language on the Givat Ram campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
To quote the [previous] website of the Academia:

    "Brought into being by legislation in 1953 as the supreme institute for the Hebrew Language, the Academy of the Hebrew Language prescribes standards for modern Hebrew grammar, orthography, transliteration, and punctuation based upon the study of Hebrew’s historical development.
The Academy’s plenum consists of 23 members and an additional 15 academic advisors, all outstanding scholars from the disciplines of languages, linguistics, Judaic studies, and Bible.
Its members also include poets, writers, and translators.
The Academy’s decisions are binding upon all governmental agencies, including the Israel Broadcasting Authority."
. . .
"The scientific secretariat answers queries from the public on a broad variety of Hebrew linguistic matters ranging from pronunciation and spelling to suggestions for Hebrew children names.
It also oversees the work of specialized committees that develop technical terminology for a wide spectrum of professional spheres.
Over 100,000 terms have been coined by the committees on terminology established by the Academy and its predecessor, the Language Committee.
These terms are available to the public in dozens of published dictionaries and lists.
. . . The Academy invites you to participate in the realization of the dream of renewing the Hebrew language."


  1. a fascinating post. enjoyed learning something new today. always enjoy stopping by your blog.
    have a lovely week.

  2. Fascinating post! The newspaper Herzl wrote for still exists today: Die Presse, and it is still one of the best newspapers in Austria.

  3. I wonder what Herzl would say today. Like what he would say about Durban II.

  4. Brilliant and fascinating post Dina, thanks for sharing.

    Have a great week
    Regina In Pictures

  5. Zionism is a scary word for me. You know what Dina? I have some Palestinian friends here in the U.S. but none of them grew up in Palestine. This is sad. You may know better than me that the total Palestinian population worldwide is estimated between 10 and 11 million people, over half of whom are stateless and lacking citizenship in any country. Today, roughly half of all Palestinians live in the area comprising Israel, the West Bank including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. The other half, many of whom are refugees, live elsewhere around the world.

    Isn't it sad that directly and indirectly Zionism movement which tried to re-establish a homeland for the Jewish People caused Palestinian diaspora. They made a home for Jewish but destroyed Palestinians home at the same time. I don't like this story.

  6. Dina you said: "First, he believed that once Jews had a homeland, anti-Semitism would end." If you ask me about anti-Semitism among Iranians, I would definitely say it is absolutely misinterpreted and misunderstood. For example when I criticize Zionism I'm not talking about Jews or any specific religion but I'm talking about the whole story. You know I love Jewish history and Jews. This story could happen any where else in the world. If a group of people, because of historical and religious ties to a place, start building home somewhere while destroying others' homes, I would not accept that and I believe this is unfair. Immigration is different than occupation.

    Imagine Iranians claim that because Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan and several other places were historically (for centuries or even thousands of years) were part of the Greater Iran and Persian Empire, we should re-establish a "Persian" state there today. If they say/do such a thing, I would harshly criticize them as well. This is not anti-Semitism. This is about occupation and expelling.

    Anyway, I liked to say this honestly to you Dina. I do not know when and how this story will end (I hope very soon). My ideal scenario is that Palestinians come back to their home and live peacefully side by side with Jewish people in a same country with love and peace for ever.

  7. What a visionary guy. I wonder how he would feel about the state of things now.

  8. I like your photo of menorah. It is huge. I used to see like this from some homes of my friend as one of house display. This one is awesome.

  9. Interesting post indeed. I entered a world I know very little about. I'm glad I stopped by. :-)

  10. The Hawaiians place stone on stone and also strive to keep their language and world-view alive - like Israelis!

    Thank you , Dina, for another thought-inspiring post!
    Shalom & Aloha

  11. That's very interesting information and wonderful. The menorah is lovely too.

  12. Dina, this is a really interesting and informative post.
    Have a great week ahead!

  13. Very interesting, Dina.
    Every community, or région (in my country), or country try to maintain its langage alive. That's a very important thing about identity.

  14. Spectacular menorah! I've never seen one so intricate. I have one with 7 branches; is there a reason why some have 9?

  15. Thanks for all your comment, folks. Meanwhile I have time right now only to answer an easy question:

    JM, the menorah (like was in the ancient Temple in Jerusalem) has seven arms. The chanukiya is lit on the festival of Chanuka and has nine arms. They have separate names in Hebrew. But in English they both tend to be called menorah, hence the confusion.

  16. Great angle on the shot of the menorah, and some very interesting history to go with it!

    Thanks for sharing!

  17. Yes, a fascinating post . You are our info site for all things about Isreal.

  18. It's very interesting.I always love your history. Thanks

  19. The photo is striking and the story too.

    The two topics you refer to offer amazing food for thought:
    "But two things he got wrong. First, he believed that once Jews had a homeland, anti-Semitism would end. Second, he thought that Hebrew could never be revived as a modern language for the new country."

    Thanks for helping us learn and understand more about your country every day.

  20. PS - belated congratulations on your Theme Day shadow - what a great choice, so typical of your city!

  21. Dear Dina, I hope my words haven't made you upset. I just tried to express my feelings honestly. By the way, I have a gift for you and your Jewish friends in my blog.

    With lots of love and peace

  22. I would like to commend Meead for letting the Palestinian voice be heard on this topic in such a measured and amicable way. I believe Israel and Palestine need all the help they can get from people with goodwill. It's such an intricate situation, only a real commitment to success will finally make it work.

    If Catholics and Protestants are on the verge of achieving peace in Ireland, perhaps there's hope in your region too. When both parties are fed up with the killings, the pain, the suffering, perhaps they will be ready for peace.

  23. Meead, thanks for the surprise post at your blog. Everyone should see it.

    Re your other comments: You're welcome to express your feelings on "the situation" here, but I think some of the facts are missing in what you wrote.

  24. I enjoyed this post. I was watching a show on PBS television just last night by Andrew Rosenberg, called The Jewish People: A Story of Survival, and all these things were mentioned. It was a fascinating program...some of it I already knew about but I learned a thing or two also.

    You can see a link at:

  25. This was very interesting. It's sad to see that anti-semitism is still rearing its ugly head but good to know that the Hebrew language is alive and flourishing.


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