HEBREW LANGUAGE

It belongs to the group of Semitic languages and tells the story of over 4000 years. To this group also belongs the Aramaic language. Its elements can be found in Jewish religious literature, beginning with the Biblical texts - the oldest monument of Hebrew language. The major post-Biblical written monuments of Hebrew language were the Mishna, midrashes, and later the Talmud. In the post-Biblical times (approximately from the II century C.E.) Hebrew was no longer used as colloquial speech. It was outrivaled by Aramaic, whereas in the Diaspora people began speaking newly formed Jewish languages, which appeared as a result of a fusion of Hebrew, Aramaic and modified local dialects. These new languages were different in various places of Jewish Diaspora (Yiddish, Ladino etc.) 

A Hebrew poet
Judah Leib Gordon

In the Middle Ages the Hebrew language was used as a tool to promote culture, develop literary and scientific work. The major personalities of that time in Lithuania were Joel Sirkes, Shabtaj Hakohen, Aharon Koidanover and others 

Eliezer Ben-Jehuda, the initiator of the revival of Hebrew language
("Religious tradition"). In the 18th-19th centuries the Jewish Enlightenment movement - the Haskalah - brought new trends to Hebrew literature, namely fiction. The most famous writers in Lithuania were Avraham Mapu (1808-1867), Mordechaj Aharon Ginzburg (1795-1846), Kalman Shulman (1821-1899), also poets Judah Leib Gordon (1830-1892), Avraham Ber Lebenzon (1794-1878) and his son Micha Joseph Lebenzon (1828-1852). Samuel Joseph Fin (1818-1890) can also be included in this Pleiad. He published the first Hebrew magazine in Lithuania Pirchei cafon ("The Flowers of the North"). In the 19th-beginning of the 20th century Hebrew poets in Lithuania were Mordechaj Cevi Mane (1859-1886), Zalman Shneur (1887-1940).

At the end of the 19th century Eliezer Ben-Jehuda (1858-1922), whose origins were in Lithuania, initiated the revival of Hebrew as colloquial speech. Hebrew became the official language of the state of Israel created in 1948.

A poem by the great Jewish poet Chajim Nachman Bialik "Lo bajom velo balailia" ("Neither in the day, nor in the night") in Hebrew.  

 

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Jews in Lithuania, Vilnius, 1999-2000