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Ben-Yehudah Historical Dictionary Online

One of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda’s accomplishments was his Historical Dictionary of the Hebrew Language. While to some extent Ben-Yehuda’s dictionary has been superseded by the newer Historical Dictionary compiled by the Academy of the Hebrew Language, it is still an invaluable resource. I was lucky enough to find a copy of Ben-Yehuda’s dictionary to purchase a […]

Lashon Hakodesh: History, Holiness, and Hebrew

Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein was kind enough to send me a copy of his most recent book, Lashon HaKodesh: History, Holiness, & Hebrew. Rabbi Klein has done an admirable job of presenting the multi-faceted history of the Hebrew language within Jewish tradition and culture. This is not a critical history of the Hebrew language, for […]

Because They Didn’t Change Their Language: Hebrew and Egyptian

There are a number of midrashim that list the ways through which the Israelites were able to preserve their uniqueness and prevent assimilation during their sojourn in Egyptian, eventually bringing about their redemption from there. Among those things listed were that they didn’t change their dress, their language, their names, reveal their secrets, repeat gossip, […]

Origins of the Phrase Hag Sameah

The Academy of the Hebrew Language has an interesting post about the origins of the phrase חג שמח/Ḥag Sameaḥ. It turns out that this phrase is relatively new, with the first evidence of its use coming only in the twentieth century. הברכה “חג שמח” שגורה על לשוננו בתקופת החגים, אך לא תמיד היא הייתה חלק […]

Prof. Angel Sáenz-Badillos

Prof. Angel Sáenz-Badilloshe, the important scholar of Hebrew and author of A History of the Hebrew Language, has passed away. The following is from H-Judaic: H-Judaic is greatly saddened to learn of the passing of Prof. Angel Sáenz-Badillos (1940-2013), Director of the Real Colegio Complutense at Harvard University and Professor of Hebrew at Departmento de […]

Hebrew in Medieval Europe

In Haaretz there is an article by Ephraim Shoham-Steiner that describes the mounting evidence for the use of Hebrew in the public sphere in Medieval Europe. Shoham-Steiner discussed a number of important archaeological discoveries in Germany, among them the “Hebrew Cesspit” discovered in Cologne, and over a thousand tombstones with Hebrew inscriptions from Wurzberg. The […]

The Brothers Grimm, Goethe, and Biblical Hebrew

The Academy of the Hebrew Language has been increasing its web presence recently. They have an updated web site, along with a Twitter account, and a Facebook page. Today they posted a link to a post (Heb.) from their website that explains the history behind the modern Hebrew phrase, כחוט השני. The phrase occurs twice […]

The Origins of Hanukkiyah

A number of years ago I wrote a post about the origins of the word חנוכייה/Hanukkiyah. I just updated it with some new information and two images of early appearances of the word in print. חג אורים שמח. The post can be found here.

Got Hebrew?

From Haaretz: Tempers are still boiling over a conference about Israel studies that took place this summer, in which speakers were initially asked to lecture in English. Though the organizers of the annual conference of the international Association for Israel Studies eventually allowed renowned Israeli writer Sami Michael to deliver a speech about racism in […]

A 13th c. Jewish Bathroom

A few days ago David Assaf of Tel Aviv University reported (Hebrew) on his blog, Oneg Shabbat, about a most interesting archaeological find in the German city of Köln/Cologne. Köln was know to have an established Jewish community in the Middle Ages, and while digging in the Jewish Quarter, archaeologists discovered among other things a mikveh […]

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