There are so many great items in our collection and although it is hard for us to choose which ones we like best, here we list some of our favorites. The most recent review is featured below and you can also browse past reviews below. To read a past review, just click the cover of the book and enjoy.
Resurrecting Hebrew by Ilan Stavans begins and ends with a dream. The dream invites Stavans to seek for his lost tongue of Hebrew, a language he no longer speaks, and to search for the story of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda who dared to use a threefold approach to ensure that Hebrew became the spoken language of Israel. Using his own family as a prototype, Ben-Yehuda introduced Hebrew in the home, Hebrew in the school and the Hebrew Dictionary Project Jews in Israel to reestablish Hebrew as the sacred tongue.
Stavans’ questing to discover the creation of Modern Hebrew begins his research by visiting Israel and her people. His searches lead him to interview David Grossman, a possible “child of Ben-Yehuda.” He visits Israel to learn that nearly every major city has a Ben-Yehuda street. He probes into the family life of Ben-Yehuda. He studies Luzzato who studied the Talmud as a child, and focused on Hebrew. His studies of the Hebrew Dictionary Project take us into the world of lexicography and the creation of databases which are used to create concordances. He imagines that Ben-Yehuda could have been part Samuel Johnson, the 18th century polymath (journalist editor of Shakespeare, scholar of English Literature) and traveler (lover of curiosity and big meals) and part George Bush, the ancestor of presidents, who was a ‘Hebraist’.
Stavans also learns about those who learned Hebrew in order to translate, i.e. Emma Lazarus. He discovers Jorge Luis Borges who became a librarian in order to eat but whose essay, I, a Jew and whose story The Aleph probed the meaning and practice of Judaism.
Stavans’ journey ends where he began, recalling his dream about the Liwerant, part woman, part feathered vertebrate and caller to Jews to return to Hebrew, the source of their Torah and language. Stavans says, “Remember your Hebrew and the language that made you.” I’m thinking of enrolling in Ulpan …tomorrow.
Linda Blasnik, Librarian