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Israelis offer a 'Yom Huledet Sameach' to Ben Yehuda, resurrector of Hebrew language

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Ariel Schalit/AP

(Read caption) This December, 2012 photo shows visitors at the Mahane Yehuda market, one of Jerusalem's free tourist attractions. Beyond its earthly past, Jerusalem has an impossible beauty with broad appeal. For residents and tourists, secular and religious souls, city slickers or nature lovers, there is always an unexplored alleyway, street corner or vista that will show you the city as you’ve never seen it before.

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If it weren’t for Eliezer Ben Yehuda, I wouldn’t be able to order ice cream, ask directions to the local furniture store, or discuss Gaza bombings in Hebrew.

Since I’m a new journalist in Israel who happens to love ice cream and arrived here with only one piece of furniture to my name, that would be grave indeed.

So I for one am grateful for Mr. Ben Yehuda, who was born 155 years ago today in the Russian empire.

Legend has it that the man was not only brilliant, but a little crazy. And you would have to be, if you were planning to try to resurrect an ancient language after roughly 2,000 years and expect it to become the primary spoken language of a country that didn't even exist yet.

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