Eliezer Ben Yehuda, who transformed Hebrew from the rusty language of ancient Israel and the Bible into the dynamic, dominant language of modern-day Israel, would be 155 years old today.
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.