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Hayim Nahman Bialik
Hayim Nahman Bialik
(Hebrew: חיים נחמן ביאליק‬; January 6, 1873 – July 4, 1934), also Chaim or Haim, was a Jewish poet who wrote primarily in Hebrew
Hebrew
but also in Yiddish. Bialik was one of the pioneers of modern Hebrew
Hebrew
poetry. He was part of the vanguard of Jewish thinkers who gave voice to the breath of new life in Jewish life. Bialik ultimately came to be recognized as Israel's national poet.

Contents

1 Biography 2 Literary career 3 Move to Germany 4 Move to Tel Aviv 5 Works and influence 6 Death 7 References 8 Selected bibliography in English 9 External links

Biography[edit]

Hayyim Nahman and his wife Manya in 1925

Bialik was born in Ivnitsa (now Івниця), Zhitomir
Zhitomir
district, Volhynian Governorate
Volhynian Governorate
in the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
to Itzik-Yosef Bialik, a scholar and businessman from Zhitomir, and his wife Dinah-Priveh[1]. He had older brother Sheftel (born in 1862) and sister Chenya-Ides (born in 1871), as well as a younger sister Blyuma (born in 1875)[2]. When Bialik was still a child, his father died. In his poems, Bialik romanticized the misery of his childhood, describing seven orphans left behind—though modern biographers believe there were fewer children, including grown step-siblings who did not need to be supported. Be that as it may, from the age 7 onwards Bialik was raised in Zhitomir
Zhitomir
by his Orthodox grandfather, Yankl-Moishe Bialik. In Zhitomir
Zhitomir
he received a traditional Jewish religious education, but also explored European literature. At the age of 15, inspired by an article he read, he convinced his grandfather to send him to the Volozhin Yeshiva
Volozhin Yeshiva
in Lithuania, to study at a famous Talmudic academy under Rabbi
Rabbi
Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin, where he hoped he could continue his Jewish schooling while expanding his education to European literature as well. Attracted to the Jewish Enlightenment movement (Haskala), Bialik gradually drifted away from yeshiva life. Poems such as HaMatmid ("The Talmud
Talmud
student") written in 1898, reflect his great ambivalence toward that way of life: on the one hand admiration for the dedication and devotion of the yeshiva students to their studies, on the other hand a disdain for the narrowness of their world. At 18 he left for Odessa, the center of modern Jewish culture in the southern Russian Empire, drawn by such luminaries as Mendele Mocher Sforim and Ahad Ha'am. In Odessa, Bialik studied Russian and German language and literature, and dreamed of enrolling in the Modern Orthodox Rabbinical Seminary in Berlin. Alone and penniless, he made his living teaching Hebrew. The 1892 publication of his first poem, El Hatzipor "To the Bird," which expresses a longing for Zion, in a booklet edited by Yehoshua Ravnitzky (a future collaborator), eased Bialik's way into Jewish literary circles in Odessa. He joined the Hovevei Zion movement and befriended Ahad Ha'am, who had a great influence on his Zionist
Zionist
outlook. In 1892 Bialik heard news that the Volozhin yeshiva had closed and returned home to Zhitomir
Zhitomir
to prevent his grandfather from discovering that he had discontinued his religious education. He arrived to discover his grandfather and his older brother both on their deathbeds. Following their deaths, Bialik married Manya Averbuch[3] in 1893. For a time he served as a bookkeeper in his father-in-law's lumber business in Korostyshiv, near Kiev. But when this proved unsuccessful, he moved in 1897 to Sosnowiec, a small town in Zaglembia, southern Poland, which was then part of the Russian Empire, near the border with Prussia and Austria. In Sosnowiec, Bialik worked as a Hebrew
Hebrew
teacher and tried to earn extra income as a coal merchant, but the provincial life depressed him. He was finally able to return to Odessa
Odessa
in 1900, having secured a teaching job. Bialik’s first visit to the US was to Hartford, CT, where he stayed with Cousin Raymond Bialeck and his family. His closest living relatives in the US include Hal Bialeck, Alison Bialeck and Richard Bialeck. Literary career[edit]

A young Bialik

For the next two decades, Bialik taught and continued his activities in Zionist
Zionist
and literary circles, as his literary fame continued to rise. This is considered Bialik's "golden period". In 1901 his first collection of poetry was published in Warsaw, and was greeted with much critical acclaim, to the point that he was hailed "the poet of national renaissance." Bialik relocated to Warsaw
Warsaw
briefly in 1904 as literary editor of the weekly magazine HaShiloah founded by Ahad Ha'am, a position he served for six years. In 1903 Bialik was sent by the Jewish Historical Commission in Odessa to interview survivors of the Kishinev
Kishinev
pogroms and prepare a report. In response to his findings Bialik wrote his epic poem In the City of Slaughter, a powerful statement of anguish at the situation of the Jews. Bialik's condemnation of passivity against anti-Semitic violence is said to have influenced the founding Jewish self-defense groups in the Russian Empire, and eventually the Haganah
Haganah
in Palestine. Bialik visited Palestine in 1909. In the early 20th century, Bialik founded with Ravnitzky, Simcha Ben Zion
Zion
and Elhanan Levinsky, a Hebrew
Hebrew
publishing house, Moriah, which issued Hebrew
Hebrew
classics and school texts. He translated into Hebrew various European works, such as Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Schiller's Wilhelm Tell, Cervantes' Don Quixote, and Heine's poems; and from Yiddish
Yiddish
S. Ansky's The Dybbuk. Throughout the years 1899–1915, Bialik published about 20 of his Yiddish
Yiddish
poems in different Yiddish
Yiddish
periodicals in the Russian Empire. These poems are often considered to be among the best achievements of modern Yiddish
Yiddish
poetry of that period. In collaboration with Ravnitzky, Bialik published Sefer HaAggadah (1908–1911, The Book of Legends), a three-volume edition of the folk tales and proverbs scattered through the Talmud. For the book they selected hundreds of texts and arranged them thematically. The Book of Legends was immediately recognized as a masterwork and has been reprinted numerous times. Bialik also edited the poems of the medieval poet and philosopher Ibn Gabirol. He began a modern commentary on the Mishnah, but only completed Zeraim, the first of the six Orders (in the 1950s, the Bialik Institute published a commentary on the entire Mishnah
Mishnah
by Hanoch Albeck, which is currently out of print). He additionally added several commentaries on the Talmud. In Odessa, namely in 1919, he was also able to found the Dvir publishing house, which would later become famous.[4][5] This publishing house, now based in Israel, is still in existence, but is now known as Kinneret Zmora-Bitan Dvir after Dvir was purchased by the Zmora-Bitan publishing house in 1986, which later fused with Kinneret as well. Bialik lived in Odessa
Odessa
until 1921, when the Moriah publishing house was closed by Communist
Communist
authorities, as a result of mounting paranoia following the Bolshevik Revolution. With the intervention of Maxim Gorki, a group of Hebrew
Hebrew
writers were given permission by the Soviet government to leave the country. While in Odessa
Odessa
he had befriended the soprano Isa Kremer
Isa Kremer
whom he had a profound influence on. It was through his influence that she became an exponent of Yiddish
Yiddish
music on the concert stage; notably becoming the first woman to concertize that music. Move to Germany[edit] Bialik then moved – via Poland and Turkey – to Berlin, where together with his friends Ravnitzky and Shmaryahu Levin
Shmaryahu Levin
he re-established the Dvir publishing house. Bialik published in Dvir the first Hebrew language
Hebrew language
scientific journal with teachers of the rabbinical college Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums contributing. In Berlin
Berlin
Bialik joined a community of Jewish authors and publishers such as Samuel Joseph Agnon
Samuel Joseph Agnon
(sponsored by the owner of Schocken Department Stores, Salman Schocken, who later founded Schocken Verlag), Simon Dubnow, Israel
Israel
Isidor Elyashev (Ba'al-Machshoves), Uri Zvi Greenberg, Jakob Klatzkin (founded Eschkol publishing house in Berlin), Moshe Kulbak, Jakob-Wolf Latzki-Bertoldi (founded Klal publishing house in Berlin
Berlin
in 1921), Simon Rawidowicz (co-founder of Klal), Salman Schneur, Nochum Shtif (Ba'al-Dimion), Shaul Tchernichovsky, elsewhere in Germany Shoshana Persitz with Omanuth publishing house in Bad Homburg v.d.H. and Martin Buber. They met in the Hebrew
Hebrew
Club Beith haWa'ad ha'Ivri בית הועד העברי (in Berlin's Scheunenviertel) or in Café Monopol, which had a Hebrew
Hebrew
speaking corner, as Eliezer Ben-Yehuda's son Itamar Ben-Avi recalled, and in Café des Westens (both in Berlin's more elegant western boroughs). The then still Soviet theatre HaBimah toured through Germany, renowned by Albert Einstein, Alfred Kerr
Alfred Kerr
and Max Reinhardt. Bialik succeeded Saul Israel
Israel
Hurwitz after his death (8 August 1922) as Hebrew
Hebrew
chief editor at Klal publishing house, which published 80 titles in 1922.[6] On January 1923 Bialik's 50th birthday was celebrated in the old concert hall of the Berlin
Berlin
Philharmonic bringing together everybody who was anybody.[7] In the years of Inflation Berlin
Berlin
had become a centre of Yiddish
Yiddish
and Hebrew
Hebrew
and other foreign language publishing and printing, because books could be produced at ever falling real expenses and sold to a great extent for stable foreign currency. Many Hebrew
Hebrew
and Yiddish
Yiddish
titles were also translated into German. Once the old inflationary currency (Mark) was replaced by the new stable Rentenmark and Reichsmark this period ended and many publishing houses closed or relocated elsewhere, as did many prominent publishers and authors. Move to Tel Aviv[edit]

Beit Bialik mid 1920's

Bialik building Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv
2015

In 1924, Bialik relocated with his publishing house Dvir to Tel Aviv, devoting himself to cultural activities and public affairs. Bialik was immediately recognized as a celebrated literary figure. He delivered the address that marked the opening (in 1925) of the Hebrew
Hebrew
University in Jerusalem
Jerusalem
and was a member of its board of governors.[citation needed] In 1927 he became head of the Hebrew
Hebrew
Writers Union, a position he retained for the remainder of his life. In 1933 his 60th birthday was celebrated with festivities nationwide[clarification needed], and all the schoolchildren of Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv
were taken to meet him and pay their respects to him. Works and influence[edit] Bialik wrote several different modes of poetry. He is perhaps most famous for his long, nationalistic poems, which call for a reawakening of the Jewish people. Bialik had his own awakening even before writing those poems, arising out of the anger and shame he felt at the Jewish response to pogroms. In his poem "Massa Nemirov", for example, Bialik excoriated the Jews of Kishinev
Kishinev
who had allowed their persecutors to wreak their will without raising a finger to defend themselves.[8] However no less effective are his passionate love poems, his personal verse, or his nature poems. Last but not least, Bialik's songs for children are a staple of Israeli nursery life. From 1908 onwards, he wrote mostly prose. By writing his works in Hebrew, Bialik contributed significantly to the revival of the Hebrew
Hebrew
language, which before his days existed primarily as an ancient, scholarly tongue. His influence is felt deeply in all modern Hebrew
Hebrew
literature. The generation of Hebrew language poets who followed in Bialik's footsteps, including Jacob Steinberg and Jacob Fichman, are called "the Bialik generation". To this day, Bialik is recognized as Israel's national poet. Bialik House, his former home at 22 Bialik Street in Tel Aviv, has been converted into a museum, and functions as a center for literary events. The municipality of Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv
awards the Bialik Prize in his honor. Kiryat Bialik, a suburb of Haifa, and Givat Hen, a moshav bordering the city of Raanana, are named after him. He is the only person to have two streets named after him in the same Israeli city – Bialik Street and Hen Boulevard in Tel Aviv. There is also Bialik Hebrew
Hebrew
Day School[9] in Toronto, ON, Canada; Bialik High School in Montreal, QC, Canada; and a cross-communal Jewish Zionist
Zionist
school in Melbourne called Bialik College. In Caracas, Venezuela, the largest Jewish community school is named Herzl-Bialik. Also in Rosario, Argentina the only Jewish school is named after him. Bialik's poems have been translated into at least 30 languages, and set to music as popular songs. These poems, and the songs based on them, have become an essential part of the education and culture of modern Israel. Bialik wrote most of his poems using "Ashkenazi" pronunciation, while modern Israeli Hebrew
Hebrew
uses the Sephardi pronunciation. Consequently, Bialik's poems are rarely recited in the meter in which they were written. Death[edit] Bialik died in Vienna, Austria, on July 4, 1934, following a failed prostate operation.[10] He was buried in Tel Aviv; a large mourning procession followed from his home on the street named after him, to his final resting place. References[edit]

^ Birth records of both Hayim and Blyuma Byalik are available at JewishGen.org (genealogical database for Ukraine). Date of birth: January 6, 1873. Place of birth: Ivnitsa, Zhitomir
Zhitomir
district, Volhynian Governorate. Parents: Itsko-Yosef Byalik (son of Yankel-Moyshe Byalik), from Zhitomir, and Dinah-Priva Byalik. His sister Blyuma was born on January 20, 1875, also in Ivnitsa. ^ Revision list with all members of the Bialik family in Zhitomir (including Hayim-Nakhman, aged 10) from 1884 is available at JewishGen.org. His father was still alive and 56 years old at the revision, his mother was 51. ^ Holtzman, Avner (21 February 2017). "Hayim Nahman Bialik: Poet
Poet
of Hebrew". Yale University Press – via Google Books.  ^ "English".  ^ "Natasha Farrant : Writer & Literary Scout".  ^ Maren Krüger, 'Buchproduktion im Exil. Der Klal-Verlag', In: Juden in Kreuzberg: Fundstücke, Fragmente, Erinnerungen …, Berliner Geschichtswerkstatt e.V. (ed.), Berlin: Edition Hentrich, pp. 421–426, here p. 422. ISBN 3-89468-002-4 ^ Michael Brenner, 'Blütezeit des Hebräischen: Eine vergessene Episode im Berlin
Berlin
der zwanziger Jahre', In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 23 September 2000, supplement 'Ereignisse und Gestalten', p. III. ^ Katz, Shmuel (1996). Lone Wolf: A Biography of Vladimir Jabotinsky. Barricade Books. p. 47-48. ISBN 1569800421.  ^ "Home - Bialik Hebrew
Hebrew
Day School". Bialik Hebrew
Hebrew
Day School.  ^ "Bialik dies suddenly" (PDF). Jewish Daily Bulleting (No. 2889). Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 5 July 1934. Retrieved 18 November 2014. 

Selected bibliography in English[edit]

Children's literature portal

Selected Writings (poetry and prose) Hasefer, 1924; New York, New Palestine, 1926; Philadelphia, Jewish Publication Society, 1939; New York, Histadrut Ivrit of America, 1948; New York, Bloch, 1965; New York, Union of American Hebrew
Hebrew
Congregations, 1972; Tel Aviv, Dvir and the Jerusalem
Jerusalem
Post, 1981; Columbus, Alpha, 1987 The Short Friday Tel Aviv, Hashaot, 1944 Knight of Onions and Knight of Garlic New York, Jordan, 1939 Random Harvest – The Novellas of C. N. Bialik, Boulder, Colorado, Westview Press (Perseus Books), 1999 The Modern Hebrew
Hebrew
Poem Itself (2003), ISBN 0-8143-2485-1 Songs from Bialik: Selected Poems of Hayim Nahman Bialik, Syracuse, Syracuse University Press, 2000 Selected Poems: Bilingual Edition, (translated by Ruth Nevo), Jerusalem: Dvir, 1981.

External links[edit] Media related to Hayyim Nahman Bialik at Wikimedia Commons

Biography at the Jewish Virtual Library Works by or about Hayim Nahman Bialik
Hayim Nahman Bialik
at Internet Archive Works by Hayim Nahman Bialik
Hayim Nahman Bialik
at LibriVox
LibriVox
(public domain audiobooks) Petri Liukkonen. "Hayim Nahman Bialik". Books and Writers Hayim Nahman Bialik
Hayim Nahman Bialik
Personal Manuscripts and Letters

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 41958361 LCCN: n50030124 ISNI: 0000 0001 0891 7022 GND: 118851659 SELIBR: 210961 SUDOC: 035002190 BNF: cb125692933 (data) MusicBrainz: 998d6c78-2292-46c1-9398-4dad6d86df43 NDL: 00865268 NKC: kup19960000007672 BNE: XX1221

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