Monday, October 22, 2007

Thursday Oct 23

Attended a beautiful
reception meeting for
David Yellin from Palestine
at the Astor, where I met
countless friends.


Matt's Notes

The parade of Zionist all-stars at the Hotel Astor continues. Papa was there when the influential Rabbi Joseph Silverman announced his long-withheld support of the Zionist cause, and he also was on hand when Chaim Weizmann was the honoree at a Keren Hayesod banquet. David Yellin was a leader of a different sort, a Jerusalem-born educator who was instrumental in the modern revival of Hebrew. According to the Jewish Agency for Israel Web site, "his legacy includes a number of textbooks on Hebrew grammar and language, as well as translations from Arabic and from European languages, including translating Dickens into Hebrew."

Lots of native Hebrew speakers who visit this site say Papa's Hebrew and English penmanship are equally impressive, and while I know Papa would have learned to write Hebrew as part of his traditional religious education (and in his childhood home life, too, since his father was a Talmud Torah teacher) I wonder if he owned or admired any of Yellin's books. Perhaps Papa felt about Yellin like my wife, herself an educator, feels about someone like Jaime Escalante. Then again, Papa's need to say that Yellin was "from Palestine" might mean he wasn't such a well-known figure in the U.S., even if he was, in 1924, a visiting faculty member at the Jewish Institute of Religion on Sixty-eighth Street and Central Park West.

Papa doesn't say whether the reception meeting he went to was associated with B'nai Zion, the fraternal order to which he belonged, but the modern incarnation of B'nai Zion has a strong relationship with the David Yellin College of Education in Jerusalem. This may just be incidental, of course, though Stephen Wise, then the acting president of the Jewish Institute of Religion, was also involved in B'nai Zion's parent organization, The Zionist Organization of America. Papa was active in both B'nai Zion and the Z.O.A., so maybe that's why he saw "countless friends" and, judging by the tone of this entry, enjoyed himself so much at the Astor that night.

hotel astor


References for this post:

  • David Yellin biography at the Jewish Agency for Israel Web site
  • LEGISLATORS ENTER ON THEIR LAST LAP; Assembly Rules Committee Takes Charge of Pending Measures Tonight. (The New York Times, March 31 1924; this archived record also contains a small piece on David Yellin and the Jewish Institute of Religion)

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