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140 years to Ber Borokhov

Updated: Apr 7, 2022

July 3rd marks the 140th anniversary of the birth of Ber Borokhov, an outstanding political and public figure, founder and theoretician of the ideas of proletarian Zionism, founder of the Poalei Zion party, researcher of the Yiddish language and literature.

Borokhov lived only 36 years, but his activity, in terms of its richness, could well fill several long lives.

He was born in Zolotonosha in 1881, grew up in Poltava, later lived in Yekaterinoslav, emigrated to America, but returned to Russia two years later, and died suddenly in Kiev in 1917.

He was a member of the RSDRP - Russian Bolshevik party, led a discussion with Lenin, was expelled from the party for openly national orientation. He was arrested several times, hiding in neutral countries.

Borokhov was a delegate to the Zionist congresses, brought together the ideas of Zionism and the proletarian revolution, and thus created a movement called Borokhovism, which later grew into the political party Poalei Zion. He saw in Eretz Israel a fertile virgin soil for the embodiment of the ideas of class equality, liberation and prosperity of the oppressed, both nationally and socially, the Jewish proletariat.

At the same time, he was an ardent supporter of the Yiddish language and saw in it and the culture created on it as the most powerful weapon of the Jewish proletariat in the struggle for its national and social rights.

Borokhov not only fought for Yiddish, but was also one of its first scientific researchers. He managed to write significant theoretical works on Jewish philology and literary criticism. He wrote: “Of all sciences, philology plays the most important role in the national revival of oppressed peoples ... The first task of any awakening people is to become a ruler over their own language in order to use it more widely, better and more productively in national creativity ... National culture consists not only of poetic works of great poets, but also, above all, from the ability to speak and write correctly in the

ir native language. " He emphasized that his scientific interest in Yiddish increased as a result of his political activities: "I came to Yiddish through my 'Poalei-Zionism'. To work with the masses, you need to know their language." He delved into the details of the development of the language, passionately supported the idea of reforming Yiddish spelling, its standardization, focused the problems of Yiddish dialectology, formed a "library of the Jewish philologist" and clearly outlined the importance of the native language in the self-consciousness of Jewish workers.

In 1963, the grave of Ber Borokhov was moved from Kiev to Israel. His ashes have been reburied at the Kibbutz Movement Cemetery on the shores of Lake Kinneret, and the original monument with Yiddish inscriptions has been moved to the Kibbutz Movement Education Campus in Ramat Efal.

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