Gordon, Judah Leib (Leon)

(1831–92)
   Hebrew poet and writer. Gordon was the foremost poet of the Haskalah, the movement to introduce secular European culture into Jewish life. Born in Vilna, he worked as a teacher and headmaster and later as editor of the Hebrew periodical ha-Melitz. He had been a youthful prodigy in biblical and talmudic studies, but came under Haskalah influence and by the age of seventeen was reading literary works in a number of European languages. Gordon was thus at home in both cultures and drew on Jewish and European sources for his poems and writings. Among his notable translations were the Pentateuch into Russian and Byron into Hebrew. BIALIK, TCHERNICHOWSKY and AHAD HA-AM were among the later writers who acknowledged their debt to Gordon as an early master of modern Hebrew. Gordon was at first an apostle of the liberal ideas then current in Russia, and believed that they would lead to complete Jewish emancipation. In biting, polemical articles he attacked the rabbis for trying to preserve the narrow walls of the ghetto, and to insulate the Jews from modern life. On the other hand he rejected the assimilation to which parts of the Haskalah movement tended. His saying was, ‘Live as a Jew at home and a man in the street.’ The repressive anti-Jewish measures in Russia from 1882 destroyed his hopes in liberalism, and he advocated emigration for the Russian Jews. At this stage he moved closer to the Chovevei Zion (‘Lovers of Zion’) movement though he remained sceptical about the possibilities of large-scale Jewish settlement in Palestine under Ottoman rule.

Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament. . 2012.

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  • Gordon, Judah Leib — ▪ Russian writer also called  Leon Gordon,  byname  Yalag  born Dec. 7, 1830, Vilnius, Lithuania died Sept. 16, 1892, St. Petersburg, Russia       Jewish poet, essayist, and novelist, the leading poet of the Hebrew Enlightenment ( Haskala), whose …   Universalium

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