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Ze'ev Jawitz

JAWITZ, ZE'EV (1847–1924), writer and historian. Jawitz was born in Kolno to a wealthy family distinguished in lineage, scholarship, and piety. After an unsuccessful attempt at business, he devoted all his time to writing and scholarship. He contributed to Smolenskin's Ha-Shaḥar (in no. 11 (1882), 41–48).

Jawitz won public recognition with his article " Migdal ha-me'ah " ("Tower of the century," in S.P. Rabinowitz (ed.), Keneset Yisrael, 1 (1887); repr. in his Toledot Yisrael, 13 (1937), 189–250), a survey of Jewish history from the death of Mendelssohn in 1786 to the death of Montefiore in 1886. The work's originality lay in the author's command of sources in Hebrew and other languages; in the inner integrity of his approach, which was a mixture of Eastern European Judaism, the romanticism of Ḥibbat Zion, and the Judaism of Frankfurt Orthodoxy (often characterized by the phrase Torah im derekh ereẓ, in the sense of "Torah and secular learning"); and in his writing style, a combination of biblical and scholarly Hebrew.

Settling in Ereẓ Israel in 1888, Jawitz taught in Zikhron Ya'akov. His writings were widely published in Ereẓ Israel in such periodicals as Haaretz, Peri ha-Areẓ (1892), and Ge'on ha-Areẓ (2 vols., 1893–94). He also wrote several textbooks, including Tal Yaldut (1891), Ha-Moriyyah (1894), Divrei ha-Yamim le-Am Benei-Yisrael (1894), Divrei Yemei ha-Ammim (1893–94), and books in which he attempted to relate legends in biblical style, as in Siḥot minni Kedem (1887, 19272). His popular work Neginot minni Kedem (1892) appeared in several editions. In Ereẓ Israel, Jawitz was active on the Va'ad ha-Lashon, the committee responsible for developing Hebrew as a modern language. He and his brother-in-law, J.M. *Pines, contributed to the development of modern Hebrew by introducing linguistic elements from the literature of the Mishnah, Talmud, and Midrash, e.g., tarbut ("culture") and kevish ("road"). Jawitz left Palestine in 1894, moving to Vilna, to Germany, and later to London. For a short while he was active in the foundation of *Mizrachi in Russia and edited the monthly journal Ha-Mizraḥ (1903–04). Simultaneously, Jawitz continued his major work, Toledot Yisrael … (14 vols., 1895–1940; the first part appeared in Warsaw, and the last five parts were published by B.M. Lewin in Tel Aviv, 1932–40). The first six parts (comprising the first section) deal with the Jews in their land, from the Patriarchal Age to the end of the period of R. Judah ha-Nasi; the next eight parts deal with the Jews among the nations of the world, from the period of the amoraim to Ḥibbat Zion. Although Jawitz was not a modern historian, his contribution to Jewish historiography is distinctive and valuable in that he infused his historical account with commitment to Orthodoxy and love for Ereẓ Israel.


S. Ernst (ed.), Sefer Jawitz… Zikkaron … (1934); A.S. Hirschberg, in: Z. Jawitz, Toledot Yisrael, 14 (1940), 121–63; M.L. Lilienblum, Kitvei …, 3 (1912), 133–84; J. Klausner, Yoẓerim u-Vonim, 2 (1930), 52–61; B. Dinur, Benei Dori (1963), 19–22; M. Eliash, in: S.K. Mirsky (ed.), Ishim u-Demuyyot be-Ḥokhmat Yisrael … (1959), 155–73; Waxman, Literature, 4 (1960), 153–4, 454, 727–35.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.