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M.Y. Berdichevsky

Micha Josef Berdyczewski (1865 – 1921), was a Ukrainian-born writer of Hebrew, a journalist, and a scholar. He appealed for the Jews to change their way of thinking, freeing themselves from dogmas ruling the Jewish religion, tradition and history, but is also known for his work with pre-modern Jewish myths andlegends. He wrote in Hebrew, Yiddish and German and has been described as "the first Hebrew writer living in Berlin to be revered in the world of German letters".
One of his earliest publications was about this period of his life—an article titled "Hetzitz V'nifga" (literally "peeked and got hurt", meaning "gone to heresy"), published in 1888 in the newspaper Hamelitz. Most of his works from this period were polemic, and his emotional style became his trademark throughout his writing career.
In 1890 he went to Germany and Switzerland, studied at the universities of Berlin, Breslau and Bern, and completed his Doctor of Philosophy degree. In the ten years until his return to Ukraine he published many articles and stories in Hebrew journals. Up to 1900, the year in which he married Rachel Ramberg, Berdyczewski had published ten books.

After a short stay in Warsaw, Berdyczewski returned to Germany in 1911, where he lived until his death in 1921. Berdyczewski adopted the surname Bin-Gorion, first used to sign a collection of his works that he published in Berlin in 1914.The name Bin-Gorion is also inscribed on his tombstone. His last years were spent in intensive writing and research, collecting Jewish legends and folktales and publishing in Hebrew, Yiddish, and German. After his death, his wife and their son translated some of his works into German.

Berdyczewski's popularity among the Jews of his age is attributed to his success in expressing their ambivalent attitude towards the traditional Jewish world, and to the secular European culture. The Israeli moshav Sdot Micha, founded in 1955, was named after Micha Josef Berdyczewski.

M.Y. Berdichevsky

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