What better inclusion into the QB Name Change series than a language revivalist?
Eliezer Lieb Perlman
He was born to a Rabbi in a village called Luzki in what is today Lithuania, but at that time was part of Russia. Upon being given a Hebrew grammar book by a Rabbi, Eliezer would dedicate his entire life to restoring the Hebrew language to the Jewish nation in Israel. However, before and after he arrived in Israel which was under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, he would face fierce opposition from the ultraorthodox community for wanting to use Hebrew outside of the religious contexts.
He was given the name Eliezer which means “God will help me,” which has frequently been said throughout the biography “Fulfillment of Prophecy.” It has a symbolism which Eliezer himself upheld to the highest degree, which is that he would help the Jewish nation reclaim the Hebrew language, which had not been spoken for two thousand years.
At the time that Israel existed, it had become a part of the Ottoman Empire and was governed by Turkish authorities who ultimately decided whether Jews in large numbers can immigrate to that area, which were very few times. Everyone in Eliezer’s life tried to dissuade him from moving there, since they saw it as a land without opportunity, while Eliezer himself and his wife saw it as a land of possibility.
Upon becoming a Turkish citizen, Eliezer changed his surname to Ben-Yehuda, which in Hebrew means “son of Yehuda.” However, he was told that it has another meaning, in that Yehuda also refers to the land of Judah, which would therefore also mean “son of the land of Judah.” It has patronymic meaning, but also a symbolic meaning, since he professed to be the descendant of the Israeli land and has returned to it.
During World War I, it was agreed according to the Balfour Declaration that Israel would become its own autonomous region in the declining Ottoman Empire, however it would still be overlooked when there were constant Palestinian violence, which eventually resulted in the conflict that is still felt to this day. Though, Ben-Yehuda contributed to the linguistic preservation of Hebrew since by the end of his life, more and more Israelis started to accept Hebrew.
By taking this name, he asserted himself as the personification of Modern Israel itself, as wanting to reclaim the ancestral tongue of the Jewish nation in order to bring together the entire Jewish diaspora. His life of conflict paid off, since Hebrew has become a widely spoken language.
Image Attribution: Hector “Shin_Doujin.” “Eliezer Ben-Yehuda.” Fiverr.
Ben-Yehuda, Eliezer. “Fulfillment Of Prophecy: The Life Story Of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda (1858-1922).” Book-Surge. 2008.