Ben-Zion Dinur

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Ben-Zion Dinur
File:Ben-Zion Dinur.jpg
Date of birth (1884-01-02)2 January 1884
Place of birth Khorol, Russian Empire
Year of aliyah 1921
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Knessets 1
Faction represented in Knesset
1949–1951 Mapai
Ministerial roles
1951–1955 Minister of Education

Ben-Zion Dinur (Hebrew: בן ציון דינור‎, born Ben-Zion Dinaburg; 2 January 1884 – 8 July 1973) was a Zionist activist, educator, historian and Israeli politician.


Dinaburg was born in 1884 in Khorol in the Russian Empire (now Poltava Oblast, Ukraine). He received his education in a Lithuanian yeshivot. He studied under Shimon Shkop in the Telz Yeshiva, and became interested in the Haskalah through Rosh Yeshiva Eliezer Gordon's polemics. In 1898 he moved to the Slabodka yeshiva and in 1900 he traveled to Vilnius and was certified a Rabbi. He then went to Lyubavichi to witness the Chabad-Lubavitch branch of Hasidic Judaism. Between 1902 and 1911 he was engaged in Zionist activism and teaching, which at some point resulted in a brief arrest. In 1910 he married Bilhah Feingold, a teacher who had worked with him in a girls' trade school in Poltava. In 1911 he left his wife and son for two years to attend the Berlin University, where he studied under Semen Ivanovich Rostovzev and Eugen Täubler. He then spent two more years at the University of Bern, where he began his dissertation under Rostovzev, on the Jews in the Land of Israel under the Roman Empire. The break of World War I forced him to move to the University of Petrograd. However, due to the October Revolution, he did not receive his PhD. He was a lecturer at the University of Odessa from 1920 to 1921.[1]

In 1921 he immigrated to Palestine and from 1923 to 1948 served as a teacher and later as head of the Jewish Teachers' Training College, Jerusalem. In 1936 he was appointed lecturer in modern Jewish history at the Hebrew University and became professor in 1948 and professor emeritus in 1952. As a historian he described Zionism in the diaspora as "a huge river into which flowed all the smaller streams and tributaries of the Jewish struggle down the ages",[2] and tracing its origins to 1700, when history records a first wave of Polish Jews emigrating to Jerusalem.[3] He believed "messianic ferment" played a crucial role in Jewish history,[4] and introduced the idea of mered hagalut ("Revolt of the Diaspora").[5]

He was elected to the first Knesset on the Mapai list and served as Minister of Education and Culture in the third to sixth governments (1951 to 1955), when he was responsible for the 1953 State Education Law, which put an end to the prevailing party "trend" education system. From 1953 to 1959 he was president of Yad Vashem.[6]

He died in 1973.


  • Dinur was twice a recipient of the Israel Prize, which was established at his initiative[5] when he was Minister of Education:
    • in 1958 for Jewish studies;[7] and
    • in 1973 for education.[1][8]
  • He was a recipient of the Yakir Yerushalayim (Worthy Citizen of Jerusalem) award in 1967, the year of the award's inauguration.[9]

Published works

  • Lovers of Zion (1932–1934) (Hebrew)
  • Our Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon: His Life, Writings, Activities and Views (1935) (Hebrew)
  • Simon Dubnow: for his 75th Birthday (1936) (Hebrew)
  • Israel in its Land: From the First Days of Israel until the Babylonian Exile: Sources and Documents (1938) (Hebrew)
  • Path Makers: Prominent Figures in the Sad History of the Return to Zion and the Renewal of Israel (1946) (Hebrew)
  • The Changing of the Generations: Researches and Studies in the History of Israel from Early Modern Times (1955) (Hebrew)
  • In Memory of Ahad Ha'am (1957) (Hebrew)
  • Values and Methods: Problems of Education (1958) (Hebrew)
  • A Vanished World: Memories of a Way of Life” (Biography) (1958) (Hebrew)
  • Remember: Issues of the Holocaust and its Lessons (1958) (Hebrew)
  • Israel in Exile 2nd Edition (expanded) five volumes (1958) (Hebrew)
  • Days of War and Revolution: Memories of a Way of Life (1961) (Hebrew)
  • My Generation: Characteristics and Traits of Scholars and Educators, Public Personalities and Gate Keepers (1964) (Hebrew)
  • Benjamin Zeev Herzl: the Man, his Path and Personality, his Vision and Activities (1968) (Hebrew)
  • Tractate Avot: Commentary and Explanation with Introduction (1972) (Hebrew)
  • The Struggle of the Generations of Israel for its Land: from the Destruction of Betar until the Renewal of Israel (1975) (Hebrew)
  • Generations of the Bible: Research and Studies to Understand the Bible and the History of Israel in that Period (1977) (Hebrew)
  • Generations and Impressions: Researches and Studies in Israeli Historiography, its Problems and its History (1978) (Hebrew)

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Ben-Zion Dinur: Knesset website
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  9. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found. City of Jerusalem official web site

External links