BEN-ZION DINUR (January 2, 1884-July 8, 1973)
The adopted name of Ben-Zion Dinaburg, he was born in Khorol, Ukraine, the son of R. Tsvi-Yankev. He was a member of the first Knesset and Minister of Education and Culture (1951-1955) in the state of Israel. He received a traditional education, studying in the yeshivas of Kremenchuk, Homel (Gomel), and Telshe (Telz). In 1901 he received rabbinic ordination. From 1904 he was an active Zionist, cofounder of the Jewish self-defense in Russia, and he took part in the revolutionary movement. POver the years 1904-1911, he worked as a teacher in a Talmud Torah and in Yiddish and Hebrew schools. He spent 1912-1914 in Berlin and Berne. He studied at a college for Jewish studies in Berlin and at Berne University. Over the years 1917-1918, he was a teacher at a Jewish high school in Petrograd and a lecturer at various Jewish academic institutions in Russia. In 1921 he moved to the land of Israel. In his first years there, he worked as a teacher and lecturer at the Hebrew University and assumed a great number of community positions. He was as well a delegate from Mapai to the Zionist Congress in Prague in 1932. He founded Kiryat sefer (Library), a periodical “for bibliography” from the Hebrew University Library. From 1947 he was a professor at the Hebrew University. He was chairman of “Mossad Bialik” (Bialik Foundation) and Yad Vashem (Holocaust memorial), the state institution for research on the history of the Holocaust. Professor Dinur was one of the most important researchers into Jewish history, and he published a great numbers of works in Hebrew in this field, as well as numerous treatises in periodicals and anthologies. On the thirtieth anniversary of Dinur’s engagement with scholarly work, and the twenty-fifth year of his pedagogical activities in the Hebrew Teachers’ Training College in Jerusalem, the collection Sefer dinaburg kovets divre iyun umeḥkar (Volume for Dinaburg, collection of reflections and studies) was published (Jerusalem, 1949), 448 pp., in which are included some 250 bibliographical items. In 1954 for his seventieth birthday, there appeared in print: Devarim al prof. b”ts dinur (Writings for Prof. Ben-Zion Dinur) (Jerusalem, 33 pp.). He wrote in Yiddish for the Zionist press of Russia in earlier times. Among his published works: Program far idisher geshikhte (Program for Jewish history), with a unified method of explanation and literary instruction for schools, teachers, and self-study (Petrograd-Kiev, 1918), 54 pp.; Idishe geshikhte, historishe khrestomatye (Jewish history, a historical reader), sources and documents, compiled in chronological and systematic order, from the beginning of the people Israel until present times, study-guide for teachers, students, and self-education (part 1 until the end of Persian rule in Judea (Kiev, 1919), 256 pp.; Afn shvel fun mitlalter, der untergang funem idishn tsentr in erets-yisroel un der anhoyb fun di mitl-alterishe gzeyres oyf idn (At the threshold of the Middle Ages, the decline of the Jewish center in the land of Israel and the beginning of the medieval decrees against Jews) (Berlin, 1922), 19 pp. He also published reviews in Yiddish of historical works in Bikher-velt (Book world) 4-5 (August 1919), pp. 78-82; Shul un lebn (School and life) (January 1920), pp. 101-2. His most important works in Hebrew include: Toldot yisrael (History of Israel) (Jerusalem, various editions), also in Yiddish; Erets-yisrael bishenat 683 (The land of Israel in the year 683) (Jerusalem, 1923), 380 pp.; Yisrael bagola (Yisrael in the Diaspora) (Tel Aviv: Devir, 1926-1936), 2 vols.; Ḥibat tsiyon (Lovers of Zion) (Tel Aviv: Ḥevra, 1932-1934), 2 vols.; Rabenu moshe ben maimon (R. Moses Maimonides) (Tel Aviv: Devir, 1935), 108 pp.; Mivsare hatsiyonut mifalse derekh leerets yisrael; Bemifne hadorot (At the changing of the generations) (Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 1955), 383 pp., the first of an eight-volume publication of his collected historical writings. He died in Jerusalem.
Sources: D. Tidhar, in Entsiklopedyah leḥalutse hayishuv uvonav (Encyclopedia of the pioneers and builders of the yishuv), vol. 4 (Tel Aviv, 1950), see index; Dr. Sh. Ayzenshtadt, in Tsukunft (New York) (January 1927); Sh. Rozenfeld, in Tog (New York) (January 6, 1931); P. Viernik, in Morgn zhurnal (New York) (March 1, 1931); Dr. Sh. Feygin, in Tsukunft (June 1932); Dr. A. Ginzburg, in Forverts (New York) (January 24, 1932); Y. Rubin, in Afn visnshaftlekhn front (Minsk) 3-4 (1933); B. Ts. Goldberg, in Tog-morgn zhurnal (New York) (September 13, 1954); Sh. L. Shnayderman, in Tog-morgn zhurnal (September 15, 1954); A. Glants, in Tog-morgn zhurnal (September 15, 1954); Kh. Sh. Kazdan, Fun kheyder un shkoles biz tsisho (From religious and secular primary schools to Tsisho) (Mexico City, 1956), see index; A. Golomb, A halber yorhundert yidishe dertsiung (A half-century of Jewish education) (Rio de Janeiro, 1957), pp. 55, 69; Y. Leshtshinski, in Forverts (January 12, 1958); Who Is Who in Israel (Tel Aviv, 1952).