Brill, Jehiel

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BRILL, JEHIEL (1836–1886), pioneer of the Hebrew press in Palestine. Brill left his native Russia in the late 1850s, and after much wandering went to Ereẓ Israel. He married the daughter of Jacob *Saphir, and settled in Jerusalem from where he sent reports to Hebrew newspapers in the Diaspora. Together with Joel Moses Salomon and Michael Cohen he established Jerusalem's second Hebrew printing press, and began publishing the monthly Ha-Levanon (1863), the first Hebrew periodical to appear in Palestine. A year later the publication was suspended and Brill went to Paris. There he revived his paper in 1865, first as a biweekly and later as a weekly. After the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71) he moved to Mainz, where he established a Hebrew printing press and published Ha-Levanon (1872–82) as a Hebrew supplement to Der Israelit, the Orthodox German weekly. Ha-Levanon supported the ḥalukkah and the Jerusalem rabbis. A staunch defender of religious tradition, Brill also pleaded the cause of settlement in Ereẓ Israel along the lines attempted by members of the old yishuv, outside the Jerusalem walls, and in Petaḥ Tikvah. After the Russian pogroms of 1881 and the rise of Ḥibbat Zion, Brill returned to Ereẓ Israel at the head of a small group of Jewish farmers from Belorussia who settled in Mazkeret Batyah (Ekron). However, he became embroiled in an argument concerning the policy of the agricultural school, *Mikveh Israel, and with other settlers and left the country disillusioned. Brill related these experiences in Yesud ha-Ma'alah (1883). In 1884 he settled in London and began publishing the short-lived Yiddish weekly, Ha-Shulamit. Shortly before his death he revivedHa-Levanon in London, but only 11 issues appeared. During his stay in Paris and Mainz, he published several medieval Hebrew manuscripts: Yein Levanon (1866, three manuscripts, including one of Maimonides, on tractate Rosh ha-Shanah); R. Hananel's commentary on tractate Pesaḥim (1868); Sefer Iggerot by R. Meir ha-Levi Abulafia (1871), and Be'er ha-Golah (1877).


G. Kressel, Ha-Levanon ve-ha-Ḥavaẓẓelet (1943); idem, Toledot ha-Ittonut ha-Ivrit (1964), 25–47; lnyl, s.v.

[Getzel Kressel /

Gedalyah Elkoshi]