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HA-ẒEFIRAH (Heb. הַצְּפִירָה, "The Dawn"), a Hebrew paper appearing in Warsaw intermittently between 1862 and 1931. Founded as a weekly in 1862 by Ḥayyim Selig *Slonimski, Ha-Ẓefirah was devoted to science and technology, the only Hebrew paper of its kind during the 1860s and 1870s. The space devoted to news and Jewish scholarship was negligible. Slonimski, who had written scientific books in Hebrew from the 1830s, sought a regular forum for tracing the development of the sciences, which were expanding rapidly in those years. S. *Abramovitsh (Mendele Mokher Seforim), writing on science and technology, contributed regularly, but Slonimski was the principal contributor to most issues. The paper ceased publication after six months when the editor was appointed principal of the rabbinical school in Zhitomir. When that institution closed down in 1874, Slonimski revived Ha-Ẓefirah. Unable to obtain a permit in Russia, he published the paper in Berlin in the summer of 1874, with the aid of J.L. *Kantor. Although still mainly devoted to the sciences, Kantor introduced into the paper topical articles, political commentaries, and reports from Russia and other countries. Finally, Slonimski obtained his license and the paper again appeared in Warsaw from September 1875 until it ceased publication.

In Warsaw, too, Slonimski devoted the bulk of the paper to science and the rest to sections then common in the Hebrew press. In 1876, however, when Nahum *Sokolow began writing for the paper, its character changed as he increasingly supplemented scientific writing with topical articles and surveys of current affairs. Originally only a regular contributor, Sokolow became acting editor, then chief editor, and finally the author of almost all articles appearing in the paper. In the early 1880s he gradually reduced the size of the science section and made the paper more like its contemporaries, only more vibrant. Thanks to his introduction of variety into the paper's content, Ha-Ẓefirah enjoyed a wide circulation. Sokolow's name became synonymous with Ha-Ẓefirah and his articles on various subjects attracted many readers both among the maskilim and the Ḥasidim. Following Ha-Yom's lead, Ha-Ẓefirah became a daily in 1886, and began to provide an opportunity for new writers. Because Sokolow was deeply rooted in Polish Jewry, the paper served as the principal organ of Polish Jewry for almost two generations. Ha-Ẓefirah also printed reports from most of the Jewish centers throughout the world, particularly Ereẓ Israel and the United States. Sokolow realized the importance of innovation and novelty in journalism. Accordingly, he periodically changed the paper's format and writing style, to meet changing tastes. The attitude of Sokolow and the paper toward the Ḥibbat Zion movement and political Zionism was at first reserved, but after the First Zionist Congress Ha-Ẓefirah was faithful to Herzl.

Ha-Ẓefirah ceased publication early in 1906 when Sokolow became secretary of the World Zionist Organization. In 1910 the paper was revived with Sokolow as a regular contributor but edited by several of his disciples. During World War i the paper again ceased publication, but was reissued as a weekly in 1917 and as a daily in 1920. It did not appear from 1921 to 1926, when it was revived only to be discontinued again in 1928. Ha-Ẓefirah appeared for the last time in 1931, the year it permanently ceased publication. Among the paper's later editors were Isaac *Nissenbaum, Yiẓḥak *Gruenbaum, Joseph Heftman, and A.A. *Akaviah.


Kressel, Leksikon, 2 (1967), 481–7, 504–7.

[Getzel Kressel]

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