Levontin, Jehiel Joseph

views updated


LEVONTIN, JEHIEL JOSEPH (1861–1936), Hebrew writer. Born in Orsha, Belorussia, he graduated from the University of Moscow as an engineer, and worked on railroad construction in Persia and Russia. He was among the early Ḥovevei Zion and a founder of the Benei Zion association in Moscow (1884). His letters about the life of Jews in Persia appeared in Ha-Meliẓ (1891) signed Ḥushai ha-Arki, which became his permanent pen name. He contributed stories about Jewish life outside the Russian Pale of Settlement, such as "Ha-Kabbelan" and "Ha-Anus," to Ha-Meliẓ and other literary publications, and wrote a novelette about the early days of Ḥibbat Zion in St. Petersburg, "Yemei ha-Ma'aseh" (Ha-Shilo'aḥ, vols. 2, 3). His other novels, Shimon Eẓyoni (1899), Mi-Bein ha-Arafel (1914), and Ha-Shevu'ah (1931), are concerned with the dispute between assimilationists and Zionists in pre-revolutionary Russia. He published one of the earliest modern Hebrew books about agriculture (Ha-Ikkarut, 1915). During World War i, he lived in Moscow and served on the executive of the Russian Zionist movement. He was arrested together with the other participants in the illegal Zionist convention which took place in Moscow in 1920. In 1922 he migrated to Palestine. Two volumes of his stories and articles were published posthumously: Min ha-Meẓar (1938) and Bein Tikvah ve-Ye'ush (1938).


Lachower, Sifrut, 3 pt. 2 (1963), 37f.; J.L.G. Kahanovitz, Me-Homel ad Tel Aviv (1952), 66–68.

[Yehuda Slutsky]