Open main menu

Naftali Herz Tur-Sinai

Naftali Herz Tur-Sinai (Hebrew: נפתלי הרץ טור-סיני‎; born 13 November 1886 – 17 October 1973) was a Bible scholar, author, and linguist instrumental in the revival of the Hebrew language as a modern, spoken language. Tur-Sinai was the first president of the Academy of the Hebrew Language[1] and founder of its Historical Dictionary Project.[2]


Naftali Herz Tur-Sinai was born Harry Torczyner in Lemberg, Galicia, Austria-Hungary (later Lwów, Poland, now Lviv, Ukraine) in 1886. He moved to Vienna, Austria, and then to Berlin, Germany in 1919 to be a lecturer at the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums (College for Jewish Studies) in Berlin. He was in Palestine from 1910–1912 and participated in founding Gymnasia Rehavia in Jerusalem and Gymnasia Herzliya in Tel Aviv. He settled in Palestine in 1933. He was professor of Semitic languages at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

He and Eliezer Ben-Yehuda are considered Israel’s two foremost philologists. Tur-Sinai's nephew, Jacques Torczyner, is a former president of the Zionist Organization of America.


  • In 1940, Tur-Sinai was awarded the Bialik Prize for Jewish thought.[3]
  • In 1956, he was awarded the Israel Prize, for Jewish studies.[4]
  • In 1967, he received the Yakir Yerushalayim (Worthy Citizen of Jerusalem) award, the year of the award's inauguration.[5]

Published worksEdit

Of his many books, those translated into English include The Revival of the Hebrew Language and The Book of Job: A New Commentary. He published a translation of the Tanakh from Hebrew into German. Of the Hebrew dictionary project begun by Eliezer Ben-Yehuda (מילון הלשון העברית הישנה והחדשה; English: Dictionary of the Ancient and Modern Hebrew Language), volumes 10-16 as well as the prolegomenon volume (המבוא הגדול) "were edited, updated, and completed" by Tur-Sinai, with the assistance of Dov Jarden, Meir Medan, and others.[6] The sixteenth and final volume was released in 1958, 50 years after Ben Yehuda's first volume was published.[6]


  1. ^ Wigoder, G., ed., New Encyclopedia of Zionism and Israel II at p. 1292(1994)
  2. ^ The Academy of the Hebrew Language, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-11-03. Retrieved 2007-11-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "List of Bialik Prize recipients 1933-2004 (in Hebrew), Tel Aviv Municipality website" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-12-17.
  4. ^ "Israel Prize Official Site - Recipients in 1955 (in Hebrew)".
  5. ^ "Recipients of Yakir Yerushalayim award (in Hebrew)". Archived from the original on 2011-06-17. City of Jerusalem official web site
  6. ^ a b Brisman, Shimeon. A history and guide to Judaic dictionaries and concordances, Volume 3, Part 1, p. 84.

See alsoEdit