Cedars of Lebanon: Grandfather Sails to Odessa
Saul Tschernichowsky was born in 1875 in the village of Michailovka, in the Russian Crimea, a birthplace that set him apart from most Hebrew writers of his generation, who grew up in the towns and larger cities of the Pale, in an atmosphere saturated with urbanism and pious orthodoxy. His family had lived in the village for three generations, and Tschernichowsky was on friendly and intimate terms with his Gentile playmates, the children of peasants. It was here that he became imbued with a love of nature that was to bring a new note into Hebrew poetry, a note reflective of “golden fields, clear skies, and days of childhood full of charm and bright colors.”
At the age of seven, he received his first instruction in Hebrew from a traveling teacher. His Jewish education was not extensive or profound, but it implanted in him a love of the Hebrew language that was to last his lifetime, and it made of him a militant Zionist. In 1899, he went to Heidelberg, where he studied medicine. As a doctor, he returned to Russia and remained there until 1922. After traveling extensively in Germany, Palestine, and the United States, he settled in Tel-Aviv in 1931, and died there in 1943.
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