ʻIvri anokhi - עברי אנכי
About this newspaper
This periodical appeared every week alternately under the names ʿIbri Anochi (‘I am a Hebrew’) and Haibri (‘The Hebrew) in order to get around the barriers placed on obtaining a license for printing a weekly journal. The two interchanging names converted it seemingly into a pair of separate Bi-Weekly papers, for which a printing license was easier. Twenty-six yearly volumes appeared. Barukh Werber (1810-1876), the protégé of Galician intelligentsia, edited the first twelve and his only son, Yaʿaqov Werber (1859-1890) edited the final fourteen.
At the start of the first volume, the editor announced that the essence of his aim was to cultivate the use of the Hebrew language as the national language of the Jewish people, and that he intended to present to his readers anything that might interest a Jewish audience, from the history of their people and articles on wisdom and science, to news about current events from near and far. Since, during this period, the centre of activity of the Jewish Haskalah (‘Enlightenment’) movement shifted from Galicia to Russia, for much of its lifetime, this newspaper served as a platform for internal Galician affairs and, therefore, its principal value for future generations is as a faithful mirror of the goings-on of the lives of Jews in Galicia at that time.
Throughout its years of existence, ʿIbri Anochi/Haibri was involved in numerous polemics with other periodicals, such as ha-Mevasser (‘The Herald’, 1860-1870), ha-Melits (‘The Advocate’, 1860-1904), ha-Levanon (‘The Levanon’, 1863-1886), and Maḥziqey ha-Dat (‘The Upholders of religion’, 1879-1913). Most of these disputes revolved around religious issues, on which the newspaper took aggressive positions against the religious orthodoxy and against Ḥasidism and its leaders, and stuck faithfully to the values of the Haskalah. On the opposing side, one could detect the influence of the moderate weekly journal ha-Maggid (‘The Preacher’, 1856-1903), which was close in its outlook to the values of traditional Judaism. With the passage of time, the provincial nature of ʿIvri Anochi/ha-ʿIvri continued to grow; it did not revise its founding Enlightenment attitudes in the face of the fast changes that were taking place in the lives of the Jews and their situation in the 1870's and, especially, in the 1880's.
After 1881, writers from Warsaw and its environs joined the circle of contributors to the newspaper, among them, Eliʿezer Yitsḥaq Shapira and David Frishman. During these years, with the appearance of the Ḥibbat-Tsiyyon movement, the newspaper dealt more frequently with the question of settlement in Erets-Yisraʾel, and usually adopted a particularly fierce critical view of it, in light of the perspective of its editor, through the publication of letters describing negative impressions of life in Palestine. Despite this, it provided space also for the opinions of those who supported Ḥibbat-Tsiyyon, however, these were balanced against, among other things, articles encouraging emigration to the United States. The principal approach of this newspaper was support for the strengthening of the hold of the Jews in the lands of their residence in the Diaspora, by positioning itself alongside the standpoint of the Haskalah movement that sought to connect them with the people among whom they resided.
Among the regular features of the newspaper were the survey ‘Affairs of the state’, literary criticism, biographies of intellectuals, and reports on the lives of Jews in various countries. Among its leading contributors, the following should be noted: Salomon Buber (1827-1906), Micha Josef Berdyczewski (1865-1921), Mordekhai David Brandstätter (1844-1928), Avrom Ber Gotlober (1811-1899), Ayzik Meyer Dik (1814-1893), Saul Israel (ShaY Ish) Hurwitz (1860-1922), Abraham Moses Luncz (1854-1918), Yehoshuʿa Mezaḥ (1834-1917), Fabius Mieses (1824-1898), Dr Salomon Mandelkern (1846-1902), Naḥum Sokolow (1859-1936), Nathan-Neta Samueli, Yitzḥak Kaminer, and Joshua Heschel Schorr (YaHaSH, 1814-1895). Particularly noteworthy is the contribution of a woman, Miss Toivah Segel from Vilna, in a long, militant feminist essay (year 16, issues 69 to 101, 21.11.1879-19.12.1879), which charged the intellectuals (Heb. maskilim) with liability for the offense of the inferior status of the Jewish woman.