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Yom, Ha-

Russia’s (and the world’s) first Hebrew daily. In 1886, Ha-Yom was founded, published, and edited by the veteran journalist and author Yehudah Leib Kantor, who felt a daily newspaper was necessary and possible in addition to the weeklies Ha-Melits (then published in Saint Petersburg) and Ha-Tsefirah (published in Warsaw). Ha-Yom was published in Saint Petersburg beginning on 31 January (12 February, according to the Gregorian calendar) 1886.

Throughout its existence of a little more than two years, Ha-Yom issued four large-sized pages each day, with world news and analysis, correspondence from Jews in Russia and abroad, information about activities in the capital, exchange rates and other factors relevant to merchants, and feuilletons and occasional contributions by major Hebrew writers such as Mendele Moykher-Sforim. Kantor’s chief collaborators were David Frishman for feuilletons and Yehudah Leib-Binyamin Katzenelson (pseudonym, Buki ben Yogli) for science. Its tone was influenced by Kantor’s disdain for the rhetorical style that was current in Hebrew journalism. His wish to reshape the language, combined with the time pressures of publishing a daily, made for a succinct style, an innovation that helped Hebrew develop as a living language.

Initially, Ha-Yom had an audience large enough to sustain its budget—one report speaks of 15,000 readers—but by mid-1886 both Ha-Melits and Ha-Tsefirah had become dailies in order to compete. The Hebrew-reading public of the tsarist empire was not able to support three Hebrew dailies. In 1887, Kantor tried to attract additional readers with a literary monthly (Ben ‘ami) distributed free to subscribers, but he lacked the means to publish more than a few issues. That same year, he was the subject of attacks by some adherents of the Ḥibat Tsiyon movement for supposedly being cool to resettlement in Palestine, although others said the dispute was commercially and not ideologically motivated.

Toward the end of 1887 Ben ‘ami ceased publication, and Kantor was on the defensive. A third year was begun, but Ha-Yom ended with the issue of 29 February (12 March) 1888.

Suggested Reading

Joel S. Geffen, “America in the First European Hebrew Daily Newspaper: Ha-Yom, 1886–1888,” American Jewish Historical Quarterly 51.3 (1962): 149–167; Menuḥah Gilbo‘a, “Ha-Yom, 1886–1888,” in Leksikon ha-‘itonut ha-‘ivrit ba-me’ot ha-shemoneh ‘esreh veha-tesha‘-‘esreh, cols. 320–324 (Jerusalem, 1992); Benzion Katz (Ben-Tsiyon Kats), “Shiv‘im shanah le-tset ha-‘iton ha-‘ivri ha-rishon,” He-‘Avar 4 (1956): 133–135; Getzel Kressel, “Ha-Yom,” Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 7, cols. 1499–1500 (Jerusalem, 1971).