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BIKKURE HA-'ITTIM ("First-Fruits of the Times"):

An annual edited and published in Vienna, 1820-31, by S. J. Cohen. It first appeared as a supplement to the Hebrew calendar , and was intended for young people only. In 1822 it ceased to be a mere supplement, and became an independent magazine. It was adopted by the Galician Maskilim as their organ for the purpose of fostering culture and education among the Galician Jews. According to Delitzsch, the "Bikkure ha-'Ittim" became the organ of the New-German school of poetry in Austria, the influence of Schiller being as apparent in this magazine as was that of Lessing in the "Meassef" (see Ha-Meassef).

The influence of the "Bikkure ha-'Ittim" on the European Jews of the first half of the nineteenth century was inestimable. The magazine became a kind of college of Jewish learning for the Israelites of those days. Its success was largely due to the energy and indefatigable labor of its editor, who was a man of considerable literary ability and an ardent lover of Jewish literature. The first numbers, with their curious mixture of Hebrew and German articles (the latter being in Hebrew characters), and with their many reprints of articles from the "Meassef"—which had ceased to exist—proved to be rather inferior literary fare. Gradually, however, the magazine improved both in style and in matter, and finally became the literary resort of the greatest Hebrew scholars of the age, men like S. D. Luzzatto, S. L. Rapoport, and I. S. Reggio contributing to it for many years. The "Bikkure ha-'Ittim," in fact, stimulated the powers of many promising young Hebrew writers. Thus the great Hebrew stylist, Isaac Erter, published therein some of those papers which are now so greatly admired for their elegant composition and stinging wit (see Erter, Isaac).

As the name of the magazine signifies, it was one of the forerunners of modern Hebrew journalism; and it was undoubtedly one of the factors in the revival of modern Hebrew.

Bibliography:
  • Delitzsch, Zur Gesch. der Jüdischen Poesie, pp. 101, 102;
  • Winter and Wünsche, Jüd. Literatur, iii. 862;
  • Weissberg, in , pp. 39-44.
G. M. Ra.
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