- HA-MELIẒ (Heb. הַמֵּלִיץ, "The Advocate"), the first Hebrew paper in Russia. Ha-Meliẓ was founded in Odessa in 1860 by Alexander zederbaum with the assistance of his son-in-law, A.J. Goldenblum. Zederbaum obtained the license to publish the paper through his connections with the czarist authorities. Ha-Meliẓ was long the organ of the moderate Haskalah movement in Russia, although at times it served the extreme wing of the Haskalah, publishing the writings of M.L. Lilienblum and J.L. Gordon , advocates of religious reform. In the literary sphere, Ha-Meliẓ was involved in a bitter controversy concerning A.U. Kovner and his destructive criticism of Hebrew literature (Kovner also sharply criticized Ha-Meliẓ in his Ẓeror Peraḥim, 1868). Appearing in Russia, where censorship was severe, Ha-Meliẓ defended the czarist regime, but also criticized it surreptitiously. Zederbaum introduced into Ha-Meliẓ the Hebrew journalistic article with all its virtues and defects and attracted contributors from among the best authors in Russia, such as mendele Mokher Seforim. After 10 years in Odessa, Ha-Meliẓ was transferred to St. Petersburg (1871) where it appeared until it ceased publication in 1904. As Ha-Meliẓ was pro-Russian, it advocated Haskalah, Jewish agricultural settlement in Russia, occupation in trades, and improving education while fostering traditional and religious values. Accordingly, it held a reserved attitude toward nationalist and Zionist ideals which were gaining impetus in the early 1880s. Only as Zionism grew stronger, and under the influence of A.S. Friedberg , one of the paper's editorial assistants, did Ha-Meliẓ become the organ of the Ḥibbat Zion movement in Russia. In response to the growing interest in Zionism in the 1880s, Ha-Meliẓ, which had been a weekly, became a semi-weekly in 1883 and a daily from 1886, until it ceased publication. For different reasons the paper did not appear for periods of various lengths, from a few months in 1871–72 and in 1879, to a few years, from 1874 to 1877. Ha-Meliẓ flourished in the 1880s and 1890s, particularly under the editorship of the poet Judah Leib gordon (1880–83, 1885–88). Promoting Hebrew literature in Russia during the second half of the 19th century, Ha-Meliẓ published the earliest writings of Aḥad Ha-Am, Bialik, and scores of other Hebrew authors and scholars in Russia and abroad. Ha-Meliẓ also published controversy which, descending to the personal level, bore negative consequences. When Ha-Meliẓ became the organ of the Ḥibbat Zion movement in Russia it published the best nationalist-Zionist journalism. For many years Ha-Meliẓ published various literary collections, introducing writers of all political and religious factions. On Zederbaum's death in 1893, the paper ceased to appear for a few months until it was taken over by Yehudah Leib rabinovich , who served as its last editor. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: S.L. Zitron, in: Ha-Olam, 7 (1913), passim; 8 (1914), passim; S. Bernstein, Be-Ḥazon ha-Dorot (1928), 74–102; R. Malachi, in: Hadoar, 40 (1961), no. 13–27, passim; Kressel, Leksikon, 2 (1967), 703f. (Getzel Kressel)
Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.