Prof. Yehoshua Blau passed away today at the age of 101. He was the recipient of the Israel Prize, a linguist, president of the Hebrew Language Academy, and Professor Emeritus in the Department of Arabic Language and Literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
A month and a few days ago, he and his family celebrated his 101st birthday.
He was born in Klij in Transylvania to a religious family and attended a Jewish school. After receiving his matriculation certificate, he moved with his family to Vienna, Austria, and began studying rabbinics at the local rabbinical seminary.
On the eve of World War II, after Adolf Hitler invaded Austria, the family managed to escape and eventually arrived in Israel.
He studied at the Hebrew University and completed his degree. He married Shulamit in 1945 and they had 2 children, a son and a daughter.
He wrote his doctoral dissertation on the subject: "Medieval Arabic-Jewish grammar mainly based on non-literary texts" under the guidance of David Zvi Bennett.
For over 30 years he taught in the Department of Arabic Language and Literature at the Hebrew University. In 1966 he was appointed full professor.
Blau also served as a visiting professor at Bar-Ilan University, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of New York, the University of Cape Town, Yeshiva University, the Itwash University of Budapest, the University of Lucerne, and Harvard University.
He has been awarded many prizes, including the Israel Prize in 1955, the Rothschild Prize in 1992, the Wilhelm Bachar Medal of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1999, and the Yakir Jerusalem Prize awarded to him in 2003.