Zev Vilnay was born as Volf Vilensky in Kishinev, Russian Empire (now in Moldova). He immigrated to Palestine with his parents at the age of six and grew up in Haifa. He served as a military topographer in the Haganah, and later in the Israel Defense Forces.
Vilnay and his wife Esther lived in Jerusalem. Their eldest son, Oren Vilnay, is an expert in structural engineering who established the Department of Civil Engineering at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. The other son, Matan Vilnai, is a politician who served as a member of the Knesset and held several ministerial portfolios before becoming ambassador to China.
Land of Israel studies
Vilnay was a pioneer in the sphere of outdoor hiking and touring in Israel. Vilnay lectured widely on Israeli geography, ethnography, history and folklore. His Guide to Israel was published in 27 editions and translated into many languages.
In the 1974 edition of his guide, Vilnay describes how he helped bring back to Israel the boat of a British naval officer, Thomas Howard Molyneux, who sailed the Jordan River from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea to map the region in the 19th century.
Awards and recognition
- In 1974, Vilnay received the Yakir Yerushalayim (Worthy Citizen of Jerusalem) award.
- In 1981, he was the co-recipient (jointly with Avraham Even-Shoshan) of the Bialik Prize for Jewish thought.
- In 1982, he was awarded the Israel Prize, for knowledge and love of the Land of Israel.
Published works in English
- Legends of Palestine (1932)
- The Guide to Israel (first published in 1955)
- The Holy Land in Old Prints and Maps (1965)
- The New Israel Atlas: Bible to Present Day (1968)
- The Changing Face of Acco
- Legends of Jerusalem (3 volumes)
- Legends of Galilee, Jordan & Sinai (1978)
- Legends of Judea and Samaria
- The Vilnay Guide to Israel: A new Millennium Edition (2 volumes) (1999), written and edited after his death and according to his instructions by Oren and Rachel Vilnay
Published works in Hebrew
- Entziklopediya Liyidiat Haaretz (3 volumes) (1956)
- Yerushalayim (2 volumes) (1960–62, 1970)
- Eretz Yisrael Betmunot Atikot (1961)
- Matzevot Kodesh Be'eretz Yisrael (1963)
- Tel Aviv-Jaffa (1965)
- Yehudah Veshomron (1968)
- Sinai, Avar Vehoveh (1969)
- Golan Vehermon (1970)
- Ariel – Entziklopediya Lidiyat HaAretz (10 volumes) (1976–82)
- Encyclopaedia Judaica, "Zev Vilnay," Keter Publishing, Jerusalem, 1972, vol. 16, p. 151
- The Vilnay Guide to Israel 2 vols Archived July 4, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- "Zev Vilnay, Geographer, 87". The New York Times. 1988-01-23.
- Eli Ashkenazi, 19th-century British explorer's boat returns to Dead Sea, Haaretz, 4 Nov 2007, accessed 22 July 2019
- In Arabic and in Hebrew, a name is more than just a name, Haaretz
- "Recipients of Yakir Yerushalayim award (in Hebrew)". City of Jerusalem official website
- "List of Bialik Prize recipients 1933-2004 (in Hebrew), Tel Aviv Municipality website" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on December 17, 2007.
- "Israel Prize Official Site - Recipients in 1982 (in Hebrew)".
- Legends of Galilee, Jordan & Sinai