Jewish Women on the Map - Mishkan Israel Cemetery, New Haven, CT - Minna Cohen Kleeberg
Minna Cohen Kleeberg was born in Elmshorn, Holstein, German in 1841. She was well-educated in German, French, and English literature, and became well-known in Germany as a poet. Many of her works took up the cause of liberty and democracy, and the emancipation of women. As a child she bemoaned the fact that she was not able to have a bar mitzvah or go to a school for higher Jewish education.
In 1866 the family emigrated to America when her husband, Rabbi Levi Kleeberg, accepted a position at a congregation in Louisville, Kentucky, and later in New Haven, Connecticut. She wrote mostly in German and her poems were published in many literary journals in both Germany and America. In 1877 a collection of her poems, Gedichte, was published in Louisville. When Isaac Mayer Wise published his hymnal in 1868 he included some of Kleeberg’s hymns, the only woman whose poems he included.
She died in New Haven on December 31, 1878, at the young age of 37. After her death, the Jewish community, with funds collected from around the country, erected a monument over her grave with a statue of Minerva, the goddess of poetry and wisdom. Affixed to the monument is a bronze plaque which declares: “A poet’s soul never passes away, it is continually resurrected in the souls that understand it.”
Biography of Minna Kleeberg by Judith A. Schiff:
Kleeberg’s collected poems, Gedichte:
Photo by Werner S. Hirsch