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Yiddish Literature

Shira Gorshman

A multi-faceted Yiddish writer, Shira Gorshman (who also wrote under the names Shirke Goman, Shire Gorman and Szyrke Gorszman) embodied the vision and struggles of Jewish socialism throughout her long and productive life. She was a passionate and tireless participant in the major social movements of the twentieth century and bore witness in her memoirs and fiction to all their configurations and manifestations.

Glueckel of Hameln

Glückel, author of an untitled memoir in Yiddish that is the source of most of the information about her life (with the exception of the date of her death and several minor details), was born in Hamburg to an affluent family of merchants with commercial and familial ties to the court Jews and their surrounding circles.

Sarah Feiga Meinkin Foner

Sarah Feiga Meinkin Foner wrote about the issues that concerned her most in the language she loved most, Hebrew.

Dvoyre Fogel

“The law of boredom is merciless,” wrote Dvoyre Fogel, a Yiddish writer of poetry, prose and literary and art criticism, in the manifesto that opens her first book of poetry. Fogel’s remarkable experimental poetry, all written in the 1930s, was, in the spirit of early twentieth-century art, radically avant-garde and attuned to all the modernist minimalisms.

Rokhl Faygnberg (Imri)

In his portrait of her in Mayn leksikon, volume 1, author and critic Melech Ravitch (Meylekh Ravitsh, 1893–1976) says of Yiddish-Hebrew writer Rokhl Faygnberg that her biography was “the biography of an era.” Although she witnessed many of the defining events of modern Jewish history—wars, pogroms, and the birth of the State of Israel—in her life, which took her from her White Russian [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:404]shtetl[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] to several cosmopolitan European centers and ultimately to Israel, she herself is hardly typical. As Ravitch himself states, she was one of few women to establish herself as a professional Jewish writer and journalist, first in Yiddish and then in Hebrew, and in so doing was often outspoken, polemical and controversial. Highly versatile, she chronicled the 1919 pogroms in Ukraine and their aftermath, investigated in both fiction and journalism the changing relationships between men and women wrought by the breakup of traditional Jewish life, and sought to create a viable Jewish literature for the immigrant generation in Israel.

Rachel Ertel

Born on July 13, 1939 in Slonim, a city in Poland (between the two world wars), Rachel Ertel is unquestionably the most distinguished scholar of Yiddish culture in France. Yiddish culture filled her with pride from a very early age, and she has brilliantly strived since then to revive and keep it alive. She is the daughter of Riwa Mirski (1916–2001), a former student at the teacher-training school of Vilna, and the daughter of Moishe Waldman (1910–1996), a Yiddish poet. Riwa Mirski is better known as an author of novels and short stories under the pen name of Menuha Ram, an acronym of Rachel (her older daughter), Aron (her step-son, b. 1938) and Myriam (her younger daughter, b. 1949). Her best-known works are Vayter fun trakt (Further than thought), Le Vent qui passe (The passing wind, 1974) and Exils (Exiles, 1993).

Celia Dropkin

The explicitly sexual imagery and themes of Celia Dropkin’s poems redefined the ways modern Yiddish poetry could depict relationships between women and men. Beautifully crafted lyrics, Dropkin’s poems undo the poetic conventions implicit in their very forms and, with their anger and passion, call into question societal assumptions about love. These poems open up a woman’s psyche in a voice that sounds contemporary in the 1990s. Even her poems about depression, about mother love, and about nature are infused with erotic energy. Best known for her poetry, Dropkin also published short stories and was an accomplished visual artist.

Canada: From Outlaw to Supreme Court Justice, 1738-2005

The positive aspect of the Canadian mosaic has been a strong Jewish community (and other communities) which nurtured traditional ethnic and religious values and benefited from the talent and energy of women and men restrained from participation in the broader society. The negative aspect has included considerable antisemitism and, especially for women, the sometimes stifling narrowness and conservatism of the community which inhibited creative and exceptional people from charting their own individual paths.

Rokhel Brokhes

Rokhel Brokhes was one of the earliest women writers to be published and a prodigious author whose name was linked to the romantic years of modern Yiddish literature.

Brazil, Contemporary

The Brazilian Jewish community is the second largest Jewish community in South America and one of the ten largest in the world.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Yiddish Literature." (Viewed on September 22, 2014) <http://jwa.org/tags/yiddish-literature>.

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