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Sarah Hamer-Jacklyn

Sarah Hamer-Jacklyn, a popular and highly acclaimed author, brought a generous embrace and a well-honed theatrical sensibility to her short stories, sketches and portraits. She moved her characters and readers from the pious, rooted intimacy of the [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:404]shtetl[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] to the fragmented, often despairing experience of America.

Bracha Habas

Editor, writer and one of the first few women journalists in [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:309]Erez Israel[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary], Bracha Habas was born in Alytus, a town in the district of Vilna (Lithuania) on January 20, 1900, to a wealthy and cultured family of merchants who were actively involved in communal life. (The family name is the acronym of Hakham Binyamin Sefardi or Hakham Beit Sefer [School].) Her grandfather, Rabbi Simha Zissel, the scion of a rabbinic family in Vilna (that of the Yesod, Yehudah ben Eliezer; Yesod is an acronym for Yehudah safra ve-[jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:307]dayyan[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary], “Yehudah scribe and judge,” d. 1762), was the first member of the family to turn to trade, opening a large general store that became a center of life in the township. On the other hand, her father, Rabbi Israel, successfully combined business with study: ordained in the yeshivas of Volozhin and Slobodka, he turned to business as a leather merchant only after marriage; nevertheless he continued to teach and to lecture on [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:424]Torah[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary]-related subjects and, on joining the [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:330]Hibbat Zion[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] (Lovers of Zion) movement, was extremely active in converting people to the Zionist ideal and the study of Hebrew. He established a branch of Safah Berurah (“Plain Language,” a society founded in Jerusalem in 1889) in his hometown, was among the founders of the [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:363]Mizrahi[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] movement in 1902 and, once in Erez Israel, edited a non-partisan religious Zionist journal, Ha-Yesod (1931). Habas’s mother, Nehama Devorah, daughter of Rabbi Nahman Schlesinger (a descendant of Rabbi Eliyahu, the Vilna [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:311]Gaon[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary], 1720–1797), was also highly educated. Her father taught her Bible and she was fluent in both spoken and written Hebrew (an exceptional phenomenon among women born in the 1870s).

Sophie Von Grotthuss

In her extensive unpublished correspondence with Wolfgang von Goethe, Sophie von Grotthuss (born Sara Meyer in Berlin) describes her difficult farewell to Judaism. Her mother, a woman possessed by an unnatural hatred of religion, “married [her] off at the age of fifteen to a wretched creature who for ten years made [her] life a hell.” As she frequently wrote, the marriage in 1778 to the merchant Lippman Wulf completely destroyed her. After Wulf’s death in 1788, she revived, traveled a great deal, particularly to the spas of Bohemia, where in 1795 she became acquainted with Goethe, with whom she corresponded until 1824. In 1799 she married the Livonian Baron Ferdinand Dietrich von Grotthuss, who was soon impoverished and became postmaster in Oranienburg. In her later years she was a prolific author. In an unpublished letter to Goethe, dated August 14, 1824, she refers to a novel, a play and several stories, which she was sending him for approval. Apart from the story, “Sophie ou la difference de l’Education,” two unpublished manuscripts, “Opinions of a German Woman, written in Dresden in the summer of 1814,” and a play, The German Governess, her works appear to have been lost.

Michal Govrin

The equally powerful Zionist legacy of her father’s family adds a crucial dimension to the evolution of Govrin’s literary work. The story of his family’s immigration from the Ukraine to Palestine in the 1920s brings together Zionist ideological variants as represented by four generations. In her essay, The Case of Jewish Biography (2001), Govrin traces the story of her paternal great-grandfather, Izik Hajes (1856–1937), who mourned the destruction of the Temple and “carried his mystical messianic longings” to Jerusalem, where he settled in the hasidic neighborhood of Me’ah She’arim. Her grandfather, Mordecai Globman (1874–1943), was strictly orthodox; yet he supported the [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:325]Haskalah[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] (Jewish secular enlightenment) and joined [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:331]Hovevei Zion[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] (Lovers of Zion), the proto-Zionist movement which founded the first Jewish colonies in Ottoman-ruled Palestine. The writer’s father, Pinchas Govrin, was born in Shpilov in the Ukraine in 1904, emigrated to Palestine in 1921 and was among the founders of [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:342]Kibbutz[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] Tel Yosef in 1921. He died in 1995. His brothers and the next generation adhered to the Zionist socialist platform of the Po’alei Zion, a Zionist workers’ movement, and came to Palestine as pioneers to establish [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:342]kibbutzim[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] and drain the swamps.

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.

Nadine Gordimer

In 1991 Nadine Gordimer became the first South African to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Nadine Gordimer’s work provides a very sensitive and acute analysis of South African society. By depicting the impact of apartheid on the lives of her character, she presents a sweeping canvas of a society where all have been affected by institutionalized racial discrimination and oppression.

Claire Goll

In a life filled with controversy and creativity, Claire Goll published novels and verse, reviewed the fashion, art, film and theater of her day and, with Yvan Goll —the object of her own affection and obsession—wrote volumes of love poetry.

Lea Goldberg

Not only did Goldberg work in a vast range of creative areas—as a poet, author of prose for adults and children, playwright, gifted translator, scholar and critic of literature and theater—but in every one of these fields, and certainly in her poetic output, one can discern many and varied “channels”—from diverse poetic genres to surprising and innovative uses of language and form.

Natalia Ginzburg

Arguably the most important woman writer of post-World War II Italy, Natalia Ginzburg was born on July 14, 1916 in Palermo (Sicily), where her Jewish Trieste-born father, Giuseppe Levi, who later achieved fame as a biologist and histologist, was at the time a lecturer in comparative anatomy. Modest and intensely reserved, Ginzburg never shied away from the traumas of history, whether writing about the Turin of her childhood, the Abruzzi countryside or contemporary Rome—all the while approaching those traumas only indirectly, through the mundane details and catastrophes of personal life.

Margo Glantz

Glantz demonstrates tremendous versatility as an individual and as a writer in the creative ways in which she blends her multiple, cultural, religious and literary affinities. She unabashedly resists classification or categorization of any kind and therefore identifies herself neither as a Jewish writer nor as a composer of personal narrative, nor as a Sor Juanista, the term used to refer to those scholars who devote themselves to the study of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Belonging to no single one of these groups or schools of thought, she is an enigmatic amalgam of all of them. Glantz’s multiplicity is what makes her unique and failure to recognize any one component of her being would diminish her diversity.


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Jewish Women's Archive. "Fiction." (Viewed on December 1, 2015) <>.


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