As one of Palestine’s first Hebrew poets, Elisheva Bichovsky helped shape the emerging country’s new literary scene. Born Elizaveta Zhirkova, she began writing poetry in high school around the same time she befriended a Jewish classmate and began studying Yiddish and Hebrew. In 1915 she began translating stories and poems from Yiddish and Hebrew to Russian for the journal Evreskaya Zhizn. She composed hundreds of Russian poems and published two collections in 1919 before switching to Hebrew the following year. She married Zionist Simeon Bichovsky in 1920 and the couple made Aliyah in 1925, settling in Tel Aviv. Among her many publications, her 1926 Kos Ketannah and 1929 Simta’ot were, respectively, the first poetry collection and first novel written by a woman to be published in Palestine. Her use of Sephardic pronunciation in her poetry became the accepted norm. She earned a living from literary tours abroad, during which time the literary community in Palestine became disenchanted with her. When her husband died suddenly in 1932, she returned to Israel and found herself penniless and unable to support her young daughter, rejected by most in the community. She survived on a small stipend secured by the poet Bialik and on her translation work, but never again wrote poetry.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Elisheva Bichovsky." (Viewed on January 18, 2019) <https://jwa.org/people/bichovsky-elisheva>.