One of the great poets of modern Israeli literature, Lea Goldberg used the forms of Eastern European folk songs to capture the world lost in the Holocaust. Goldberg began writing poetry at twelve, but was profoundly shaped by her family’s exile from Russia to Lithuania and her father’s imprisonment and subsequent breakdown. Goldberg studied at the Universities of Kovno, Berlin, and Bonn, doing a dissertation on the Samaritan translation of the Torah. She made Aliyah to Palestine in 1935 and published her first collection of poetry, Smoke Rings, later that year. Throughout the 1940s her poems paid tribute to the Eastern Europe of her childhood, but in the 1950s she explored themes of creativity, love, and silence, particularly in her 1955 collection Morning Lightning. She began teaching literature at Hebrew University in the 1950s, focusing on Russian literature, and shaped a number of young Israeli poets including Yehuda Amichai and Dalia Ravikovitch. She also published several plays, children’s books, and novels, most notably And He Is the Light in 1964, and translated Tolstoy, Ibsen, and Chekhov into Hebrew. She continued writing until her death, and was awarded the Israel Prize posthumously in 1970.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Lea Goldberg." (Viewed on January 15, 2021) <https://jwa.org/people/goldberg-lea>.