Told repeatedly from an early age that girls were not worth educating and that uneducated people couldn’t be writers, Blume Lempel defied expectations to write beautiful, unusually modernist Yiddish literature. Lempel briefly attended a girls’ heder, but her father regularly kept her home to tend the cows. She had plans to immigrate to Palestine in 1929, but made a stop in Paris to visit her brother and stayed for nine years, taking night classes and working in a factory. Her brother, himself well educated, scorned her early writing attempts, and she was so disheartened she destroyed her work. She married and had two children, then fled Paris with her family in 1939. Once settled in New York, she took classes at the New School, read extensively, and quietly began writing again. Her first short story was published in Der Tog under the pen name Rokhl Halpern in 1943, and her first novel, Between Two Worlds, followed in 1947. Both her style and content were highly unusual for Yiddish literature—using stream–of–consciousness, flashback, and other modernist techniques to tackle themes ranging from the Holocaust to incest and sexual awakening.
More on Blume Lempel
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Blume Lempel." (Viewed on August 21, 2019) <https://jwa.org/people/lempel-blume>.