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Ruth Rubin

Ruth Rubin devoted a lifetime to the collection and preservation of Yiddish folklore in poetics and songs. As a popular performer-folklorist, she would describe the background of her selections and then sing them in a simple, unaccompanied style. Rubin helped preserve the past and launch the modern Yiddish revival.

Adrienne Cecile Rich

Adrienne Rich was an influential poet, thinker, and political activist. In her essays and poems, Rich explored the intersections of the personal and the political, focusing in particular on questions of identity while drawing on her own experiences as a woman, a lesbian, and a Jew.

Marge Piercy

Novelist and poet Marge Piercy's life and life’s work reflect her deep engagement with political activism, feminism, and Judaism. In genres including fiction, poetry, liturgy, memoir, and essays, Piercy’s work brings together spirituality, creativity, memory, sensuality, and political engagement.

Grace Paley

Grace Paley wrote highly acclaimed short stories, poetry, and reflections on contemporary politics and culture. A rare example of a writer deeply engaged with the world, Grace Paley made an impact as much through her activism as her writing.

Kadya Molodowsky

Kadya Molodowsky was a major figure in the Yiddish literary scene in Warsaw (from the 1920s through 1935) and in New York (from 1935 until her death in 1975). She published extensively in many genres, including poetry, fiction, drama, and essays, and founded and edited two journals. Recurrent themes in her work include the lives of Jewish women and girls Jewish tradition in the face of modernity, Israel, and the Holocaust.

Adah Isaacs Menken

In her short but remarkable life, actress Adah Isaacs Menken became legendary for her scandalous defiance of convention. One of the most glamorous celebrities of the 1860s, Menken also cultivated a literary following. She wrote poetry and developed relationships with Walt Whitman and Charles Dickens, among others.

Lenore Guinzburg Marshall

Lenore Guinzburg Marshall, novelist, poet, activist, and literary editor, pushed her publishing company to publish William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury after it had been rejected by twelve other publishers. She published her first novel, Only the Fear, in 1935 and her first poetry collection, No Boundary, in 1943, going on to write poetry, novels, short stories, essays, and a memoir.

Judith Malina

Judith Malina was an actress, director, and producer who dedicated her life to creating avant-garde, politically charged theater works, and activism. She co-founded the experimental Living Theatre company with her husband; was involved in the antiwar movement, Women Strike for Peace, and the Industrial Workers of the World; and won many honors and awards for her acting and directing work. 

Hagar: Apocrypha

Reference to Hagar appears in a wisdom poem (Bar 3:9–4:4) that is itself part of an apocryphal letter written sometime between 200 to 60 B.C.E. to the priests and people of Jerusalem from Baruch, the scribe and close friend of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 36).

Aliza Greenblatt

Deep love for the Jewish people informed the life of Aliza Greenblatt, an American Yiddish poet and Zionist leader in women’s organizations. Greenblatt was among the first to organize the American Jewish community and raise funds toward the establishment of a Jewish national home. Many of her poems, widely published in the Yiddish press, were also set to music.

Rajzel Zychlinski

Rajzel Zychlinski’s poetry was shaped by the hopes and horrors of the twentieth century. She lived in Poland, the Soviet Union, France, and the United States, and was fluent in five languages, but for over seventy years she wrote only in the one idiom that was truly hers: Yiddish.


An acclaimed and widely beloved Hebrew poet, Zelda’s work was utterly unique, conforming to no one school of Hebrew poetry. Her six books of mystical-religious verse were bestsellers, demonstrating that, while her poetry frequently referenced classical Jewish texts, it was admired by Jewish Israelis across political and religious spectrums.


Yudica, the pseudonym of Yehudit Zik, was a Canadian-Jewish poet and activist whose reputation in Yiddish literature was largely developed during her three decades in North America. Yudica contributed greatly to the “proletarian” literature genre of Canadian Yiddish writing.

Jane Yolen

Jane Yolen is a Jewish-American children’s author, poet, and young adult novelist. Yolen has written more than 400 books for children and adults, including the children’s book series How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? and the young adult Holocaust novella The Devil’s Arithmetic.

Miriam Yalan-Stekelis

Miriam Yalan-Stekelis revolutionized Israeli children’s literature with her classic poems and stories. She challenged the convention of the “happy ending” in children’s stories, portraying children playing yet also struggling and suffering from the judgment of adults. Yalan-Stekelis’s play-songs and poems have become an integral part of the cultural repertoire of kindergartens and schools in Israel.

Writers in Victorian England

Spurred to publish initially as a response to the concerted campaigning of Christian conversionists, women writers were the first Anglo-Jews to produce literature on Jewish themes in England. By the end of the nineteenth century, literature by Jewish women had expanded to encompass not only works defensive of the dignity and rights of Anglo-Jewry, but also satirical novels critical of the community’s materialism and marriage practices.

Bertha Wiernik

Writer and translator Bertha Wiernik is remembered by her many adaptations of Yiddish literature and dramatic works. Working closely with charitable societies throughout her career, Wiernik helped spread Jewish literature throughout New York City in the early 20th century.

Ruth Whitman

Poet Ruth Whitman was known for her acclaimed translations of Yiddish poetry, as well as for her own autobiographical work. She wrote a series of narrative poems in the voices of women from the past, including Lizzie Borden, Tamsen Donner, Hanna Szenes, and Hatshepsut, the only woman pharaoh in ancient Egypt. In these, she explored problems with sexual identity, love, work, and motherhood.

Yona Wallach

Regarded by many of her friends and colleagues as the most important among the young Israeli poets of the 1960s, Yona Wallach has had a profound effect on Israel’s cultural life ever since her works began to appear in periodicals in the early 1960s, despite her early death from cancer in 1985.

Miriam Dworkin Waddington

Miriam Dworkin Waddington was a distinguished and pioneering Canadian poet and literary critic. Her original poetry included many explicit references to her Jewish secular outlook, and other poems were infused with a commitment to social justice that drew on that same source. Impatient with the Canadian “canon” of her time, she introduced to wider audiences the works of A.M. Klein and poets writing in Yiddish with her literary criticism and her translations.

Malka Heifetz Tussman

Malka Heifetz Tussman introduced into Yiddish poetry one of the most rigid verse forms, the triolet, and mastered another, the sonnet corona. A teacher of Yiddish language and literature in the Midwest and the West, Tussman was awarded the Itzik Manger Prize for Yiddish poetry in Tel Aviv in 1981.

Marie Trommer

Marie Trommer was an early twentieth-century writer, poet, artist, art critic, and contributor to American Jewish newspapers. After attending the Cooper Union Art School, Trommer became known for her contributions to Jewish newspapers, her poetry, and her oil and watercolor paintings. She was a member of the Creative Writers Group, Society of Independent Artists, and Art Alliance of America. 

Hannah Szenes (Senesh)

Hannah Szenes has attained legendary status in the pantheon of Zionist history. After immigrating to Israel, Szenes agreed to participate in a military operation as a paratrooper. Hungarian authorities captured her and tortured her, but Szenes refused to talk. She was killed by a firing squad in 1944. Szenes mother published her daughter’s diary, poetry, and plays posthumously.

Margarete Susman

Margarete Susman published her first writings, a book of poetry, in 1901 and went on to have a prolific writing career that included plays, books, and journal articles. Susman combined literature and theory, often reflecting seminal texts of modern theory and addressing political issues and women’s rights. Her writings concentrate on the most problematic issues of the modern world: God and human beings, man and woman, Jew and Christian.

Sarra Copia Sullam

The best-known and least typical Jewish woman of early-modern Italy, Sarra Copia Sullam engaged publicly with leading intellectuals and produced poetry, letters, and polemics, particularly about the belief in immortality of the soul. The context of her literary activity was the academies (accademia) of Venice, including one that she held in her own house, which attracted a stream of distinguished visitors from the city states of northern Italy who discussed philosophy, theology, art, and literature and who engaged in domestic intrigue.


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