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Hannah Trager (1870–1943)

Author of Pictures of Jewish Home-Life Fifty Years Ago

Includes the names: Hannah Trage

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Short biography
Hannah Barnett was born in London to an Anglo-Jewish family. Her father had emigrated to the UK from Lithuania, but had always intended to settle in the Jewish homeland. Accordingly, in 1871, the family moved to Jerusalem. However, her father's business went bankrupt and they had to return to London. Hannah's father went back and forth between Palestine and London some 15 times, sometimes taking his family with him, sometimes leaving them behind. In the early 1890s, the family moved again to Palestine but Hannah stayed in London. In 1888, she married Israel Gottman, a businessman, and had two daughters. Ten years into their marriage, her husband's business went bankrupt and he died shortly afterwards. Hannah supported herself and her daughters by working as a midwife, even after she married Joseph Trager, a chemist. The great tragedy of her life was the death of her first daughter Rose from pneumonia in 1911, and the suicide of her second daughter Sarah in 1924. During these years, and in spite of the calamities that befell her, Hannah Trager continued to play an active role in the public and cultural life of the London Jewish community. She fought for civil rights, education, and improved status for Jewish women. During World War I, she assisted sick and poor Jewish refugees from Europe and initiated the establishment of the Jewish Free Reading Room in East London, which she ran as its librarian. Hannah Trager wrote articles for the Jewish press and published four books between 1919 and 1926. Three of them were collections of children’s stories, and the fourth was intended for adults. All her writings contained autobiographical elements. After the publication of her final book in 1926, Hannah Trager moved alone to Palestine. For many years, her writings were unknown in Israel and it was only in the 1970s that her stories appeared for the first time, in the children’s magazine Haaretz Shelanu, and later, in the collection Stories of the Women of the First Aliyah (1984).
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