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Dvora Baron (1887–1956)

Author of The First Day and Other Stories

Includes the names: Dvorah Baron, Devorah Baron, דבורה בארון

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Devorah Baron is considered the first woman to make a career for herself as a Hebrew writer.
She was one of six children born to the Russian-Jewish family of a rabbi. As a girl, she resisted "feminine" occupations and games, and demonstrated unusual interest and persistence in studying Torah and Hebrew like the boys. As a result, her father pernitted her to acquire a thorough Jewish-Hebrew education. At age 15, he even allowed her to follow her brother Benjamin to Minsk and Kovno for a secular education, which was a rarity for a Jewish girl of her time and background. Devorah completed high school and then worked as a tutor, often living in her students’ homes. She started writing short stories in Yiddish, which created an immediate sensation because of her youth, her gender, and the fact that she wrote about taboo subjects such as love and sex. Some years later, her fiancé, author Moshe Ben-Eliezer, broke off their engagement, supposedly because of Devorah's independent ways and her outspoken literary expression.
In 1910, after Devorah's father died, her shtetl was destroyed in an anti-Semitic pogrom. Devorah emigrated to Palestine, then under Ottoman rule. She became the literary editor of the Zionist-Socialist magazine Ha-Po’el ha-Za’ir (The Young Worker). In 1911, she married Yosef Aharonovitz, the editor of the magazine and a famous Zionist activist. The couple had a daughter, Zipporah. In 1915, Devorah and her family were exiled to Alexandria, Egypt along with many other members of the elite of Jewish society, by the Ottoman government. They were able to return to their homes in 1919, after the end of World War I and the establishment of the British Mandate of Palestine. In 1922, both Devorah and Yosef resigned from their positions with the magazine. For Devorah, this was the beginning of a strange seclusion from the outside world that lasted 34 years until her death. During the final 20 years of her life, she rarely left her bed, and did not even attend her husband’s funeral. She was cared for by her daughter and received visits from old friends on certain afternoons. She continued to write and most of her work focused on her family and childhood. Devorah also translated some major European works into Hebrew, including Flaubert’s Madame Bovary.
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