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Esther Raab (1894–1981)

Author of Thistles: Selected Poems of Esther Raab

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Israeli (1) Jewish (1) poetry (1) translation (1)
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Esther Raab was the first native-born Israeli woman poet and an important figure in the emerging literature of the modern Hebrew language. Her father was an immigrant from Hungary who helped establish the first moshav (cooperative agricultural settlement), where Esther grew up in poverty and hardship. In 1921, she married her cousin Yitzhak Green, a merchant, and the couple lived in Cairo and Paris. Back in Israel, they settled in Tel Aviv, where their home became a meeting place for writers and painters. Esther's first individual poems were published in the 1920s. In 1930, shortly before the publication of her first collection of poems, Kimshonim (Thistles), her husband died. Two years later, she married the painter Arieh Alweil. Her second collection, Shirei Esther Raab, appeared more than 30 years later, in 1964. Her late poems appeared in the volume Tefillah Aḥaronah (Last Prayer, 1972). A collection of short stories, Gan she-Ḥarav, some depicting her childhood and youth and vivid impressions of her stay in Egypt, was published in 1983. Esther Raab's work expresses her love for her country -- the soil and the space -- as well as yearning, pain, disappointment, and loneliness. The growing interest in Hebrew women writers has given rise to a rediscovery and re-appreciation of her work. Esther Raab's stories also have appeared in foreign anthologies.
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