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Leah Goldberg
Leah Goldberg in 1946
Leah Goldberg in 1946
Born (1911-05-29)May 29, 1911
Königsberg (now Kaliningrad)
Died January 15, 1970(1970-01-15) (aged 58)
Occupation poet, translator, playwright, researcher of literature
Nationality Israeli (since 1948)
Ethnicity Jewish (Ashkenazi)
Literary movement Yakhdav (led by Avraham Shlonsky)
Spouse Never married
Children None
Memorial plaque on Lea Goldberg house in Tel Aviv

Lea Goldberg (Hebrew: לאה גולדברג‎; May 29, 1911, Königsberg – January 15, 1970, Jerusalem) was a prolific Hebrew-language poet, author, playwright, literary translator, and comparative literary researcher. Her writings are considered classics of Israeli literature.


Lea Goldberg was born to a Jewish Lithuanian family from Kaunas, however her mother traveled to the nearby German city of Königsberg (today, Russian Kaliningrad) in order to give birth in better medical conditions. When asked about her place of birth, Goldberg often stated Kaunas rather than Königsberg.

When the First World War broke out, three-year-old Goldberg had to escape with her parents to the Russian Empire, where they spent a year in hard conditions. In Russia, her mother gave birth to a baby boy, Immanuel, who died before reaching his first birthday.

According to Goldberg's autobiographical account in 1938, when the family traveled back to Kaunas in 1919, a Lithuanian border patrol stopped them and accused her father of being a "Bolshevik spy". They locked the father in a nearby abandoned stable, and abused him by preparing his execution every morning for about a week and cancelling it at the last moment. When the border guards finally let the family go, Goldberg's father was in a serious mental state.[1] He eventually lost his ability to function normally and left Kaunas and his family to receive treatment, though it is unclear what was his fate and why he never returned to his family. Goldberg and her mother became very close and lived together until Goldberg's death.

Goldberg's parents spoke several languages, though Hebrew was not one of them. However, Goldberg learned Hebrew at a very young age, as she received her elementary education in a Jewish Hebrew-speaking school. She began writing personal diaries in Hebrew when she was 10 years old. Her first diaries still show limited fluency in Hebrew and influence of the Russian language, but she was determined to write in Hebrew and mastered the language within a short period of time.[2] Even though she was fluent and literate in various European languages, Goldberg wrote her published works, as well as her personal notes, only in Hebrew. In 1926, when she was 15 years old, she wrote in her personal diary, "The unfavourable condition of the Hebrew writer is no secret to me [...] Writing not in Hebrew is the same for me as not writing at all. And yet I want to be a writer [...] This is my only objective."[2]

Goldberg received a PhD from the Universities of Berlin and Bonn in Semitic languages and German. Her scholarship and renown was such that a leading newspaper in Palestine excitedly reported her plans to immigrate to Palestine.[3] In 1935, she settled in Tel Aviv, where she joined a group of Zionist Hebrew poets of Eastern-European origin known as Yakhdav (Hebrew: יחדיו‎ "together"). This group was led by Avraham Shlonsky, and was characterised by adhering to Symbolism especially in its Russian Acmeist form, and rejecting the style of Hebrew poetry that was common among the older generation, particularly that of Haim Nachman Bialik.

She never married and lived with her mother, in Tel Aviv and later Jerusalem. A heavy smoker, she died in 1970 of lung cancer.

Literary career[edit]

Goldberg worked as a high-school teacher and earned a living writing rhymed advertisements until she was hired as an editor by the Hebrew newspapers Davar and Al HaMishmar. She also worked as a children’s book editor at Sifriyat Po'alim publishing house, and wrote theater reviews and literary columns. In 1954, she became a lecturer in literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, advancing to senior lecturer in 1957 and full professor in 1963, when she was appointed head of the university's Department of Comparative Literature.[4]

Lea Goldberg (1964)
Leah Goldberg's poem Ha'omnam od yavo'u

Goldberg wrote Hebrew poetry, drama, and children's literature. Goldberg's books for children, among them "Dira Lehaskir" ("דירה להשכיר", "A Flat for Rent") and "Nisim Uniflaot" ("ניסים ונפלאות", "Miracles and Wonders"), have become classics of Hebrew children's literature.

With exemplary knowledge of seven languages, Goldberg also translated numerous foreign literary works exclusively into Modern Hebrew from Russian, Lithuanian, German, Italian, French, and English. Of particular note is her magnum opus of translation, Tolstoy's epic novel War and Peace, as well as translations of Rilke, Mann, Chekhov, Akhmatova, Shakespeare, and Petrarch, plus many other works including reference books and works for children.


In 1946, Goldberg published her first novel, והוא האור (Hebrew: Vehu ha'or, literally: "And he is the light"). The novel had a strong autobiographical basis, and has been received as shedding much light on the rest of her work. The book opens with symbolic patricide: the protagonist, Nora, is pressed by someone she meets to describe her parents. She does not want to disclose the fact her father is at a psychiatric hospital, and tried to evade the questions, but the other person wouldn't let go, until Nora explodes: "I have no father! My father is dead! Do you hear? Dead!". Despite this attempt, the specter of mental illnesss continues to haunt her throughout the novel.

Literary style and influences[edit]

Goldberg was widely read in Russian, German, and French poetry. Symbolism and Acmeism were strong influences on her style. Her poetry is notable for coherence and clarity, and for an emphasis on ideas over baroque forms.

Goldberg's poetics perceive the general in the specific: a drop of dew represents vast distances and the concrete reflects the abstract. Her poetry has been described as "a system of echoes and mild reverberations, voices and whispers," that recognizes the limitations of the poem and language. Her work is minor and modest, taking a majestic landscape like the Jerusalem hills and focusing on a stone, a thorn, one yellow butterfly, a single bird in the sky.[4]

Unlike many of her contemporary peers, most notably Nathan Alterman, Goldberg avoided outright political poetry, and did not contribute occasional poetry to Hebrew periodicals with overt current-affairs discourse.

Critical acclaim[edit]

Goldberg received in 1949 the Ruppin Prize (for the volume "Al Haprikhá")[5] and, in 1970, the Israel Prize for literature.[6]

The American Hebraist, Gabriel Preil, wrote a poem about Goldberg: "Leah's Absence".

In 2011, Goldberg was announced as one of four great Israeli poets who would appear on Israel's currency (together with Rachel Bluwstein, Shaul Tchernichovsky, and Natan Alterman).[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Leah Goldberg, YIVO
  2. ^ a b Lea Goldberg's Diaries, edited by Rachel and Arie Aharoni, Sifriat Poalim – Hakibbutz Hameuchad Publishing House Ltd. Bnei Brak/Tel Aviv 2005, ISBN 965-02-0299-4 (in Hebrew), p. 9, "About the Diaries" (preface by Arie Aharoni)
  3. ^ The diplomats of the literary world, Jerusalem Post
  4. ^ a b Lea Goldberg and her poetry
  5. ^ report about the ceremony in Hebrew
  6. ^ "Israel Prize Official Site – Recipients in 1970 (in Hebrew)". 
  7. ^ Nadav Shemer, Jerusalem Post, March 10, 2011.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leah_Goldberg — Please support Wikipedia.
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14611 videos foundNext > 


Lamdeni Elohay - Leah Goldberg, Yonatan Niv

לכבוד 40 שנה למותה של לאה גולדברג, יונתן ניב, מוזיקאי הבית של בית תפילה ישראלי הלחין את השיר, משירי סוף הדרך...

Ilanot - Trees - by Leah Goldberg and Achinoam Nini

Beautiful adaptation of Leah Goldberg's poem. For all those who live where they were not born...

The Five Houses of Lea Goldberg - Trailer

http://www.israelidocs.co.il/133374/the-5-houses-of-lea-goldberg IsraeliDocs is extremely proud to release The 5 Houses of Lea Goldberg - A truly poetic film, by the talented Yair Kedar...

ISRAEL MUSIC HISTORY Poet Leah Goldberg (1911 - 1970) "The Flute" Heb."HeHalil"

ISRAEL MUSIC HISTORY http://www.4law.co.il/shosh1.html.

Buchpremiere "Zimmer frei im Haus der Tiere" von Leah Goldberg /

Zimmer frei im Haus der Tiere , von Leah Goldberg, gelesen von Mirjam Pressler, neu illustriert von Nancy Cote Reading of Leah Goldberg´s children´s classic Dira LeHaskir in German for the...

אלכס וסרמן - לאה גולדברג - שירים אחרונים Alex Waserman - Leah Goldberg - Last Poems

English infol follows the Hebrew אלכס וסרמן: "שירים אחרונים" (2008) לקול וויולה טקסט: חמישה שירים מאת לאה גולדברג בביצוע אתי...

Stella Lerner & Leah Goldberg / Michal Bat-Adam - Beit Cafe

מוסיקה: סטלה לרנר מילים: לאה גולדברג מיכל בת אדם, שחקנית ויקטור סטניסלבסקי, פסנתר קונצרט "ליריקה ישראלית"...

Ulpan-Or: Leah Goldberg Cultural Event

Visit us at http://www.ulpanor.com/ Ulpan-Or, center for Hebrew Studies and Israeli Culture and Mrs. Barbara Crook produced a magical and fascinating evening dedicated to the works of the Israeli...

Lea Goldberg Mechora Sheli לאה גולדברג מכורה שלי

בקטע המדהים הזה לאה גולדברג מקריאה בקולה את "מכורה שלי". באדיבות: http://www.saritpoetry.co.il.

14611 videos foundNext > 

148 news items

Jewish Daily Forward

Jewish Daily Forward
Sun, 19 Apr 2015 11:13:09 -0700

... of Dana International, a groundbreaking transwoman pop star who represented Israel in the Eurovision in 1998 and attained Israel's third win in that competition; of singer Ofra Haza and writer Leah Goldberg, who were also known for their artistic ...


Thu, 16 Apr 2015 07:24:05 -0700

Found among the ID cards in Kaunas was that of poet and author Leah Goldberg, who moved to Israel in 1935. The cards were kept with a collection of all ID cards issued by the local population authority in Kauna, to Jews and non-Jews, from 1920-1940.

+972 Magazine

+972 Magazine
Thu, 09 Apr 2015 05:26:09 -0700

(As in Leah Goldberg's [Israeli] children's book A Flat for Rent, in which a visitor is asked: “Do the rooms please you? Does the kitchen please you?” To which she responds: “They do,”and then when the tenants invite her, saying, “so come and dwell ...

Las Vegas Review-Journal

Las Vegas Review-Journal
Fri, 30 May 2014 13:37:17 -0700

A gioblastoma multiforme, the most common brain cancer doctors diagnose in humans and the deadliest, has brought Leah Goldberg here. To a bed in Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center. She is 18, a senior at Northwest Career and Technical Academy, ...
Northeast Valley News
Sat, 28 Feb 2015 15:31:42 -0800

(Leah Goldberg ). Paradise Valley Community College student and member of SPPF, Jerry Raburn, who organized the SPPF event thanked the audience for listening to the panel's points and opinions on education and Common Core standards. (Leah ...


Wed, 25 Mar 2015 07:06:38 -0700

As a campaign to get a woman on the $20 bill picks up steam, you might be surprised to learn just how far behind the times the United States is compared with other countries. At least 10 other nations have already recognized female leaders on their ...

The Daily Pennsylvanian

The Daily Pennsylvanian
Tue, 23 Sep 2014 22:26:15 -0700

Penn's recent announcement to replace Einstein Bagel Bros with Pure Fare, an organic restaurant, was made to satisfy student desires for healthier eating. The decision, which has elicited mixed reactions from students, follows a major survey by Penn ...
Tue, 24 Mar 2015 13:15:00 -0700

Netanyahu brings to mind the character of the “bad boy,” from the famous children's poem by Israeli poet Leah Goldberg. “It's not me,” the child says every time he's caught, “It's the bad boy inside me.” That is what Netanyahu is trying to explain now ...

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