Rahel Is a Great Hebrew Poet, Period

In her demure immediacy, she links the modern Jewish nation to its roots both in the land and in the foundational text of the Bible.

Rahel with her friend Avraham Cahanowitz ca. 1925. National Library of Israel.

Rahel with her friend Avraham Cahanowitz ca. 1925. National Library of Israel.

Response
June 18 2018
About the author

Sarah Rindner teaches English literature at Lander College in New York and blogs at Book of Books.


In his essay on the poet Raḥel, Hillel Halkin offers a fascinating study of her too-brief life (1890-1931), her poetics, and the unique place she occupies in the Hebrew literary landscape. Certainly, against the background of the pioneering Zionist ethos of her time—nationalistic, idealistic, and collectivist—the intense individualism of Raḥel’s verse stands out. No less deeply committed to the Zionist enterprise than other poets cited by Halkin, notably Uri Tsvi Grinberg and Avraham Shlonsky, she devoted herself mainly to the exploration of such seemingly inward emotions as sadness, longing, humility, and self-doubt.

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