ALMOG, RUTH


ALMOG, RUTH (1936– ), Israeli writer. Almog was born in Petaḥ Tikvah to an Orthodox family of German descent. "My parents emigrated from Germany in 1933. My mother insisted on it, she was a pessimist while my father was an idealist. As he could not find work as a physician, which was his profession, he decided to become a farmer, partly out of idealism. And so they bought beehives." Childhood memories, the atmosphere of the first Hebrew *moshavah, and the figure of the father are indeed recurring elements in Almog's prose. Almog studied literature and philosophy at the Hebrew University and taught in schools as well as at Tel Aviv University, making her home in Tel Aviv and from 1967 serving on the editorial staff of the literary supplement of the newspaper Haaretz.

Almog is considered one of the seminal women-writers in contemporary Hebrew literature. Relationships within the family, love, passion and betrayal, romantic dreams, and disillusionment are some of the major concerns in her prose. Following a collection of stories entitled Ḥasdei ha-Laylah shel Margarita (1969), she published Be-Ereẓ Gezerah ("The Exile," 1971), the story of a young woman's journey to Germany in search of her family roots and her own identity. In her novel Mavet ba-Geshem (1982; "Death in the Rain," 1993), set against the Mediterranean landscapes of Israel and Greece, she depicts an intricate relationship between three men and two women. Shorshei Avir ("Roots of Light," 1987) is the story of Mira Gutman, who desparately tries to disentangle her roots in an attempt to free herself from the coils of her family's fate. Unlike some of the other women-figures in Almog's stories, Mira, a modern Antigone, refuses to be passive and submissive. The death of her lover Jan during the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia prompts her to fight for the ideal of freedom. The collection of stories Nashim ("Women," 1986) depicts women coping with loneliness, physical handicaps, and haunting memories: In "Rachel Stern meets Fellini in Rome," Almog juxtaposes the longing for life and the painful awareness of immanent death; In "Henya Is No Longer Blue," she describes Henya's physical deterioration and her last moments of grace. The collection entitled Kol ha-Osher ha-Mufraz ha-Zeh (2003) depicts, amongst other things, Holocaust survivors and immigrants who are trying to build a new life in Israel. This is also the theme of Me'il Katon (1993), the story of the boy Shaul-Paul who grows up amidst old and sickly immigrants from Europe and Oriental Jews. Almog's other works include the epistolary novel Be-Ahavah, Natalia (2005), various collections of stories, books for children, and two novels which she wrote together with Esther Ettinger (Me'ahev Mushlam, 1995, and Estelina Ahuvati, 2002). Almog was awarded the Brenner Prize (1989), the Agnon Prize (2001), and the Yad Vashem Prize for children's literature for "My Journey with Alex" (1999).

Almog's story "Shrinking" is included in Six Israeli Novel-las (edited by G. Shaked, 1999); "Dora's Secret" appeared in The Oxford Book of Hebrew Short Stories (edited by G. Abramson, 1996); and "A Good Spot" is included in New Women's Writing from Israel (edited by R. Domb, 1996).

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

G. Shaked, Ha-Sipporet ha-Ivrit, 5 (1998), 340–66; idem, Bein Bat la-Avotehah, in: Moznayim 72, 6 (1998), 8–12; P. Shirav, Ketivah lo Tamah (1998); Y.S. Feldman, No Room of their Own: Gender and Nation in Israeli Women Fiction (1999). A. Zehavi, in: Yedioth Ahronoth (Dec. 12, 1980); M. Geldman, in: Haaretz (Jan. 2, 1981); P. Shirav, Derekh ha-Em, in: Alei Si'aḥ 34 (1994), 69–82; N. Tamir-Smilanski, Zikaron shel Nashim be-Sippurei R. Almog, in: Ha-Ḥinukh u-Sevivo 20 (1998), 103–8; N. Gertz, Mitaḥat lifnei ha-Shetaḥ: Al ha-Sippur she- mitaḥat le-Sippurah shel R. Almog "Gamadim al ha-Pidgamah," in: Sifrut ve-Ḥevrah ba-Tarbut ha-Ivrit ha-Ḥadashah (2000), 316–27; E. Adivi-Shoshan, Zo Yalduti ha-Sheniyah: Al Sippurei ha-Yaldut shel R. Almog, in: Ha-Ḥinukh u-Sevivo 24 (2002), 287–306.

[Anat Feinberg (2nd ed.)]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.