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Haim Be'er

(1945- )

BE'ER, HAIM (1945– ), Israeli writer. Born in Jerusalem, Be'er grew up in an Orthodox family, among deeply religious Jews whose conversations were studded with quotations from the Bible, the Talmud, and the later rabbinic literature. Following his army service in the military chaplaincy, he joined the Am Oved Publishing House in Tel Aviv, where he advanced from proofreader to member of the editorial board. Be'er's prose depicts the Orthodox milieu, a wide and colorful range of types, some eccentric or comic, others pitiable. His first novel, Noẓot (Feathers; Eng. trans. 2004) describes the experiences and observations of a boy growing up in Jerusalem and joining a military burial squad during the Yom Kippur War (1973). A sense of the grotesque, which underlines the portraits of a bizarre visionary leader, Esperantists, and vegetarians, also marks Be'er's second novel, Et ha-Zamir ("The Time of Trimming," 1987). It is the story of Naḥum Gevirẓ, serving in a rabbinical unit between 1965 and 1967, a period of messianic dreams and hopes of "liberating the Holy City from captivity." This merciless account, marked by parody and biting criticism, was described by critics as "the Israeli Catch 22." Be'er's personal experiences play an even more significant role in his third novel, Ḥavalim (1998; The Pure Element of Time, 2003), an autobiographical novel which has been praised as a pastiche of different styles. While the first part centers on the figure of the author's grandmother, a remarkable woman and a born storyteller, the second part depicts the marriage of his parents, his beloved mother and her much older, melancholy husband. The third part of this gripping epic triptych describes the protagonist's first steps as a writer. Other books by Be'er are a collection of poems Sha'ashuei Yom Yom (1970) and a study of the literary and personal relations between three outstanding Hebrew writers: Brenner, Bialik, and Agnon (Gam Ahavtam, Gam Sinatam, 1993).


H. Halkin, "Three Men at the Hub," in: The Jerusalem Report (Dec. 17, 1992); J. Green, in: The Jerusalem Post (Oct. 16, 1998); H. Hever, in: Haaretz, Sefarim (Sept. 23, 1998); D. Rak, Ha-Zhener ha-otobiyografi be-Sifrut ha-Olam u-Vituyo bi-Yeẓirat Haim Be'er u-vi-Yeẓirat Philip Roth (2002); G. Shaked, "Between Utopia and Apocalypse: On H. Beer's Noẓot," in: Modern Hebrew Literature 6, 1–2 (1980), 14–18; idem "Ha-Orev ha-Satiri be-Noẓot ha-Zamir," in: Moznayim 61, 10–11 (1988), 24–27; Z. Shamir, in: Maariv (Mar. 28, 1980); S. Katz, "Yonim ba-Meiẓar," in: Yerushalayim 15, 2 (1981), 98–104; R. Lee, "Od Noẓah al Noẓot," in: Ha-Do'ar 60,19 (1981), 299–300; G. Shaked, "Ha-Orev ha-Satiri be-Noẓot ha-Zamir," in: Moznayim 61, 10–11 (1988), 24–27; Y. Oren, "Ḥavalim," in: Moznayim 73, 4 (1999), 49–52; N. Ben Dov, "Ḥevlei Ḥayyim," in: Alei Si'aḥ 42 (2000), 74–78. WEBSITE:

[Anat Feinberg (2nd ed.)]

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