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Savyon Liebrecht

LIEBRECHT, SAVYON (1948– ), Hebrew writer. Liebrecht was born in Munich to Holocaust survivors who immigrated to Israel soon afterwards. She studied philosophy and literature at Tel Aviv University and began publishing in 1986. Her first collection of stories, Tappuḥim min ha-Midbar ("Apples from the Desert," 1998) appeared in 1986. The title story tells of a young teacher who stages a confrontation with a woman who apparently was her father's mistress 30 years earlier. In other stories Liebrecht introduces an Israeli Jewish woman who wishes to build a room on the roof of her house, and an Arab worker; a woman who seeks her daughter and learns thereby something about herself and her life; and a woman whose son has become deeply religious. Other collections include Susim al Kevish Gehah ("Horses on the Highway," 1988); Sinit Ani Medabberet Elekha ("It's All Greek to Me, He Said to Her," 1992); Ẓarikh Sof le-Sippur Ahavah ("On Love Stories and Other Endings," 1995); Nashim mitokh ha-Katalog ("Mail Order Women," 2000); and Makom Tov la-Laylah ("A Good Place for the Night," 2002). In the story "Excision," a grandmother jaggedly shears her four-year-old granddaughter's beautiful locks to eradicate lice because that is how they did it in the camps, while in "Compassion," a Holocaust survivor imprisoned by her Arab husband drowns her granddaughter to protect her from future suffering. Liebrecht's recurring themes are Holocaust survivors' lives in Israel half a century after the catastrophe; women's experiences as wives and mothers; the tensions between Orthodox and secular Israelis; and the relationships between individual Arabs and Israelis. Informed by feminism, Liebrecht often describes women struggling against their marginalized status in patriarchal Israeli society: in "The Road to Cedar City" an Israeli woman, mocked and humiliated by her husband and son during a trip in the United States, asserts her independence by making contacts with an Arab wife. The three novellas in the collection "Mail Order Women" highlight the complex relationship developing when a foreign woman, a Filipino caretaker or a Polish girl, enters the life of Israelis. Liebrecht's novel, Ish, Ishah ve-Ish (1998; A Man and a Woman and a Man, 2001) is the story of Hamutal, a married woman, who has a brief love affair with a stranger she meets at the geriatric ward where her sick mother and his dying father are both hospitalized. In Ha-Nashim shel Abba ("The Women my Father Knew," 2005), Liebrecht tells of a belated encounter between Meir and his father, a meeting which enables the son, an aspiring writer, to discover the plot for his next novel. Liebrecht, author of television scripts and plays, was awarded the Alterman Prize (1987). Her prose has been translated into various languages. "Excision" is included in M.J. Bukiet (ed.), Nothing Makes You Free: Writings by the Descendants of Jewish Holocaust Survivors (2002); "Morning in the Park with Nannies" appeared in G. Abramson (ed.), Oxford Book of Hebrew Short Stories (1996); "A Room on the Roof" is available in R. Domb (ed.), New Women's Writing from Israel (1996). For further information concerning translations see the ITHL website at


Ch. Meckel, "Mitteilungen aus Israel," in: Die Zeit (September 11, 1992); N. Govrin, "Rishumah shel ha-Sho'ah be-Sipporet Nashim Ivrit," in: Reeh, 2 (1997), 11–34; L. Yudkin, "Holocaust Trauma in the Second Generation: The Hebrew Fiction of D. Grossman and S. Liebrecht," in: E. Sicher (ed.), Breaking Crystal (1998), 170–181; idem, "Second Generation and the Active Presence: Savyon Liebrecht," in: Literature in the Wake of the Holocaust (2003), 85–104; Y. Zerubavel, "Revisiting the Pioneer Past: Continuity and Change in Hebrew Settlement Narratives," in: Hebrew Studies, 41 (2000), 209–224; O. Bishko, "Ha-Zikah ha-Semantit-Logit shel ha-Petiḥut le-Guf ha-Sippur ha-Kaẓar: S. Liebrecht," in: Talpiyot, 11 (2000), 202–210; R. Heusser-Markun, "S. Liebrecht, israelische Alltagsanalytikerin," in: Neue Zürcher Zeitung (January 7, 2000); D. Abramovich, "Post Holocaust Identity and Unresolved Tension in Modern Day Israel: Liebrecht's 'Apples from the Desert,'" in: Women in Judaism, 3:1 (2002); N.B. Sokoloff, "Zionist Dreams and Savyon Liebrecht's 'A Cow Named Virginia,'" in: History and Literature (2002), 439–450; T. Elor, "Tappuḥim min ha-Midbar," in: Morot be-Yisrael (2002), 216–239; E. Trevisan Semi, "Migrant Women and Israeli Society in 'Nashim mitokh Katalog' by S. Liebrecht," in: Materia Giudaica, 8:2 (2003), 397–403; L. Yudkin, "Second Generation and the Active Presence: S. Liebrecht," in: Literature in the Wake of the Holocaust (2003), 85–104.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.