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Esther Raab

RAAB, ESTHER (1894–1981), Hebrew poet. Raab, born in Petaḥ Tikvah, is considered the first Hebrew poetess in Ereẓ Israel. Her father, Judah *Raab, had immigrated from Hungary and helped found the first moshavah, where she grew up in poverty and hardship. After a short stay in Deganyah, she worked in Ben Shemen and returned home. In 1921 she married her cousin, the merchant Yitzhak Green and spent five years with him in Cairo and in Paris. Back in Tel Aviv, the couple's home became a meeting place for writers and painters. Her first poems appeared in Hedim in the beginning of the 1920s. In 1930, shortly before the publication of her first collection of poems, Kimshonim (Thistles, 2002), her husband died. Two years later, Raab married the painter Arieh Alweil. Her second collection, Shirei Esther Raab, appeared more than 30 years later, in 1964. Her late poems appeared in the volume Tefillah Aḥaronah ("Last Prayer," 1972). Yalkut Shirim, published in 1982, includes a lengthy introduction by Reuven Shoham. A collection of stories, Gan she-Ḥarav, with stories depicting her childhood and youth in the moshavah and her vivid impressions of her stay in Egypt, appeared in 1983. Her nephew, the writer Ehud Ben Ezer, edited Kol ha-Shirim (1988) and Kol ha-Prozah (2001) and wrote her biography Yamim shel La'anah u-Devash ("Days of Gall and Honey"–including a bibliography, 1998). The landscape of Ereẓ Israel and the Orient, colors, shades, and smells, and particularly the flora of the homeland make up her poetic texture. Raab expresses a genuine love for the country, the soil, the space, and writes passionate lyrical poetry, expressing yearning, pain, disappointment, and loneliness. The growing interest in Hebrew women writers and their oeuvre has also given rise to a rediscovery and re-appreciation of Esther Raab and her poetry. In addition to the English collection Thistles, to which the translator Harold Schimmel added an Introduction, single poems and stories appeared in foreign anthologies. For translations see the ITHL website at


E. Sharoni, "Edenic Energy: E. Raab's Unmediated Vision of Nature," in: Modern Hebrew Literature 8:3–4 (1983), 62–69; D. Melamed, "Requiem for a Landscape," in: Modern Hebrew Literature, 9:3–4 (1984), 69–72; A. Lerner, "'A Woman's Song': The Poetry of E. Raab," in: Gender and Text in Modern Hebrew and Yiddish Literature (1992), 17–38; idem, "The Naked Land: Nature in the Poetry of E. Raab," in: Women of the Word (1994), 236–57; B. Mann, "Framing the Native: E. Raab's Visual Poetics," in: Israel Studies, 4:1 (1999), 234–57; H. Zamir, "Ahavat Moledet ve-Si'aḥ Ḥershim," in: Theory and Criticism, 7 (1995), 125–45; E. Ben Ezer, "E. Raab ve-ha-Aravim," in: Nativ, 9:5 (1996), 72–78; Z. Luz, E. Raab, Monografiyyah (1997); E. Ben Ezer, "Or Ḥadash al E. Raab ve-Y. Luidor," in: Iton 77, 255 (2001), 17–20; Sh. Zayit, "'Ani Amarti et Kol ha-Emet, Ani Nishba'at': Ha-Model ha-Biografi shel E. Raab," in: Masad, 2 (2004), 21–29.

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