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Malka Heifetz Tussman

TUSSMAN, MALKA HEIFETZ (1893–1987), U.S. Yiddish poet and teacher. Born in Ukraine, the second of eight children, Tussman, who came to the United States in 1912 to join family members in Chicago, married cantor Shloyme Tussman soon after her arrival. She and her husband, who had two sons, lived in Milwaukee and later in Los Angeles. Tussman studied at the University of Wisconsin and briefly at the University of California at Berkeley. She taught for many years in Yiddish secular schools and in 1949 became an instructor in Yiddish language and literature at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles. After spending 1971–72 in Israel, following her husband's death, she lived for the rest of her life in Berkeley, Calif.

Tussman began publishing poems, short stories, and essays in Yiddish newspapers and journals in 1918. She published six volumes of poetry in Yiddish between 1949 and 1977; her poems appear in many anthologies. She also translated poems by a wide range of writers into Yiddish. Tussman was a mentor for a number of younger poets, some of whom translated her works into English. She thus "served as a bridge between the generations of Yiddish poets who emigrated from Eastern Europe and of those American-born Jewish poets who have taken up the task of making Yiddish poetry known to a readership that knows little Yiddish" (Hellerstein). Her works include Bleter Faln Not (1972); Haynt Iz Eybik: Lider (1977); Lider (1949); Mild Mayn Vild (1958); Shotns fun Gedenkn (1965); and Unter Dayn Tseykhn: Lider (1974). With Teeth in the Earth: Selected Poems (1992) is an English translation of some of her poetry, edited and with an introduction by Marcia *Falk.


K. Hellerstein. "Tussman, Malka Heifetz," in: P.E. Hyman and D.D. Moore (eds.), Jewish Women in America, vol. 2 (1997), 1422–23.

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