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Guide to the Rukhl Fishman Papers, 1940-1990
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Collection includes the papers of an American-born Yiddish poet living in Israel until her death in 1984. Includes incoming and outgoing correspondence, poetry manuscripts, newsclippings, subject files, personal documents, and school/youth activities.
Rukhl Fishman (RF), the younger sister of Joshua A. Fishman (JAF), was born June 10, 1935 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was raised in a secular Yiddish-speaking home and her parents, Aaron and Sonia Fishman (AF and SF), were dedicated activists in local Yiddishist circles. RF attended Workmen's Circle elementary and high school from 1941-1949 and was a camper at Camp Boiberik, where her friends included Bina Silverman (later Weinreich) and Gella Schweid (later Fishman) (GSF). RF's early literary efforts were encouraged by the poet Malke Heifetz-Tusman in Los Angeles, California, where the family moved in 1949. While in Los Angeles RF became active in the Zionist youth movement Hashomer Hatsair and attended hakhsharot (agricultural training colonies) in New York and New Jersey after the family's return to the East Coast in 1953. In 1953 she met Theodor Holdheim, a mathematician and musician who had come to the U.S. as a shaliakh (emissary) from Hashomer Hatsair. They were married in 1954 and moved to Holdheim's kibbutz in Israel, Kibbutz Bet-Alpha. RF particularly loved the outdoor agricultural work on the kibbutz, which was to influence much of her poetry. RF continued her Yiddish literary activities in Israel. She was the youngest member of the group Yung yisroel (Young Israel) and often published in their journal of the same name. Avrom Sutzkever, one of the most distinguished modern Yiddish poets, encouraged her writing. Starting in 1956 he published her work in the leading Yiddish literary journal Di goldene keyt (The Golden Chain), of which he is the editor. RF spent the year 1972 in Jerusalem taking private lessons with the scholar Yudl Mark and courses in Yiddish and Hebrew Literature at the Hebrew University. In 1978 she won the Itsik Manger Prize for Yiddish Literature. From about 1957, RF showed signs of illness which was eventually diagnosed as Lupus. Her husband was also frequently ill during these years. RF had 9 miscarraiges, after which the couple adopted two sons, in 1964 and 1967. RF died on August 26, 1984. Theodor Holdheim died six months later. Four volumes of RF's poetry were published during her lifetime: Zun iber alts (Sun Over Everything) (1962), Derner nokhn regn (Thorns After the Rain) (1966), Himl tsvishn grozn/Shamayim be-eysev (Heaven Among the Grass) (1968), and Vilde tsig/Iza pziza (Wild Goat) (1976). The last two were published in bilingual editions with Hebrew translations by Arye Aharoni. A selection of her work in Yiddish and English translation, Azoy vil ikh faln/I Want To Fall Like This, was published in 1994 by Wayne State University Press (Detroit, Michigan).
5.5 linear ft.
Property rights reside with the repository. Literary rights reside with the creators of the documents or their heirs. To obtain permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Public Services Librarian of the Dept. of Special Collections.
Partially restricted. For more information, contact the Manuscripts Librarian.