Goldberg, Leah (1911–1970) By Schachter, Allison
Leah Goldberg (1911–70) was a prolific modernist poet, novelist, playwright, translator, and literary critic. Born in Königsberg, Germany, Goldberg grew up in the Russian-speaking milieu of Kovno. Her early education was in Russian and German and she read widely in both languages. During World War I the family fled Kovno. Upon their return in 1918 Goldberg’s parents enrolled her in the Hebrew gymnasium and there she studied Hebrew and language and literature. In 1931 she traveled to Germany to begin graduate work in Semitic Studies in Berlin and later in Bonn, where she completed her doctorate. In Germany, Goldberg witnessed the collapse of the Weimar Republic and the Nazi rise to power—two historical events that haunt her work. In 1935, Goldberg immigrated to Mandatory Palestine and found a place for herself as a prominent member of the Moderna, a group of Hebrew modernist poets that included Avraham Shlonsky and Nathan Alterman, quickly establishing herself as an important intellectual and cultural figure of her generation. She played this role not only as a poet and writer, but also as a scholar. Goldberg taught at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she founded the Department of Comparative Literature.