The First Day and Other Stories (Paperback)

By Dvora Baron, Naomi Seidman (Editor), Chana Kronfeld (Editor), Naomi Seidman (Translated by), Chana Kronfeld (Translated by)

University of California Press, 9780520085381, 261pp.

Publication Date: April 30, 2001

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Dvora Baron (1887-1956), the first modern Hebrew woman writer, was born in a small Lithuanian town in 1887. Her father, a rabbi, gave his daughter a thorough education, an extraordinary act at the time. Baron immigrated to Palestine in 1910, married a prominent Zionist activist, but defied the implicit ideological demands of the Zionist literary scene by continuing to write of the shtetl life she had left behind.

The eighteen stories in this superb collection offer an intimate re-creation of Jewish Eastern Europe from a perspective seldom represented in Hebrew and Yiddish literature of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Baron brings vividly to life the shtetl experiences of women and other disenfranchised members of the Jewish community. Her stories relate the feelings of a newborn girl, a "Jewish" dog, an impoverished bookkeeper, a young widow who must hire herself out as a wet-nurse, and others who face emotional and physical hardships.

Baron's fluid writing style pushes the flexibility of Hebrew and Yiddish syntax to its limits, while her profound knowledge of both biblical and rabbinical literature lends rich subtleties to her stories. A companion to Conversations with Dvora: An Experimental Biography of the First Modern Hebrew Woman Writer, by Amia Lieblich (California, 1997), this collection is drawn from Baron's earlier as well as later works.

About the Author

Naomi Seidman is Associate Professor of Jewish Culture and Director of the Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. She is the author of A Marriage Made in Heaven: The Sexual Politics of Hebrew and Yiddish (California, 1997). Chana Kronfeld is Associate Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. Her book On the Margins of Modernism: Decentering Literary Dynamics (California, 1995) received the Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize of the Modern Language Association.