Rosenfarb, Chawa 1923–

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Rosenfarb, Chawa 1923–


Born February 9, 1923, in Lodz, Poland; immigrated to Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 1950; daughter of Abraham and Sima Rosenfarb; married Henry Morgentaler, February 9, 1949 (divorced 1987); children: Goldie, Abraham. Education: Attended Jewish Teachers Seminary, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


Home—Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, and Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Agent—Bertha Klausner, 70 Park Ave., New York, NY.




P.E.N. International.


I.J. Segal Prize (Canada), 1972, and Niger Prize (Argentina), 1973, both for The Tree of Life; Manager Prize, 1979; Atran Prize, 1985; Sholem Aleichem Prize, 1990; Rosenfeld Prize, 1990; I.J. Segal Prize, 1993; Award of the American Association of Professors of Yiddish, 1998; John Glassco Prize, Literary Translation Association of Canada, 2000, for Bociany and Of Lodz and Love; Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Book Award, 2005, for Survivors: Seven Short Stories. Recipient of honorary degree from University of Lethbridge, 2006.


Ghetto Poems, M. Oved, 1947.

The Song of Abraham the Waiter, M. Oved, 1948.

Ghetto and Other Poems, Hershman (Montreal, Ontario, Canada), 1950.

The Bird of the Ghetto (play; first produced in Tel Aviv, Israel, at Habimah Theatre, 1967), [Montreal, Quebec, Canada], 1958.

Out of Paradise (poems), J.L. Peretz Publishing House (Tel Aviv, Israel), 1965.

The Tree of Life (trilogy), Hamenorah Publishing (Israel), 1972, translation by Rosenfarb and Goldie Morgentaler published as The Tree of Life: A Trilogy of Life in the Lodz Ghetto, Scribe (Melbourne, Australia), 1985, University of Wisconsin Press (Madison, WI), 2004.

Botshani (novel), Farlag Y.L. Perets (Tel Aviv, Israel), 1983, published as Bociany, Syracuse University Press (Syracuse, NY), 2000.

Briv tsu Abrashen (novel), Farlag Y.L. Perets (Tel Aviv, Israel), 1992.

Of Lodz and Love, Syracuse University Press (Syracuse, NY), 2000.

Survivors: Seven Short Stories, translated from the Yiddish by Goldie Morgentaler, Cormorant Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2004.

Poems and essays included in anthology, Di Goldene Keit, published in Tel Aviv.


Chawa Rosenfarb was born in Lodz, Poland. At the age of sixteen she lived in the Jewish ghetto and was eventually taken to concentration camps, first at Auschwitz and then Bergen Belsen. Rosenfarb survived World War II and eventually immigrated to Montreal, where she began a new life, both as a wife and mother and as a writer. She writes in her native Yiddish in an effort to keep the language alive, something that she identifies strongly with her lost childhood and family from before the war. A reviewer for the Jewish Toronto Web site quoted Rosenfarb as saying: "I write in Yiddish because it was the language of my home in Poland, it was the language of my childhood and community; it was the language I knew like the map of my own heart. To lose one's language is an unspeakably painful thing, especially for a writer." Rosenfarb has gone on to write essays, poetry, and fiction, all of which is heavily influenced by her experiences during World War II and in the ghetto. The Tree of Life, a trilogy that chronicles the fall of the ghetto in Lodz, Poland, where she grew up, and the destruction of life as she knew it at the hands of the Nazis, is perhaps her best-known work. She followed up with Bociany and Of Lodz and Love, linked novels she intended as a prequel of sorts to her trilogy. The books follow the experiences of Hindele and Yossele, as well as those of their son and daughter from previous marriages, from life in their small town in Poland on a shtetl to the more industrialized Lodz prior to the start of World War I. Leslie Cohen, reviewing Bociany for World Literature Today, found it "rich with information about Jewish customs and shtetl life." Molly Abramowitz, in a review of both books for Library Journal, remarked that "these two volumes present a superb panorama of Jewish transition from village life to the new challenges of the 20th century."



Library Journal, February 15, 2000, Molly Abramowitz, reviews of Bociany and Of Lodz and Love, p. 198.

World Literature Today, summer, 2000, Leslie Cohen, review of Bociany, p. 655.


Jewish Toronto, (September 30, 2007), biography of Chawa Rosenfarb.

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Rosenfarb, Chawa 1923–

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