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Baron, Devorah (1887–1956)

Israeli novelist who wrote about life as a Jew in Russia. Name variations: Deborah Baron. Born in 1887 in Uzda, Russia; died in 1956 in Israel; daughter of a Russian rabbi; married Joseph Aharonovitz (a magazine editor).

Selected works:

(stories) Sipurim (1927); (episodes) Parshiyot (1968); The Thorny Patch (1969); also translated Flaubert's Madame Bovary.

In predominantly Christian Russia, small villages and encampments of Jews, centered around a rabbi or synagogue, grew into self-sufficient communities called shtetls. As the daughter of one such rabbi, Devorah Baron was intimately familiar with the people and movements of shtetls. Following her emigration from Russia to Palestine in 1911, she began publishing stories of shtetl life in the journal Ha-Po'el ha Za'ir (The Young Worker), edited by her soon-to-be-husband Joseph Aharonovitz. She also managed a literary supplement for Ha-Po'el but, in the four years following World War I, had to continue the work from Egypt as an exile. When she returned to Palestine, shtetl life in Eastern Europe had largely disappeared, but Baron kept the communities alive in three volumes of fiction. The latter two, Parshiyot and The Thorny Patch, were written from her bed, where she was confined for her last 20 years.

Crista Martin , freelance writer, Boston, Massachusetts

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