Art and Culture
Hayim Nahman Bialik
The Jewish poet, Hayim Nahman Bialik, who wrote primarily in Hebrew, was born in 1873 in Ivnytsya, then part of the Russian Empire. Bialik played a pivotal role in the revival of the Hebrew language and is celebrated as Israel's national poet. He founded the Dvir publishing house in 1919 in Odessa, which he relocated to Israel in 1924, which, following several mergers, operates today as Kinneret Zmora-Bitan Dvir. He visited Palestine for the first time in 1909 and moved to the area in 1924, already a celebrated literary figure. He delivered the address at the opening of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and was on the school’s board. He died in Vienna in 1934.
Rachel Bluwstein
Affectionately known as, "Rachel the Poetess," Rachel Bluwstein was the Hebrew-language writer born in Saratov in the Russian Empire in 1890. She began writing poetry at the age of 15. She visited Palestine for the first time with her sister at 19, where they worked in the orchards of Rehovot and later moved to Kvutzat Kinneret on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Bluwstein left Palestine for France in 1913 to study agronomy and drawing, with plans to return immediately after her studies. However, when World War I broke out, she was unable to return until around 1919. Bluwstein, who suffered from tuberculosis, died at the age of 40 in 1931.
Marina Maximilian Blumin
Born in 1987 in Ukraine, Marina Maximilian Blumin made aliyah at the age of three with her family. From early childhood, she studied piano with her mother, sang in a choir and later attended the conservatory where her mother taught. She began performing at jazz clubs at the age of 15, including at the prestigious Red Sea Jazz Festival in Eilat, and came to national prominence in 2007 when she took part in the Kochav Nolad (“A Star Is Born”) reality TV singing competition. Marina Maximilian pursues her career as a singer, songwriter and actress, performing in several languages and different styles, and has been called an “Israeli vocal powerhouse” for her unique voice and abilities. In 2014, she was named "Woman of the Year in Music" by GLGLZ, Israel's leading and most popular radio station.
Michail Grobman
The avant-garde artist, Michail Grobman, was born in Moscow in 1939 and moved to Israel in 1971. Since 1983, he's lived and made art in Tel Aviv. He was the co-recipient of the Dizengoff Prize for Painting in 2001. In the 1960’s, he was actively involved in the second Russian avant-garde movement in the Soviet Union. In 1975, Grobman founded the Russian-language Leviathan group and art periodical. Despite living in Israel for over 40 years, his art is very much reflective of that movement. His work combines Judaica with symbolism and metaphysics, which aims to show the richness of Jewish life.
Felix Kandel
The award-winning author, Felix Kandel, has penned plays, movie scripts and short stories. Born in 1932 in Moscow, Kandel was not deeply connected to his Jewish roots until after the Six-Day War. Witnessing that historic Jewish victory, he started considering moving to Israel. An active member of the Jewish Underground movement, including serving as one of the editors of the underground journal on Jewish culture Tarbut in the Soviet Union, Kandel was finally granted permission to come to Israel in 1977. Within months, Kandel became a reporter for the Voice of Israel radio station. Kandel began what is today his most famous work in 1987, writing a history of the Jews that lived in the territories comprising the Russian Empire. The six-volume Books of Times and Events was published in Russia in 1994.
Zvi Preigerzon
Born in the Ukrainian town of Shepetivka in 1900, Zvi Preigerzon has made a unique contribution to the treasure of modern Hebrew literature. Preigerzon attended the Herzliya Hebrew Gymnasium for one year before World War I and continued his education under the tutelage of Hayim Nahman Bialik. After the Russian revolution, Preigerzon first became a student, then a professor and finally a dean of the Moscow State Mining Academy. His Hebrew stories were published outside of the USSR, and when this became dangerous, he continued to write in secret. In 1949, Preigerzon was arrested and sent to the gulag, where he taught many young Jews Hebrew and Jewish literature. He was liberated and returned to his work, but writing remained his primary passion, focusing on the horrors of the Holocaust and the plight of the Jewish people. In the early 1960’s, his works became available to Israeli readers under the pen name “A. Tsfoni.” He intended to make aliyah, but died in 1969 from a heart attack. His ashes were buried in Israel in June 1970.
Hanna Rovina
Born in 1888 in Berezino, in the Minsk district of the Russian Empire in what is today Belarus, Hanna Rovina is known for cofounding Israel's Habima National Theater. Habima was first started in Russia in 1917 by Rovina and her Russian friends and colleagues. Their first performance took place in October 1918, in which Rovina played the role of a mother in a play by Sholem Asch. Rovina became an acting legend for her role as Leah, the young woman whose body is inhabited by the spirit of her deceased lover, in S. Ansky’s The Dybbuk. She first played the part in 1922 and appeared in every revival of The Dybbuk from then until 1957. Rovina remained with Habima until the end of her life. She died in 1976 at the age of 88.
Dina Rubina
Born in 1953 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Dina Rubina was first published at the young age of 16 in a Russian journal. With her work translated into 30 languages, Rubina is best known today for her short stories and novels, many of which incorporate her own life stories. Her work centers on art, music, her native Tashkent and Israel, where she has lived since 1990. On the Sunny Side of the Street, her novel set in Tashkent, is one of her most critically acclaimed works and was a finalist for the Big Book and Russian Booker prizes. She also won third place in the Russian Prize in 2010 for White Dove of Cordoba, while several other of her works, like On Upper Maslovka, were adapted for the big screen.