Malka Lee

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Malka Lee' (Yiddish: מלכה לי) (July 4, 1904 – March 22, 1976) was an American poet. She is the author of Durkh Kindershe Oygn (Through the Eyes of Childhood), published in 1955 and dedicated to her family, who were killed by the Nazis in the shtetl of Monastrishtsh (now Monastyryska, Ukraine) in 1941, as well as six volumes of poetry in Yiddish, her mother tongue, much of it about her experience of observing the Holocaust from the safety of the United States.

Personal life[edit]

Lee was born into a Hasidic family in Monastrishtsh, Galicia. With her parents Frieda Duhl and Chaim Leopold, she fled to Vienna during World War I, and after returning to Poland after the war, she emigrated to New York in 1921, where she attended Hunter College and the Jewish Teachers Seminary.

She married writer Aaron Rappaport, with whom she had two children, Joseph and Yvette. After Rappaport's death, she married Moshe Besser in 1966.


Her first published poem appeared in 1922, and she continued to write until 1972. Her poetry between 1945 and 1950 is about the pain of watching from a distance as her childhood home and family were destroyed during the Holocaust. One of her bronthers, Aaron Leopold survived the holoaust as a soldier in the Russian army. She helped Aaron and his wife Dina to emigrate to Canada as the United States had closed their doors to many immigrants after the war. Later poems expressed her love of Israel and America, and her devotion to Zionism.


  • Durkh Kindershe Oygn (1955)
  • Durkh Loytere Kvaln (1950)
  • Gezangen (1940)
  • In Lukht fun Doyres (1961)
  • Kines fun Undzer Tsayt (1945)
  • Lider (1932)
  • Mayselekh far Yoselen (1969)
  • Untern Nusnboym (1969)


  • Hyman, Paula E. & Dash Moore, Deborah. Jewish Women in America, Vol I. Routledge, 1977. ISBN 0-415-91934-7