Malka Lee

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Malka Lee (Yiddish: מלכה לי) (July 4, 1904 – March 22, 1976[1]) was an American poet and author. 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. After the war, the family returned to Poland. Lee then 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 (b. 1924) and Yvette (b.1937). Lee and Rappaport owned and managed a bungalow colony in High Falls, New York, where many Yiddish intellectuals and writers came together. After Rappaport's death in 1966, Lee married Moshe Besser.

Malka Lee died in New York on March 22, 1976.


Lee wrote in German as a young girl, but switched to Yiddish when she emigrated to the United States in 1921. 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 brothers, Aaron Leopold survived the Holocaust as a soldier in the Soviet 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. Other poems expressed her intimate feelings, her joy in life and nature, and national themes such as love of the Yiddish language, Israel and America, and her devotion to Zionism.

A short autobiographic article published in July 1927 in the Yiddish leftwing newspaper Frayhayt was later expanded into a book of memoirs entitled Durkh Kindershe Oygn (Through the eyes of childhood) (1955) and dedicated to her family, shot by the Germans in Monastrishtsh in 1941. A portion of this work was translated into English in the book Found Treasures: Stories by Yiddish Women Writers (1994). Her other volume of prose, Mayselekh far Yoselen (Little stories for Yosel) (1969), is a book of short stories and fables for children.


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


  1. ^ Swartz, Sarah Silberstein. "Malka Lee". Jewish Women A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved 2014-05-05.
  • Hyman, Paula E. & Dash Moore, Deborah. Jewish Women in America, Vol I. Routledge, 1977. ISBN 0-415-91934-7

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