Zelda Schneurson (later Mishkovsky) was born in Słupsk, Poland, the daughter of Sholom Shneerson and Rachel Hen. Her father was the great-great grandson of the third Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, also known as the Tzemach Tzedek. The family settled in Jerusalem in 1926. Her mother, Rachel Hen, was a daughter of Rabbi Dovid Tzvi Chen of Chernigov and a descendant of the Sephardic dynasty of Hen-Gracian, which traces its roots to 11th century Barcelona.
Zelda attended a religious school for girls in British Palestine, and then studied at the Teachers' College of the Mizrachi movement. After graduating in 1932, she moved to Tel Aviv and then to Haifa, where she taught until her return to Jerusalem in 1935. In Jerusalem, she also worked as a schoolteacher. In 1950 she married Hayim Mishkovsky and from then on devoted herself to writing. One of her students was Amos Klausner, later the novelist Amos Oz, who writes in his memoir A Tale of Love and Darkness that he had a schoolboy crush on her. Years after graduation, he visited her at home (she was still living at the same address) and was deeply touched that she still remembered how he liked her lemonade.
Penai (Free Time), her first collection of poetry, was published in 1967. With its emotive and contemplative images drawn from the world of Jewish mysticism, Hasidism, and Russian fairy tales, this collection established her reputation in the literary world. Her poems, highly spiritual but at same time very direct, colorful, and precise, touched the hearts of religious and secular alike. Zelda's poetry is imbued with deep faith, free of the doubt and irony that sometimes permeates the work of other modern Hebrew poets. Her poems reflect her abiding faith - for example in Kaasher berakhti 'al hanerot - "When I said the blessing over the Shabbat candles" כאשר ברכתי על הנרות.
Awards and recognition
- In 1971, Zelda won the Brenner Prize;
- In 1978, she was awarded the Bialik Prize for Literature;
- In 1982, she won the Wertheim Prize.
- Ha-Carmel ha-Ee Nireh (The Invisible Carmel) (1971)
- Al Tirhak (Be Not Far) (1975)
- Halo Har Halo Esh (It Is Surely a Mountain, It Is Surely a Fire (1977)
- Al ha-Shoni ha-Marhiv (On the Spectacular Difference) (1981)
- Shenivdelu Mikol Merhaq (That Became Separated from Every Distance) (1985)
- The Spectacular Difference: Selected Poems of Zelda, translated, with introduction and notes, by Marcia Falk (2004)
- Israeli women poets
- Ada Aharoni
- Karen Alkalay-Gut
- Raquel Chalfi
- Hava Pinchas-Cohen
- Janice Rebibo
- Naomi Shemer
- Yona Wallach
- Lubavitch, Chabad. "Zelda: Remembering an Israeli Poet".
- "FindArticles.com - CBSi". findarticles.com.
- Amos Oz, A Tale of Love and Darkness, London 2004, pp.274 - 293.
- Miller, Chaim. Turning Judaism Outward. Kol Menachem. New York. (2014): pp. 431.
- The Modern Hebrew Poem Itself
- "The Spectacular Difference: Selected Poems of Zelda - Hebrew Union College Press".
- "List of Bialik Prize recipients 1933-2004, Tel Aviv Municipality website (in Hebrew)" (PDF).
- The Modern Hebrew Poem Itself (2003), ISBN 0-8143-2485-1
- Amos Oz, A Tale of Love and Darkness (2004), ISBN 0-15-100878-7