A German Island in Israel: Lea Goldberg and Tuvia Rübner’s Republic of Letters

Giddon Ticotsky 1
  • 1 Department of Comparative Literature, DLCL, Stanford University, Pigott Hall, Building 260, Room 302B, 450 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
Giddon Ticotsky


This article focuses on the intellectual relationship between two leading Hebrew-European poets as revealed in their recently discovered extensive correspondence. Beyond the significant biographical revelations offered by their letters – among which is Tuvia Rübner’s transition from writing in German to Hebrew – their correspondence (mainly during the years 1949–1969) sheds light on the complexities of the two poets’ position as European artists in nascent Israeli culture. It raises questions of cultural homeland and exile, of the idealization of pre-war Central-Western European culture, and of the agency of the periphery in preserving the values of a declining cultural center. Lea Goldberg and Tuvia Rübner were migrants from the relatively close periphery of German culture who sought to reconstruct something of its intellectual center in the temporally and spatially distant periphery of postwar Israel. In their literary works, the two built bridges between the two cultures at a time when contacts between them were largely considered taboo. Among other aspects, Goldberg and Rübner’s correspondence reveals their nuanced attitudes toward German culture amid the complex multicultural milieu of the State of Israel’s formative years.

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Naharaim is a peer-reviewed journal of the Franz Rosenzweig Minerva Research Centre at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. It is devoted to current research in philosophical, literary, and historical aspects of German-Jewish culture. The contributions are mainly in German or English.