Jewish Studies Devorah Baron
Shachar Pinsker
  • LAST MODIFIED: 22 August 2023
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199840731-0232


Devorah Baron (also known as Dvorah or Dvora Baron, b. 1887–d. 1956) was a writer of Hebrew and Yiddish fiction, an editor, and a translator. Today, she is recognized mostly as master of Hebrew short stories who illuminated modernity and gender from a female perspective. Baron was part of a new generation of Hebrew writers who began to write in the early twentieth century, and the only woman to be part of its canon. She was born in Ouzda, a small town near Minsk. Her father, Shabtai Eliezer Baron, was the town’s rabbi, and he raised his daughter in an unusual way, allowing her to study the texts of the traditional yeshiva curriculum that was reserved for men. Baron began publishing stories in the Hebrew and Yiddish press at the age of fifteen (in 1902), just before she left home to acquire a secular education. After spending some years in major Jewish cities in the Pale of Settlement (including Kovno, Mariompol, and Vilna), she immigrated to Ottoman Palestine in December 1910. In Palestine, she met and married Yoseph Aharonovich, who was a Zionist activist and the editor of the journal of Labor Zionism, Ha-Poel ha-Tza’ir (The young laborer). Baron became the editor of the literary supplement of this prominent publication. In 1914, Dvora Baron, her husband, and their daughter Tzipora were exiled to Egypt by the Ottoman authorities. They returned to Palestine only after the end of World War I, in 1919. Throughout this period, she published her early stories in the Hebrew and Yiddish press, but later renounced them, refusing to collect and republish them. From 1923, after Baron and her husband resigned from Ha-Po'el ha-Tza’ir, she confined herself to her apartment in Tel Aviv, which she almost never left until the time of her death in 1956. During this long period of seclusion, Baron wrote what is considered to be the more significant and mature part of her literary work, which consists of some eighty short stories and a few longer novellas, as well as a celebrated translation of Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, (1932), as well as other short stories by various European writers. Baron published her first book collection: Stories (Sipurim) only in 1927. In 1934, she won the prestigious Bialik Prize. She won the Rupin Prize, for her novella For the Time Being (Le-'Et ‘Ata, 1943), which treated the subject of the exile of foreign nationals from the Jewish settlements in Palestine during World War I. Baron’s most comprehensive collection of stories, entitled Parshiyot (Tales, 1951) received broad recognition and multiple honors, including the Brenner Hebrew literary prize. Additional collections of Baron’s work were published in Hebrew during her lifetime and posthumously.


While we lack a comprehensive biography of Baron, Aharonovitz 1960 is good place to start. Govrin 1988 provides a detailed biography of Baron, from her birth to 1923. Lieblich 1997 is an experimental “psychobiography” of Baron. Jelen 2007 (cited under Criticism and Scholarship) provides additional bibliographic information.

  • Aharonovitz, Zipporah. Agav Orha. Merhavyah, Israel: Sifriyat Poalim, 1960.

    A valuable collection of episodes from Baron’s life, as well as recollections and letters from family members and friends.

  • Govrin, Nurit. Ha-Maḥatsit ha-rishonah: Devorah Baron—ḥayehah ṿi-yetsiratah (1887–1923). Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 1988.

    A detailed biography of the first half of Baron’s life, from her birth until the point at which she resigned from public life in 1923. It contains a thorough review of the early stories Baron wrote in Hebrew and Yiddish.

  • Lieblich, Amia. Conversations with Dvora: An Experimental Biography of the First Modern Hebrew Woman Writer. Translated by Naomi Seidman. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.

    Written as twenty-four fictional conversations between Baron and Lieblich, which could have taken place during Baron’s last year of life in Tel Aviv. Using the available historical evidence, and assuming the autobiographical nature of most of her stories, Lieblich reconstructed Baron’s life story, cultural background, views and experiences. Original Hebrew publication in 1992.

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