Wednesday 29 May 2019


ANNA RAPPORT (b. August 15, 1870)[1]
            A poetess, she was born in Kovno; her name at birth was Asnes Kalmanovitsh.  Her father was a follower of the Jewish Enlightenment, and his brother was the well-known Dvinsk rabbi, Meyer-Simkhe Hacohen.  She graduated from high school in Kovno.  In her youth she belonged to a Zionist group “Banot Tsiyon” (Daughters of Zion) In 1890 she made her way to the United States, accepted her brother’s changed name Zif (her mother’s maiden name), and for many years worked in sweatshops.  Over the years 1897-1905, she lived in Bayonne, New Jersey, later in Massachusetts, and from 1912 in New York.  She debuted in print, using the pen name Anna Zif, with a poem in Arbayter tsaytung (Workers’ newspaper).  She published there and in Folks-advokat (People’s advocate) poetry between September 1, 1893 and January 19, 1894.  After a break of nine years, she wrote poems (1903-1909) for Tsukunft (Future) and Forverts (Forward) in New York.  Her work appeared as well in: Morris Basin, Antologye, 500 yor yidishe poezye (Anthology, 500 years of Yiddish poetry), vol. 2 (New York, 1917); Ezra Korman, Yidishe dikhterins, antologye (Female Yiddish poets, anthology) (Chicago: L. M. Shteyn, 1928); and Nakhmen Mayzil, Amerike in yidishn vort (America in the Yiddish word) (New York, 1955).  She later withdrew from Yiddish literature.  Over the years 1911-1917, she contributed to the socialist The Call.  Rapport was among the Yiddish poet-pioneers in America.  Most of her poetry was of social content.  Only in one of her poems, entitled “Tkhies-hameysim” (Resurrection of the dead), she speaks of a Jew who “feels as though he is no more than a slave.”  “Overall we see in Anna Rapport’s poetry,” wrote N. B. Minkov, “the transition from subjective social poems to objective descriptions, didactic works, and poems of appeal…and finally—humanistic, rationalist considerations.”

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4, under “Anna Rapoport”; Nokhum-Borekh Minkov, Pyonern fun der yidisher poezye in amerike (Pioneers of Yiddish poetry in America), vol. 3 (New York, 1956).
Berl Cohen

[1] Her name and date of birth follow N. B. Minkov, Pyonern fun der yidisher poezye in amerike (Pioneers of Yiddish poetry in America), vol. 3 (New York, 1956); according to Ezra Korman, Morris Basin, and Zalmen Reyzen, she was born in 1876.

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