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Uri Zvi Greenberg

אורי צבי גרינברג

Uri Zvi Greenberg, byname Tur Malka (1896-1981), was born in Bialykamien, Galicia, to a Hassidic family and received a traditional Hassidic education. His early poems, both in Hebrew and in Yiddish, were published in 1912. In 1915 he was drafted into the Austrian army and fought in World War I. In 1917 he deserted and returned to Lvov, where he witnessed the Polish pogroms against the Jews in 1918.
As a newspaper editor in Warsaw in the 1920s, Greenberg warned Poland’s Jews of impending disaster. In 1923, he immigrated to Tel Aviv. He became a revisionist, rejecting all suggestions for territorial compromise in the region and joined the struggle to end the British occupation. He stressed the importance of the revival of the Hebrew language.

Uri Zvi Greenberg saw himself as a prophet destined to warn the Jewish people of a fate they refused to recognize. Haunted by his experience of pogroms, Arab rioting in the pre-State period and the horror of the Holocaust, his poetry urges the mobilization of all available resources to avoid repetiting the historic tragedies of his people.

Written in rich language and a fiery style, Greenberg’s poetry expresses the love, hate, fury and joy of a stormy spirit. Widely commended for his expressive power and linguistic prowess, he calls on physical images from the landscape of Poland and his chosen homeland, as well as elements of the entire scope of Jewish history, to articulate his particular vision. Often a figure of controversy, alternately criticized and praised for being a mystic, Greenberg is widely recognized as one of the greatest modern Hebrew poets. He received honorary doctorates from Yeshiva, Bar Ilan and Tel Aviv Universities, and many literary awards, including the 1957 Israel Prize.

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