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Bertha Hirsch Baruch

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bertha Hirsch Baruch was a German born American writer and suffragette.

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  • Poetry in Holocaust Education Part 4/4: "Heritage" by Haim Gouri


Haim Gouri was born in Palestine in 1923. He fought in Israel's War of Independence and then worked with survivors in Displaced Persons' Camps in Europe. He lives in Jerusalem. The ram came last of all. And Abraham did not know that it came to answer the boy's question -- first of his strength, when his day was on the wane. The old man raised his head. Seeing that it was no dream and that the angel stood there -- the knife slipped from his hand. The boy, released from his bonds, saw his father's back. Isaac, as the story goes, was not sacrificed. He lived for many years, saw what pleasure had to offer, until his eyesight dimmed. But he bequeathed that hour to his offspring. They are born with a knife in their hearts. One of the most relentless Bible stories that we have is from chapter 22 of the book of Genesis, and I'm talking about the sacrifice of Isaac. Artists have painted it, poets have aimed their pens at it, and it continues to engage us as we move into the 21st century. Haim Gouri was not living in Europe at the time of the Holocaust, he was living in Palestine, and in this poem "Heritage" he registers his shock at the murder of European Jews. The interesting thing about the poem, like in another famous poem by Dan Pagis, "Written in Pencil in a Freight-car", there is no mention - no direct mention - of the Holocaust. The main motif of this poem is connected to the name of the poem "Heritage". So the question is what heritage do we carry from the biblical story of the sacrifice of Isaac, or from the murder of six million Jews during the Holocaust? Now, Haim Gouri gives us his answer in the last two lines of the poem, when he uses the word "bequeathed", and he says that the subsequent generations have been bequeathed - and "they are born with a knife in their hearts." So this is a very difficult reading of the Holocaust, because basically what Haim Gouri is suggesting is that people were born with some kind of original wound. And of course everybody gives his own answer to this question, to what extent does Jewish history create an original wound in your composite personality.


Bertha Hirsch Baruch was born in the Province of Posen, Germany. She came to New London, Connecticut with her father in 1876. She wrote poetry in her teens and was encouraged by Rose Hawthorne Lathrop in her literary efforts. Active in College Settlement and Univ. Ext. work, she attended Pennsylvania University and Yale. She was on the editorial staff for the Los Angeles Times. In 1906 she lived at 1168 W. 36th St., Los Angeles, California.

Active in the women's suffrage movement, Mrs. Baruch was the county president of the Los Angeles Suffrage Association in 1905 when two conventions were hosted:

  • the Women’s Parliament, October 10–11, and
  • the county convention of the Equal Suffrage League October 12.

In 1908 she was the treasurer of the Los Angeles Jewish Women’s Foreign Relief Association.


This page was last edited on 17 April 2018, at 05:19
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