Avigdor Hameiri


Rabbi Avigdor Hameiri (16 September 1890 – April 1970) was a Hebrew writer and poet.

His books describe World War I from the perspective of a Jewish officer. His poems, inter alia, criticize Israeli society. He was born in U Davidhazy (a village near Munkacs in Carpathian Ruthenia – today in the Ukraine) under the name of Avigdor Feuerstein, and attended a yeshiva and rabbinic seminary in Budapest, Hungary.

While in Hungary, his first poem, “Ben Atid,” was published in “HaMitzpeh,” edited by Shimon Menachem Lazar. From 1910 to 1912 he lived in Berlin and published his first book of poems. In 1914, he was drafted into the Austro-Hungarian army and participated in the First World War as an officer on the Austrian-Russian front. In 1916, he was taken prisoner by the Russians and sent to a prisoner camp in Siberia. He was released following the Russian revolution in February 1917, after which he moved to Kiev, and then to Odessa. In 1921, he immigrated to Palestine on board the ship “Ruslan”, as part of the Third Aliya.

In 1927, he founded and wrote most sketches of “HaKumkum”, the first Hebrew satirical theater. After its closure in 1928, he founded its successor – the “HaMatate” theater. In 1930, he published his book “The Great Madness” describing his experiences as an officer in the trenches of World War I.

In 1936, he was awarded a prize by the Bialik Institute for his book of poems. Until the end of his days, Hameiri kept publishing literary materials of all kinds: fiction, poetry, dramas, and translations. Between 1948 and 1958, he served as the chief stylist of the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) publications. In 1968, he won the Israel Prize in Literature.

Throughout his life, Hameiri opposed the Israeli political and literary establishments and confronted them at every opportunity. However, while during the 1920s and early 1930s, Hameiri held political views similar to those of the Revisionist movement, later his views changed, and he moved to the extreme, anti-Zionist left.