'Girls' creator Lena Dunham says Israeli poetry helps her connect to Judaism

By
October 5, 2017 14:04

Lena Dunham confesses her love for the works of Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai, which she says have helped her connect to her Jewish roots.

3 minute read.



Lena Dunham

Lena Dunham arrives at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala Benefit in Manhattan.. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Lena Dunham, the creator, writer and star of the widely-debated hit HBO series Girls who has dubbed herself but was also called by others "the voice of her generation" revealed this week that she has taken to reading Israeli poetry to help her connect to her Jewish roots.

Dunham, whose mother is Jewish and whose father is a Protestant, took to social media as she often does to express her innermost thoughts. This time, on the eve of Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of fast dedicated to reflection and atonement, the Emmy-winning actress devoted an Instagram post shared with her 3.2 million followers to her latest musings about Judaism.

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Dunham divulged that after her grandmother's passing earlier in the year she felt the need to explore her connection to the religion she shared with her late grandmother, and found inspiration in the poems of none other than internationally acclaimed, award-winning Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai.

German-born Amichai, who died in 2000, is considered to be Israel's greatest modern poet and is also the first one to write poetry in colloquial Hebrew. For that reason, he has often been praised as an artist who helped revive and shape the Hebrew language as it evolved in the six decades that have lapsed since Israel's establishment.

"This past year a special person helped me connect to my Judaism in a new way, beyond bagels and sample sales and crushing guilt," the star quipped. "After my grandmother Dorothy died, I suddenly felt a desire to understand what the religion that meant so much to her had to offer her granddaughter."


Dunham admitted that while she didn't take on common Jewish traditions, she did look to Hebrew poetry to evoke a spiritual connection to her Jewish heritage. "While I've learned a lot, I haven't started going to temple. I haven't married a lawyer. But I have fallen in love with the poetry of Yehuda Amicahi," she revealed, before continuing to joke that "I am sorry to anyone I wronged this year (except for some people on Twitter)."

The image Dunham chose to accompany her confessional text was a picture of an open book displaying Amichai's poem "People Use Each Other" next to its Hebrew original. The poem she picked is part of Amichai's 'Love Poems,' a book which offers select poems by Amichai and displays the Hebrew originals side by side with the English translations.

"People Use Each Other," which deals with the themes of love, human relations, pain and loss, seems especially befitting to the timing of Dunham's post, which she put up ahead of a day centering around introspection and forgiveness. "People use each other as a healing for their pain," Amichai wrote. "They put each other on their existential wounds... they hold each other and won't let go."

Many related to Dunham's post and to Amichai's stirring words, with the post garnering thousands of likes and followers wishing the actress Shana Tova (happy new year in Hebrew) and Chatima Tova.

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