Rena Lee (Kofman) poet, author and literary researcher was born in Bialystock, Poland on March 14th 1932 and grew up in Tel Aviv. She studied law at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, receiving the degree of Master of Law.
After moving to New York with her husband Absalom she studied at the Jewish Theological Seminar receiving a doctorate in Hebrew literature in 1975. Rena Lee was the Professor of Hebrew Literature in Queens College NY for 18 years.
Rena wrote poetry, prose and researched Hebrew literature and was published extensively in the USA and Israel.
Many of Rena’s poems and some of her short stories in English have been published in Cyclamens and Swords, the last publication by us as recently as April 2013.
Rena Lee Kofman died in New York on August 12th 2013 leaving her husband, two sons and her grandchildren.
Rena’s final poem in Hebrew was written three days before she died – her handwritten copy is reproduced below. An English translation follows.
We at Cyclamens and Swords mourn the passing of Rena Lee and extend our condolences to her husband and family.
So where are they
all those beautiful encounters
that were not born
Do they still wait for redemption?
Where are they all those
destined for us,
whose time has not yet come?
Is there still any point
waiting for them,
our trust in them?
are there odds here in our favor
as has been said by lottery
The wisest of times ?
We always wait for them,
and they wait for us.
Our time and their time
entangled together and flee.
Together they are fleeing
far from there and from here
and from the now,
Fleeing, fleeing, eternally on the run
Meantime,we are in a world
that it’s not yet a world.
Waiting for them to come...
The General Union of Writers in Israel has announced a prize of $5000 in memory of Rena Lee to be awarded to the author of a book in Hebrew - see announcement: