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  • Mindy Rubenstein

Spotlight on Nehamah Pukhachewsky: A Pioneer of Jewish Feminist Literature





"It is through the pen that we can unveil truths hidden beneath the surface of society, and it is through our words that we can ignite the flames of change."

— Nehamah Pukhachewsky



By Mindy Rubenstein


In the center of Zichron Yaakov, next to the First Aliyah Museum, a unique tribute to Nehamah Pukhachewsky hangs on the external wall of the adjacent building, unseen by passersby. To find it, one must know it's there.


A local Israeli artist, Avital Bar Shai, has immortalized Nehamah in this portrait now adorning the building in Zichron’s Midrahov (downtown pedestrian path). This art not only honors Pukhachewsky's legacy but also symbolizes the importance of recognizing the voices of women from the past who expressed themselves creatively.


Born in 1869 in Lithuania, Nehamah’s parents instilled in her a deep connection to Hebrew and Torah (Bible), fostering both her religious identity and educational diligence. In 1889, Nehamah and her husband Michael embarked on a journey to the Land of Israel, sponsored by Baron Edmond de Rothschild.


Their settlement in the land marked the beginning of Nehamah's multifaceted life. While raising two children, she embarked on a path of advocacy, writing, and community involvement.


Her contributions were diverse -- from farming to writing for Hebrew journals. But it was her advocacy for women's rights and her literary endeavors that really distinguished her.


Nehamah’s writing was not just a means of expression but a platform for advocacy. Through her short stories, she addressed feminist issues such as economic independence and Jewish divorce law. 


Her works, written in both English and Hebrew, provided deep insights into daily life in the Land of Israel during the First Aliyah, offering a perspective often overlooked in historical narratives.


She boldly challenged societal norms and injustices, using her pen as a tool for empowerment and social change. Her words shed light on the complexities of gender dynamics and the struggle for dignity and respect.



"It is puzzling, the tendency of men to love and hate at the same time, to pursue a woman and seek intimacy with her and at the same time to trample on her dignity."

— Nehamah Pukhachewsky


From an early age, Nehamah began writing articles and stories for Hebrew journals, often under the pen name “Nefesh.”


Among the most significant pieces at this early stage was an article published in Ha-Meliz (“More on the Question of Daughters,” 1889), which advocated Jewish education for girls.


Other important articles included a rejoinder, published in Ha-Shiloah (1908), to a controversial article by Izhac Epstein (1862–1943) about the acquisition of Arab lands in Palestine, “The Obscure Question.”


Despite facing criticism and encountering obstacles, Nehamah persisted in amplifying the voices of Jewish women. Her literary legacy continues to inspire and resonate, reminding us of the importance of giving voice to those who have been marginalized or overlooked.


The portrait of Nehamah by artist Avital Bar Shai serves as a poignant tribute to her enduring influence. It is a reminder of the power of art to immortalize and celebrate the contributions of remarkable individuals.


In honoring Nehamah Pukhachewsky and other women of the past and present, the First Aliyah Museum celebrates the richness of Jewish history and the diverse female voices that have shaped it. Through art, literature, and advocacy, these women have left an indelible mark on society, inspiring future generations to continue to speak out for equality and justice.



"For it is a contradiction in terms—to despise the one you love, the one with whom your life is bound up, with whom you establish your family and your position and build your future."

— Nehamah Pukhachewsky



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Address: 2, Hanadiv st. , Zikhron Ya'akov

Phone: 04-6294888

P.o.box 10, Zikhron Ya'akov 3095001

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