Elisheva Bihobski

Elisheva Bihobski – September 20, 1888 – March 27 1949

Elisheva Bihobski was born in Spasek-Ryazansky a suburb of Ryazan in Russia the daughter of Ivan Zhirkov, a Protestant Christian who was first a teacher in a rural elementary school, later he became a merchant and publisher. Her mother who was Irish Catholic died when she was three. She was educated by her aunt in Moscow and later studied at a female college in Moscow. She graduated as a teacher in 1910.

In 1908, at the age of twenty, she became interested in languages the Hebrew and Yiddish, influenced by friends of the Jews. She studied Yiddish and Hebrew, translated from Hebrew to Russian, and after a while began writing original Hebrew songs. Her interest in Judaism brought her into contact with the writer Shimon Bychowski, with whom she became friends and later developed a romantic relationship, and the two married. She did not convert and remained a Christian.

In 1925, the couple immigrated to Eretz Israel. Elisheva published poetry in Hebrew , some original and some translated from Russian.

Tragedy struck her in 1932 when her husband died suddenly. She was left with an 8 year old daughter, Miriam. She sank into poverty and lived in a shack near Tel Aviv. Thanks to Haim Nachman Bialik, who turned to the management of the Israel Metz Foundation in New York, she received a monthly allowance of $15, which was the sole source of her existence.

During World War II, her daughter enlisted in the Women’s Auxiliary. She served in Egypt, where she met a British soldier, Danny Little, and married him in 1946. The two had three daughters. Elisheva was left completely alone. She wanted to go to Britain to visit her daughter and granddaughters, but her financial situation and poor health prevented this.

Elisheva died in 1949 in Tiberias, where she had moved to because of her arthritis. She was buried in the Kinneret Cemetery.

Here I will sit between sea
and sky and earth,
because the end has also come.
Because my soul has found her homeland