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Nechama Leibowitz

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Title: Nechama Leibowitz  
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Subject: Yeshayahu Leibowitz, Va'eira, Leibowitz, Israeli biblical scholars, List of Latvian women writers
Collection: 1905 Births, 1997 Deaths, Bialik Prize Recipients, Bible Commentators, German Biblical Scholars, German Emigrants to Israel, German Orthodox Jews, Humboldt University of Berlin Alumni, Israel Prize in Education Recipients, Israel Prize Women Recipients, Israeli Biblical Scholars, Israeli Educators, Israeli Orthodox Jews, Jewish Biblical Scholars, Jewish Educators, Jews in Mandatory Palestine, Latvian Emigrants to Germany, Latvian Emigrants to Israel, Latvian Orthodox Jews, People from Riga, People from the Governorate of Livonia, Tel Aviv University Alumni
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Nechama Leibowitz

Nechama Leibowitz (Hebrew: September 3, 1905 – 12 April 1997 ,נחמה ליבוביץ׳‎) was a noted Israeli Bible scholar and commentator who rekindled interest in Bible study.


  • Biography 1
  • Study sheets 2
  • Teaching style 3
  • Awards 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6
  • Further reading 7
  • See also 8


Nechama Leibowitz was born to an Orthodox Jewish family in Riga two years after her elder brother, the philosopher Yeshayahu Leibowitz. The family moved to Berlin in 1919. In 1930, Leibowitz received a doctorate from the University of Marburg for her thesis, Techniques in the Translations of German-Jewish Biblical Translations.[1] That same year 1930, she immigrated to Mandate Palestine. She taught at a religious Zionist teachers' seminar for the next twenty-five years. In 1957 she began lecturing at Tel Aviv University, and became a full professor eleven years later. She also gave classes at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and other educational institutions around the country. In addition to her writings, Leibowitz commented on the Torah readings regularly for the Voice of Israel radio station.[2]

She married her uncle, Yedidya Lipman Leibowitz. They had no children.[3]

Study sheets

In 1942, Leibowitz began mailing out stencils of questions on the weekly Torah reading to anyone who requested them. These worksheets, which she called gilyonot (pages) would be sent back to her, and she would personally review them and return them with corrections and comments.[4] They became very popular and in demand by people from all sectors of Israeli society. In 1954, Leibowitz began publishing her "Studies", which included many of the questions that appeared on her study sheets, along with selected traditional commentaries and her own notes on them. Over time, these studies were collected into five books, one for each book of the Torah..

The five books were subsequently translated into English by Rabbi Dr. Aryeh (Laibel/Leonard) Newman.

Teaching style

When asked to describe her methods she replied, "I have no derech... I only teach what the commentaries say. Nothing is my own.” [5] She was noted for her modest demeanor coupled with wry wit, and always preferred the title of "teacher" over the more prestigious "professor." In accordance with her request, "מורה" (morah, "teacher") is the only word inscribed on her tombstone.[6] She was strict on marking mistakes in Hebrew test papers, and hated the code-switching "Heblish" of some anglophone immigrants.[7]


  • In 1956, Leibowitz was awarded the Israel Prize in education,[8] for her work in furthering understanding and appreciation of the Bible.
  • In 1983, she was a co-recipient (jointly with Ephraim Elimelech Urbach) of the Bialik Prize for Jewish thought.[9]


  1. ^¤tResultId=nechama%2Bleibowitz%2526any¤tPosition=0
  2. ^ Nechama Leibowitz
  3. ^ A revolution of the old, Shoshana Kordova, Haaretz
  4. ^ [1] A revolution of the old, Shoshana Kordova, Haaretz
  5. ^ Bonchek, 1993, p.19
  6. ^ Reviews of Nehama Leibowitz: Teacher and Bible Scholar at the Wayback Machine (archived April 19, 2009)
  7. ^ Unterman 2009 p257 Heblish
  8. ^ "Israel Prize Official Site - Recipients in 1956 (in Hebrew)". 
  9. ^ "List of Bialik Prize recipients 1933-2004 (in Hebrew), Tel Aviv Municipality website" (PDF). 

External links

  • Biography of Nechama Leibowitz by the Jewish Agency
  • Nechama Leibowitz's insights on the parsha - discussions on the weekly Torah portion
  • IyunimReview of

Further reading

  • Leah Abramowitz, Tales of Nehama: Impressions of the Life and Teaching of Nehama Leibowitz. Gefen Publishing House, 2003. ISBN 965-229-295-8.
  • Shmuel Peerless, To Study and to Teach: The Methodology of Nechama Leibowitz. Urim Publications, 2005. ISBN 965-7108-55-1.
  • Yael Unterman, "Nehama Leibowitz: Teacher and Bible Scholar." Urim Publications, 2009. ISBN 978-965-524-019-1
  • Hayuta Deutsch, Nehama: The Life of Nehama Leibowitz Yedioth Ahronoth and Chemed Books, 2008

See also

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