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Hillel Halkin

Hillel Halkin (born 1939) is an American-born Israeli translator, biographer, literary critic, and novelist, who has lived in Israel since 1970.


Hillel Halkin was born in New York City two months before the outbreak of World War II. He was the son of Abraham S. Halkin, then a professor of Jewish literature, history and culture at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America,[1] and his wife Shulamit, a daughter of Rabbi Meir Bar-Ilan.[2] In 1970 he made aliyah to Israel, settling in Zikhron Yaakov. He studied English Literature at Columbia University. [3]

Halkin is married to Marcia and the father of two daughters.[4]

Literary career

Halkin translates Hebrew and Yiddish literature into English. He has translated Sholem Aleichem's Tevye the Dairyman, and major Hebrew and Israeli novelists, among them Yosef Haim Brenner, S. Y. Agnon, Shulamith Hareven, A. B. Yehoshua, Amos Oz, and Meir Shalev.

His first original book was Letters to an American Jewish Friend: A Zionist's Polemic (1977). He expressed why American Jews should immigrate to Israel.[3]

Halkin’s second book, Across the Sabbath River (2002), is a work of travel literature in which he goes in search of the truth behind the mystery of the Ten Lost Tribes. He became increasingly interested in the Bnei Menashe, who began to immigrate to Israel from India in the late 20th century, and helped to arrange DNA testing in 2003 in Haifa.[5] Since then he has written A Strange Death, a novel based on the local history of Zikhron Ya'akov, where he resides. His intellectual biography of Yehuda Halevi won a 2010 National Jewish Book Award.[6]

In 2012, Halkin published his first novel, Melisande! What Are Dreams? The critic D. G. Myers described it as a “unique and moving study of marriage, a love letter to conjugal love.”[7]

In 2014, he published a new biography of Vladimir Jabotinsky.

Halkin writes frequently on Israel and Jewish culture and politics. His articles have been published in Commentary, The New Republic, The Jerusalem Post and other publications. Under the pseudonym "Philologos," he writes a bi-weekly column on Jewish languages in Mosaic Magazine.[8] He is a member of the editorial board of the Jewish Review of Books.

Published works




  1. ^ Hillel Halkin, "Either/Or: A Memoir," Commentary 122 (September 2006): 48–55.
  2. ^ url=
  3. ^ a b "Anglo translators first in a series like being the dance partner of the greatest dancer", Haaretz
  4. ^ "'A Strange Death' by Hillel Halkin", Commentary
  5. ^ Caryl Phillips, "The Disappeared," The New Republic (September 26, 2002).
  6. ^ Marc Tracy, "Halkin Wins National Jewish Book Award," Tablet, January 11, 2011.
  7. ^ D. G. Myers, "Let My People Go," Commentary 113 (April 2012): 69.
  8. ^ [Mosaic Magazine,]

External links