TOVA YANAYI- A Biographical note

Tova Yanayi, an Israeli citizen, was born in Bratislava, Czecho-Slovakia, in 1927. Her schooling, her normal way of life as a young girl were brutally interrupted in 1942 when the persecution of the Jews began. Her father, a journalist, her mother, most members of her family and almost all her school-mates perished in death-camps. She escaped their fate as living as a vagabond and outlaw. Decades later, she described some of her adventures in a series of short stories.

After the second World War she emigrated to Israel. Uprooted from the culture that had once been so dear to her and unable to master the Hebrew language properly, she turned to another way of expression, painting. Her pictures, mostly collages, were exhibited in Jerusalem, Paris, and London.

Meanwhile she studied English and received her Cambridge Diploma of English Studies in 1971. For the last fifteen years she had been a teacher in a technological institute for adults.

She is married, has a son and two grandsons, twins, for whom she has just written her first children’s story.

The play “Cracks in the Ice” was written after her maternal aunt, Aurelia Pollack, died in 1985. T. Yanay writes about her as follows: The old lady used to receive visitors – an astonishing bunch of elderly woman who called themselves “The girls from the Polit. Dep.”, all of them Auschwitz survivors, all of them former typists and secretaries in that infamous SS department.

Needless to say what these women were talking about during their gatherings. My aunt had an extraordinary memory for details, power of expression and a talent for imitating for voices, which fascinated her friends. Certain SS-men were almost physically present in our living-room, and they stayed on even after my aunt’s death. They went on clamoring for my attention. They made me read my aunt’s memoirs which I had refused to touch before. The ghost of the past became more vivid than ever, and the only way I can think up how to detach myself from the Political Department was to put it on stage.


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