Poet Laureate in Tel Aviv

By Ilana Teitelbaum

Published January 16, 2008, issue of January 18, 2008.
  • Print
  • Share Share

This past week, two-time poet laureate Robert Hass visited Israel for the first time in his life. He jokes that he’s been fascinated with Israel ever since, as a child, he saw the movie “Exodus.” “I belong to the generation that grew up on Paul Newman and Sal Mineo,” he said. More seriously, Hass also says that with the exception of Russia’s St. Petersburg, Israel is the place he’s read the most about without ever having been there. Hass’s wife, Brenda Hillman, who is Jewish, worked on a kibbutz when she was in her early 20s, and her stories were another inspiration.

The San Francisco-based poet, who recently won the National Book Award and teaches at Berkeley University of California, Berkeley, was invited to Tel Aviv University to participate in an academic conference on the relationship between literature and the environment. Hass is a passionate environmental activist, and he utilized his status as poet laureate to promote environmental education in schools across America.

In Hass’s view, poetry grapples with the ethical questions that are posed by science. “Human beings have to know when they’ve gone too far,” Hass said. “How many wetlands for how many birds, and which birds? That is one of most important philosophical questions for the 21st century.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.