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Shirley Kaufman Daleski

1923 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
Shirley Kaufman Daleski Obituary
Shirley Kaufman Daleski

1923 - 2016

Poet and translator Shirley Kaufman Daleski died peacefully Sept 25, 2016 from Alzheimer's disease at the age of 93. She was born in Seattle WA, graduated from UCLA, married Dr. Bernard Kaufman Jr, and raised her three daughters with him in San Francisco. She went back to school at San Francisco State University to complete a master's degree in creative writing and became part of the vibrant poetry scene of the city in the 1960's. A life-long Zionist, she moved to Israel in 1973 where she made a home for 37 years in Jerusalem with her second husband Professor Hillel (Bill) Daleski. After his death she returned to the Bay Area in 2011 to be with her daughters, grandchildren, and great-grandson.
She won the United States Award of the International Poetry Forum for her first book of poems in 1969. Among her many awards were grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Rockefeller Foundation residency at Bellagio, the Pushcart Prize, the Shelley Memorial Award for lifetime achievement from the Poetry Society of America, and the Israel President's Prize for literature by a writer in English.
She published nine books of poetry, most recently Ezekiel's Wheels in 2009. A volume of her selected poems translated by Aharon Shabtai was published in Hebrew and a bilingual volume of her poetry translated by Claude Vigee was published in France. Her work has been praised in The Nation as "progressive, passionate and unfailingly feminist."
She also distinguished herself as a translator from Hebrew into English of Israel's leading poets, among them Abba Kovner and Meir Wieseltier. In 1999 The Feminist Press published The Defiant Muse, a bilingual collection of feminist Hebrew poetry from the Bible to the present, edited by Shirley Kaufman, Galit Hasan-Rokem and Tamar Hess, with many translations by Kaufman.
Kaufman read her works for the Academy of American Poets, the Library of Congress, the Poetry Center of the 92nd St. Y in New York, and many other centers and universities thoughout the United States, and at poetry festivals worldwide. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including American Poetry Review, The New Yorker, The Nation, The Paris Review, The Pushcart Prize Collection, and The Norton Book of American Jewish Literature.
She is survived by her three daughters - Sharon Kaufman and husband Seth Kaufman, Rabia Van Hattum and husband Benjamin Van Hattum, and Deborah Kaufman and husband Alan Snitow – nine grandchildren, and one great grandson. There will be a private ceremony for the immediate family. A memorial in the coming months will be announced. Donations in her memory may be made to the New Israel Fund.


Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Oct. 2, 2016
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