An astute reader noticed that two significant Jewish women writers who died in 2007 were not on our list of notable 2007 Jewish deaths. So, we will make up for the oversight.
Grace Paley (December 11, 1922 – August 22, 2007)
Born as Grace Goodside in the Bronx, Paley’s Jewish parents, Isaac and Manya Ridnyik Goodside, had Anglicizied the family name from Gutseit on immigrating from Ukraine. The family spoke Russian and Yiddish along with English. By far the youngest of the three Goodside children (sixteen and fourteen years younger than brother and sister Victor and Jeanne, respectively), Paley was a tomboy as a child, allowing her to investigate the conflicts and struggles of her immigrant neighborhood; these issues would later form the raw material for much of her fiction.
In 1938 and 1939, Paley attended Hunter College, then, briefly New York University, but she never received a degree. In the early 1940s, Paley studied with W.H. Auden at the New School for Social Research. Auden’s social concern and his heavy use of irony is often cited as an important influence on her early work, particularly her poetry.
She won many literary honors, including the Jewish Cultural Achievement Award for Literary Arts in 1994.
In a May 2007 interview with Vermont Woman newspaper – one of her last – Paley said of her dreams for her grandchildren: “It would be a world without militarism and racism and greed – and where women don’t have to fight for their place in the world.”
She died at home in Thetford, Vermont, on August 22, 2007, following a battle with breast cancer, aged 84.
Tillie Olsen (also from Wikipedia):
Tillie Lerner Olsen (January 14, 1912 – January 1, 2007) was an American writer associated with the political turmoil of 1930s and the first generation of American feminists.
Olsen was born to Russian Jewish immigrants in north Omaha, Nebraska, where she attended Lake School through the eighth grade. She dropped out of Omaha Central High School to enter the work force. Over the years Olsen worked in Omaha as a waitress, domestic worker, and meat trimmer. She was also a union organizer and political activist in the Socialist community. In the 1930s she was briefly a member of the American Communist party. She was briefly jailed in 1934 while organizing a packinghouse workers’ union, an experience she wrote about in The Nation and The Partisan Review. She later moved to Berkeley, California.
Olsen died on January 1, 2007, in Oakland, California.