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Marcia Falk is a poet, translator, and artist who is widely known in the Jewish world for her groundbreaking poetic re-creations of Hebrew and English liturgy from a nonpatriarchal perspective. She is considered one of the foremothers of the Jewish feminist movement.
For the past three decades, Marcia has been working on projects that bring together her paintings, pastels, and drawings with her poems and other writings. In 2018, she published Inner East: Illuminated Poems and Blessings, about which artist Mark Podwal wrote: “Inner East is a marriage of word and image in which neither is subservient to the other. Falk’s beautiful images are poems in paint that do not merely illustrate her written words but illuminate them.”
Marcia is a Life Member of the Art Students League of New York, where she studied with Jean Liberté and Will Barnet. Her work has been exhibited in juried group shows and solo shows at galleries and universities in the United States and Israel. She received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Brandeis University and a PhD in English and comparative literature from Stanford. She was a Fulbright Scholar and later a postdoctoral fellow in Bible and Hebrew literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and was a university professor of literature, creative writing, and Jewish studies for two decades at Binghamton University, the Claremont Colleges, Hebrew Union College, and Stanford.
Marcia’s Hebrew and English prayer book, The Book of Blessings: New Jewish Prayers for Daily Life, the Sabbath, and the New Moon Holiday, originally published in 1996 and released in a 20th-anniversary special edition (CCAR Press), is used today by congregations in North America, Europe, and Israel. Excerpts from it appear in the prayer books of all the major non-Orthodox denominations in the States and Israel. The Days Between: Blessings, Prayers, and Directions of the Heart for the Jewish High Holiday Season (Brandeis University Press) followed in 2014.
In addition to her books of prayer, Marcia has published several volumes of poems and of translations from Hebrew and Yiddish. Poet Adrienne Rich has written: “Marcia Falk’s poems have the lucidity of etchings and the intensity of gemstones. . . . It’s always a thrill when (as rarely happens) the scholar’s mind and the poet’s soul come together.” Falk’s translation of the Song of Songs, first published in 1977, is today considered a modern classic. Nobel Laureate I. B. Singer said of it: “I thought until now that the Song of Songs could not be translated better than in the King James Version. Marcia Falk has great power in her language.” Among the twentieth-century poets she has translated are the Yiddish modernist Malka Heifetz Tussman and the Hebrew visionary Zelda.
A popular public speaker, Marcia has given talks and dramatic readings at synagogues, universities, and other venues across the country and in Israel. She is currently writing a new haggadah in poetic forms, which will be illustrated with her drawings. Entitled Night of Beginnings, it is scheduled to be published in time for Passover, 2022.