Uri Felix Rosenheim
Scope and Content Note
The collection is composed overwhelmingly of Rosenheim’s poetry and prose works. One folder (box 7, folder 4) contains poems written by Walter Abish for Rosenheim. There is one box of letters to and from family members, intimate female friends, acquaintances, and colleagues. The information will be useful for those researching German Jews adjustment (or non-adjustment) to life in Israel. The diary entries in particular are rife with vibrant detail of everyday life in Israel in the 1930s, familial relations and occupations, as well as his personal descriptions of the multiethnic tensions, events transpiring in Europe and insightful reflections on the fraught German-Jewish relationship. According to an article by Walter Abish, Rosenheim lost his original diary at some point in time, afterwards attempting to reconstruct his writings, this explains the multiple diary drafts found in the collection and the tone, which resembles an autobiography more than a daily journal. His two published works, Verbannung (1968) and Leuchtkugeln (poems, published posthumously, 1974) can be found in the library.
See Inventory list
- Rosenheim, Uri Felix, 1913-1973 (Person)
Language of Materials
This collection is in German and Hebrew.
Collection is digitized. Follow the links in the Container List to access the digitized materials.
Collection is microfilmed - MF 976.
Readers may access the collection by visiting the Lillian Goldman Reading Room at the Center for Jewish History. We recommend reserving the collection in advance; please visit the LBI Online Catalog and click on the "Request" button.
There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact:
Leo Baeck Institute, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011
Felix Rosenheim (the Hebrew name “Uri” was adopted after moving to Israel) was born in Frankfurt am Main in 1912, the second youngest of nine children. His father, Jacob Rosenheim would eventually become the leader of the world movement of Agudas Israel, the political exponent of Torah Jewry. Felix, however, apparently found the numerous commandments restrictive and rebelled against the traditions promoted by his parents. After completing secondary education and attending, unwillingly, one of the famous Lithuanian Yeshivot, he took courses at the University of Kiel, studied carpentry in Birschheim (Strasbourg) and lived for some time in Brussels before deciding to make aliyah in 1936.
Self-described as having oversensitive and overstressed nerves, he sought to relieve his tensions in an ever-mounting outpouring of poetry and aphorisms. Completely absorbed by his creative urge and susceptible to nervous breakdowns, he failed to come to grips with the mundane task of making a living. His occasional jobs were mostly manual including carpentry, working at an orange orchard, a beer brewery, in advertising, and as the co-owner of a second-hand bookstore. Only in his later years did he gain some security as librarian in the multilingual Alliance high school in Tel Aviv.
In his private life, Rosenheim was a sensual and romantic personality, writing thousands of passionate poems dedicated to women with whom he was intimately involved. One of the most important was Ruth Lewy (1903-1956), whom he met in 1936 when she lived with his sister in Israel. Her sudden and premature death in 1956 cut short their close relationship of 18 years and left Felix devastated. In her memory he penned multiple (unpublished) volumes of poetry including Brunnen und Stern and In Wolken. Their motives for never marrying and terminating an earlier pregnancy are unclear; they evidently remained in close and intimate contact until Ruth’s death. Despite his many liaisons, Felix wed none of his youthful amours. Nevertheless, a few years prior to his death in 1973 of an unknown illness, he finally married Sonia (maiden name unknown).
In 1968 his book Verbannung (Exile) appeared to critical acclaim in German-speaking countries, but failed to reach a wide audience. He was a prolific writer, but he wrote almost exclusively in German, never comfortably shifting to either English or Hebrew, a fact which possibly contributed to his frustrated desire to achieve broader recognition. Embodying, in the words of friend and fellow-writer Walter Abish, the “eternal European,” he dealt with conflicts of identity throughout his life. While often referring to Israel as his Heimat and voicing relief at having escaped the “foreign civilization,” on the other hand he frequently rhapsodized on his longing for the cities, environment, and cultural milieu he knew in Europe and he remained devoted to the German classical literary and musical tradition throughout his life. Though he sought advice and support from such well-known authors as Stefan Zweig, Thomas Mann, Max Brod et al. and though his widow Sonia approached numerous publishers after Felix’s death, very little of his voluminous work has been published.
4 Linear Feet
The bulk of the collection consists of Uri Rosenheim's writings, mainly poetry, but also prose. It also includes correspondence with family members and other authors as well as publishers.
Other Finding Aid
Inventory List in file
Collection is available on 12 reels of microfilm (MF 976).
- Reel 1: 1/1-1/4
- Reel 2: 1/5-2/1
- Reel 3: 2/2-3/1
- Reel 4: 3/2-3/5
- Reel 5: 4/1-4/6
- Reel 6: 4/7-5/3
- Reel 7: 5/4-6/3
- Reel 8: 6/4-7/3
- Reel 9: 7/4-7/13
- Reel 10: 7/14-7/19
- Reel 11: 8/9-8/16
- Reel 12: 8/17-8/22
Photographs have been removed to the LBI Photograph Collection.
- Guide to the Uri Felix Rosenheim, 1928-1981 AR 6210 / MF 976
- Finding aid created by Leo Baeck staff
- © 2009
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Description is in English.
- May 2010:: Container List revised by Julie Dawson.
- 2010-11-29 : encoding of linking to digital objects from finding aid was changed from <extref> to <dao> through dao_conv.xsl
Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository
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New York NY 10011 United States