Lena Dunham: Work of Israeli Poet Yehuda Amichai Helped Me Connect to Judaism

'Girls' creator and star says she has 'fallen in love with the poetry of Yehuda Amichai' after the death of her grandmother

Lena Dunham in the final season of "Girls."
Lena Dunham in "Girls." Mark Schafer/HBO via AP

On Erev Yom Kippur, Lena Dunham informed her 3.2 million Instagram followers that she’d fallen in love with the poetry of Yehuda Amichai. The post from the creator star of “Girls” consisted of an image from a bilingual edition of a collection of Amichai’s poetry, showing, on facing pages, both the Hebrew original and an English translation of “People Use Each Other” (“Anashim Mishtamshim Zeh B’zeh”), and a comment:

“This past year a special person helped me connect to my Judaism in a new way, beyond bagels and sample sales and crushing guilt. After my grandmother Dorothy died, I suddenly felt a desire to understand what the religion that meant so much to her had to offer her granddaughter, even if my world view is far less cleanly structured than hers. ... While I’ve learned a lot, I haven’t started going to temple. I haven’t married a lawyer. But I have fallen in love with the poetry of Yehuda Amichai and I am sorry to anyone I wronged this year (except for some people on Twitter.)”

The English translation of the poem reads:

“People use each other/ as a healing for their pain. They put each other/ on their existential wounds,/ on eye, on cunt, on mouth and open hand./ They hold each other hard and won’t let go.”

Yehuda Amichai
courtesy of Hana Amichai

The post received nearly 30,000 likes within two days as well as numerous comments, some in Hebrew, praising the post and wishing Dunham “Shana Tova,” a happy Jewish New Year.

Dunham, who ended “Girls” in April after six bold, funny and moving seasons, will appear in the seventh episode of the current season of “American Horror Story.” She will play Valerie Solanas, the radical feminist author of “SCUM Manifesto” who famously shot and wounded the artist Andy Warhol in an assassination attempt in 1968. “It’s about female rage and that’s in the country now,” said the show’s creator Ryan Murphy.