Born in London and raised in Glasgow, Freema Gottlieb was awarded the top scholarship to Girton College at Cambridge University, where she studied English literature, and received a BA and M.Phil. The first to have access to the Leonard Woolf papers, she received a PhD from University College, London, for her research on Leonard and Virginia Woolf.
After editing for the Soncino Press, reporting for the Jewish Chronicle, and working for BBC World News, she left the UK for New York, to teach literature and to do public relations and speechwriting for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, an international relief organization.
In addition to contributing literary reviews for such periodicals as the Times Literary Supplement and the New York Times Book Review, Freema ghost-wrote Jewish Folk Art (Summit Books) for Joy Ungerleider-Mayerson, the former curator of the Jewish Museum in New York.
Through the Joint Distribution Committee, Freema volunteered for two years to teach midrash in the Near East Department of Charles University and at the Jan Hus Theological Seminary in Prague, where she collaborated with photographer Alois Haljan on Mystical Stonescapes of Prague Jewish Town and Village Graveyards.
An occasional contributor to the Jewish Week’s column on the weekly Sabbath Bible reading, she is the author of The Lamp of God:a Jewish Book of Light, a meditation on over 3,000 years of Jewish sources to which the light metaphor is key.
She is at work on a “midrashic” memoir in progress about the gut renovation of an old pre-1948 Jerusalem apartment and has recently been researching her father's role in saving the lives of many hundreds of Jewish youth through founding the Vienna Youth Aliyah School in the early days of the Anschluss.