Esther Kreitman

Esther Singer Kreitman was a published author, but she was overshadowed by her brothers.

Print this page Print this page

For all its merits--and there are many--Kreitman's Deborah reflects this condition. Though Deborah is obviously the novel's main character, the story is not told from her point of view and she disappears for pages at a time. Kreitman's other female characters suffer bouts of absence as well. One such character is the wife of the Tsadik of "R." Compared to her corrupt husband, the Tsadik's wife is portrayed as a kind, sophisticated woman. Her company is one of the few things Deborah's depressive mother enjoys, and she helps Deborah's father when her miserly husband withholds his salary. Then she vanishes from the narrative without a trace.

Esther Singer Kreitman was no Judith Shakespeare. Though she is not as widely read or remembered as her two brothers, her work endures. And yet, despite having the opportunity to write and publish, she internalized the literary patriarchy she struggled against. Deborah is about a young woman struggling for visibility, but the novel's absences are blinding.

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.

Daniel Septimus

Daniel Septimus is Executive Director of The Sefaria Project. Previously, he served as Chief Executive Officer of MyJewishLearning, Inc.