Kreitman, Esther 1891–1954
Kreitman, Esther 1891–1954
(Hinde Esther Singer Kreitman)
PERSONAL: Name sometimes transliterated Ester Kreytman; born 1891, in Bilgoray, Poland; died 1954, in London, England; married; children: Maurice Carr.
Der sheydim-tants, Warsaw, Poland, 1936, translated from the Yiddish as Deborah, W. & G. Foyle (London, England), 1946, translated by Maurice Carr, introduction by Clive Sinclair, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1983, with introduction by Ilan Stavans, afterword by Anita Norich, Feminist Press at the City University of New York (New York, NY), 2004.
Briliantn (title means "Diamond"), [London, England], 1944.
Yihus, dertseylungen un skitsn, Narod Press (London, England), 1950.
SIDELIGHTS: Esther Kreitman, the elder sister of well-known writer Isaac Bashevis Singer, wrote novels in Yiddish. In Prooftexts: A Journal of Jewish Literary History, Dafna Clifford commented that the author "was a talented Yiddish writer with a unique voice. Her work is notable for its richly idiomatic Polish Yiddish and for her illumination of unusual corners of Jewish life." Noting that Kreitman deserved more recognition for her portrayal of Hasidic communities, Clifford went on to comment: "She wrote about power, its abuse, and those systematically excluded from taking an active part in the narrative of their own lives. She gave moving and powerful expression to the need for the recognition of the dignity of women, while maintaining a strong emotional attachment to the society she criticized so feelingly."
Kreitman's first novel was the autobiographical Der sheydim-tants, published in 1936 in Yiddish. The book was translated into English as Deborah, in 1946 with several new editions being published over the years, including one in 2004. The title character Deborah, whose early life greatly reflects Kreitman's, is bright like her older brothers, but as a woman she is oppressed by Hassidic society. Deborah wants an education and freedom; she also temporarily becomes interested in socialism. After a traditional marriage is arranged for Deborah by her unyielding parents, she finds herself in a foreign land with a man she does not love. Writing in Booklist, Margaret Flanagan noted that the book "resonates with the often bitter truths of a unique time and culture," and went on to call the novel "an important contribution to … feminist Yiddish literature." In a review for Library Journal, Molly Abramowitz pointed out the author's daring as a woman writer in a male-dominated culture, noting: "The protagonist's feminine view of the Polish shtetls … puts a modern twist on a scene long dominated by men." Kreitman died in London in 1954.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, August, 2004, Margaret Flanagan, review of Deborah, p. 1899.
Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2004, review of Deborah, p. 553.
Library Journal, August, 2004, Molly Abramowitz, review of Deborah, p. 68.
Prooftexts: A Journal of Jewish Literary History, fall, 2003, Dafna Clifford, "From Diamond Cutters to Dog Races: Antwerp and London in the Work of Esther Kreitman," p. 320.
Ester Kreytman Web site, http://www.ugr.es/∼aramos/kreytman/index.html (June 1, 2005).