I met Esther Broner close to 20 years ago, when I was a newbie religion writer, and was awed by the power of the Jewish feminist rituals like the feminist Seder, which was then starting to become mainstream (though is most popular now in its neutered form as “women’s seders,” lest anyone be offended by the term “feminist”).
Esther, along with writer Letty Cottin Pogrebin, who remembers her dear friend in this Forward appreciation, was kind to me at a time when I was inexperienced and insecure. Often it’s the small kindnesses extended by the most accomplished people that are the most memorable.
Esther wrote 11 books, including “Bringing Home the Light: A Jewish Woman’s Handbook of Rituals,” (Council Oak Books, 1999) a distillation of her approach to new rituals.
For all of her creativity and productivity, what I will remember most about Esther was her gentleness of manner. Her ideas were in some ways radical. The era she helped midwife was revolutionary. But she spoke with an appealing gentleness. And that she was kind to me at a time when that gentleness made a striking impact.
Esther Broner has died. She has left this world, and especially the lives of Jewish women, richer for her contributions.
Debra Nussbaum Cohen is an award-winning journalist who covers philanthropy, religion, gender and other contemporary issues. Her work has been published in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and New York magazine, among many other publications. She authored the book “Celebrating Your New Jewish Daughter: Creating Jewish Ways to Welcome Baby Girls into the Covenant.”
Esther Broner's Legacy