Hinde-Esther Kreitman - she would have turned 130.

Updated: Apr 13

March 31 marks the 130th anniversary of the Jewish writer and translator Hinde-Esther Kreitman - the older sister of the Nobel laureate Yitzhak Bashevis-Singer and the talented prose writer Yisroel-Yehoshua Singer.


Three writers in one family! This fact has undoubtedly made the Singer family the number one family in the pantheon of Yiddish literature.


Unlike her illustrious brothers, unfortunately, Hinde-Esther received much less fame, although she can confidently be called a pioneer, one of the founders of modern women's literature in Yiddish.


Hinde-Esther was the eldest of the Singer family's children. She was born in 1891 in Bilgoraj.


She was a rather tragic figure in many ways. In the story "My sister", which was included in the autobiographical collection "Mine tatns beis-din-shub" (Papa's domestic court), Itzhak Bashevis recalls: "Every day a Freudian drama was played out in our house. My sister, Hinde-Esther, the eldest, not could never get along with my mom. " In this story, he sheds light on the controversial personality of his sister.


On the one hand, she was a creative person, striving for education, spiritual development and knowledge. He calls her "a Hasid in a skirt, through whose lips the Kabbalists, the righteous and the righteous spoke, sang, wept ... Her soul yearned for celebration, singing, cheerfulness and exaltation." On the other hand, she suffered from epileptic seizures, often fell into hysterics and depression. Her mood changed in the blink of an eye.


Bashevis compares his sister to an eternally erupting volcano, and, for sure, this influenced the very difficult relationship between Hinde-Esther and both brothers who accompanied her throughout her life.


In 1912 she married a diamond cutter Avrom Kreitman and left for Antwerp. Her son Maurice was born there, who later became known under the pseudonym Maurice Care, became a writer and journalist. During the Second World War, the family moved to London, in great need of material. For the sake of earning money, Hinde-Esther was mainly engaged in translations of classical literature, as well as actual literature of a socialist persuasion, from English into Yiddish.


She published only three books during her lifetime: the novel "Der shaidim-dance" (the dance of devils) - 1936, the novel "Brilliantn" (diamonds) - 1944 and a collection of short stories - 1949. Unfortunately, her works were not received sufficient attention and publicity during her lifetime, which introduced her into constant depression. She had to fight desperately for her place in the literary field. She appealed to a family friend, poet and literary critic, Melech Ravich, with repeated requests to "push" positive reviews of her books in the Yiddish press. The situation was aggravated by the fact that both eminent brothers practically broke off contact with her, and after the war, Bashevis refused to help her immigrate to America.


Hinde-Esther died in London in 1954, nevertheless Yitzhak Bashevis dedicated an article to her "In memory of my beloved sister", in which he stated: "There was no more significant writer in Yiddish literature than my sister" ...


Tormented by both eternal internal anxiety and external adversity, the sister, who with all her might tried to achieve recognition in such a "masculine" world, where the role of a woman, especially educated and creatively active, was practically nihilated, became for Bashevis the prototype of the main character of his story "Entl - the doctrine of the yeshiva ", according to which the famous film starring Barbra Streisand was made in 1983.


Interest in the almost forgotten work of Kreitman appeared after the publication of her book "Court" in 1983 in English.