Broner, E. M. (Esther Masserman Broner) Edit

Summary

Agent Type
Person

Dates

  • 1930-2011 (Existence)

Name Forms

  • Broner, E. M. (Esther Masserman Broner)

Notes

  • Biography/Historical Note

    Writer and feminist Esther Masserman Broner (8 July 1927 - 21 June 2011) was born in Detroit at the beginning of the Depression to Paul Masserman and Beatrice Weckstein Masserman. She received her B.A. and M.F.A. degrees from Wayne State University in Detroit. Her Ph.D. is from Union Graduate School in New York. In 1948, E.M. Broner married the artist Robert Broner, and they had four children.

     

    Esther Broner's first published story, "Sudvick the Nudnik," appeared in The Auburn Review, winter 1949. Her first book, Summer is a Foreign Land, was published in 1966 by Wayne State University Press. Later works were published under the name E. M. Broner, because she believed her work was often rejected by publishers because she was a woman. Her story "New Nobility" was included in the O. Henry Prize stories collection of 1968.

     

    Through her writing and rituals, E.M. Broner pioneered Jewish feminism. Her novels, such as A Weave of Women, re-examine the Biblical matriarchs and their place in Scripture. She also discussed creating new religious ceremonies to highlight life cycle events central to women's lives and to include women's experiences in Jewish ritual. In her book The Telling, she describes the beginning of the women's Seder idea: "But this would be different. The invited men would prepare the meal.... The women would contemplate the traditional Haggadah and write new and relevant prayers." She was well known as one of the Seder Sisters. The group, including Gloria Steinem, Bella Abzug, and Phyllis Chesler, met for over twenty years, beginning in 1976, for a Women's Seder. The Seder included traditional text as well as new, inclusive prayers and rituals marking the significant, and often forgotten, role women play in Jewish history.

     

    E.M. Broner received numerous awards for her writing and feminism, including a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and a Wonder Woman Foundation award ("For courage in changing custom with ceremony").

    Author: Paula Dacarett