Esther (E.M.) Broner, Jewish feminist, prolific author, professor, and stalwart pioneer of the women’s rights movement, died in 2011 and bequeathed the rich legacy of her inimitable voice, character, and spirit to humankind. An innovator in reimagining traditional Jewish customs and rituals, Broner co-wrote The Women’s Haggadah, which included women within the conventional structure of Jewish patriarchy. In her most celebrated work, Broner encouraged women to devise their own version of traditional rituals. Leading the first feminist Seder in 1975, she used The Women’s Haggadah in all the readings and rituals for the Passover meal. Since then, her work has been used in hundreds, if not thousands, of feminist Seders throughout the world. Indeed, in her other writings, such as Bringing Home the Light, Broner resurrected the little–known history of matriarchy hidden inside Judaic culture and religion.

In essence, Broner asked the question of Jewish women: “Do you want to be inside the tent or outside the tent?” She spoke eloquently of a singular, pointed choice for us to be either secular and separatist (outside of the patriarchal tent) or construct a new tent in which women devise their own version of tradition rituals. The author of 10 books including fiction, the best–selling A Weave of Women, a memoir, short stories and plays, she introduced and illuminated the importance of female consciousness regardless of faith. Broner taught at several universities including Sarah Lawrence College, Wayne State University, Haifa University, Oberlin, and UCLA.

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