The light of Israeli women poets – Candle #5 – Esther Ettinger

December 22, 2014 by

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esterThe fifth candle I chose to light with the poetry of Esther Ettinger. She was born in Israel in 1941, and lives and works in Jerusalem. Her writing is suffused with religious language while addressing human existential questions.

In the poem Dynasty, she uses shoes as an object that passes from generation to generation and carries within it historical memory. Shoes are often used in Israeli art as a metonymy for the Holocaust and disaster. In this poem they become a source of power.

Hanukkah is a festival full of light, in which we see women lighting Hanukkiot, and taking a full part in the festive joy. In honor of the women who are creating new dynasties of religious activity I lit the fifth candle of Hanukkah.


Shoes –
black suede, size thirty-eight
that I bought in Rome with my mother
near the fountain
in ninety-one.
My granddaughters walk in them.
Their big toes swim down into the boats’
sharp prows,
and they sail on their high haunches
on a journey through the rooms,
fail and stand up again.

This is how we establish a dynasty.

© Translation: 2012, Lisa Katz


© 2011, Hakibbutz Hameuchad
From: Night and Day
Publisher: Hakibbutz Hameuchad, Tel Aviv, 2011

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