Monday, September 22, 2008

Sidewalk Snapshot: Haya Esther

Recognize this lady, here on a Jerusalem street?

She's Haya Esther (Godlevsky).

She was born to an Orthodox family in Jerusalem in 1941. She received a BA in Jewish history and an MA in education from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and studied art at the Israel Museum. She has taught and written Bible study programs for secondary school. Haya Esther is a painter, poet and short-story writer. She has held many solo exhibitions around the country and has participated in group shows in Israel and abroad. Haya Esther has received the Tel Aviv Foundation Award (1989), the Writers` Association Prize (1995), the Prime Minister`s Prize (2002) and the President`s Prize for Literature (2005). Hebrew resume here and another here.

To get a sense of her writing, here's a blurb and review of Soft Stones, Stories, Tel Aviv, Ekked, 1983; 1988. 112 pp.

Soft Stones depicts an Orthodox Jewish community which makes unrelenting ritual demands on its members, but cannot extinguish imagination and emotions. The story "Nehama Gittel" follows an Orthodox woman to the ritual bath, where the odors of sweat, chlorine and perfumes plunge her into a reverie about the love of her life, lost to her because of his arranged marriage. In "Something Like Love", young unmarried people know they are forbidden to meet unchaperoned. But the forbidden occurs: they talk intimately, look at each other and touch. The style is strong, subtle and compelling, with heart-stopping moments.

If you read Hebrew, here's a shortstory.

I receive all her invitations to various readings and exhibits such as for example (here) and several works in this exhibit and, as is usual here in Israel, it happened that I employed her husband many years ago to install a new heating system in our Bayit VeGan apartment.

She is fashionably flagrant and, as you can see, a bright deep cooper-red head.

Her poetry has been termed "Auto-erotic cosmogenies".

She attends most of the Uri Tzvi Greenberg House events and somehow manages to walk a lot around downtown Jerusalem. Conversing with her demands strict eye-level contact and I don't know who gets more stares: her due to her dress or me talking to her in her state of relative less-than-dress.

May she continue to be productive.

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