Rebecca of Salerno: A Novel of Rogue Crusaders, a Jewish Female Physician, and a Murder

Published August 2, 2022 – from She Writes Press

Rebecca of Salerno: A Novel of Rogue Crusaders, a Jewish Female Physician, and a Murder is an homage to Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe. Esther Erman discovered Ivanhoe—and the character Rebecca—as a doctoral student at the tender age of 46. Rebecca was perhaps the first positive Jewish character in classical European literature; until this discovery, Esther had always felt the need to compartmentalize when she studied this literature she loved. The few Jews who did show up were villains. Rebecca changed that. She captured Esther’s imagination and held it for three decades. Esther felt this fascinating character deserves her own story. 

Rebecca’s path is, as so often for Jews through the centuries, one of persecution, the need to find a hospitable place to live, and then the need to leave when that place turns inhospitable. Rebecca struggles to balance community expectations and traditions with her desire for fulfillment—one of the great challenges facing women throughout the ages.


. . .a novel for our time:  while acknowledging the worst tendencies of our shared humanity, it also affirms our capacity for resilience and renewal. Erman’s masterful achievement left me feeling moved and inspired.
      – Professor Juliet Shields, Dept. of Humanities, Northumbria University, author of Nation and Migration
 . . meticulously researched and populated with a cast of engaging characters . . . Rebecca must pit her intelligence and resourcefulness against the forces of anti-Semitism and misogyny to solve a murder. . . witty dialogue, a fast pace, and an ingenious plot.
     – Roberta Rich, Author – The Midwife of Venice, The Harem Midwife, and A Trial in Venice

Like her heroine Rebecca and other Jews over the centuries, Esther Erman was a refugee. Having to learn English when she started kindergarten sparked her life-long passion for language. This led to her becoming a language teacher and earning a doctorate in language education; her doctoral dissertation was about Yiddish, the language she abandoned at age five. She is now happily studying Yiddish, which she remembers a lot better than she expected. 

Esther is a proud mother and bubbe. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband. In addition to writing, she loves to read, cook, bake, knit, and quilt. She also loves to travel, especially to be with family in Chicago, New Jersey, and Yorkshire, England.

For more about Esther, please see the About page.