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Glückel bas Judah

Glückel bas Judah of Hameln’s remarkable life as a businesswoman and world traveler was preserved in her own words, thanks to the autobiography she wrote over the course of several years. Married at fourteen, Glückel helped her husband with his business as a jewel merchant, interviewing prospective agents, drawing up agreements, and keeping accounts while raising fourteen children, twelve of whom survived to adulthood. Glückel travelled extensively through Germany, France, Holland, and Denmark, both for business and securing good matches for her children. When her husband died in 1689, he left the business in her hands. She not only maintained the jewel trade, she lent money at interest and set up a sock factory in Hamburg, selling her wares at local fairs. However, after eleven years of widowhood, she married a banker who squandered all of her money and died, leaving her penniless and dependent on her children, something she had fought to avoid her entire life. Glückel began writing her autobiography in 1691, two years after her first husband died. Written in Old Yiddish, it is a combination of an ethical will, a memoir, stories of her ancestors, and an account of important events in the communities where she lived.

Glückel bas Judah
Full image
Bertha Pappenheim, a descendant of Glückel bas Judah, poses as Glückel for this portrait painted by the artist Leopold Pilichowski.
Portrait courtesy of Leo Baeck Institute.
Date of Birth
1645
Place of Birth
Hamburg
Date of Death
September 19, 1724
Occupations

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Glückel of Hameln." (Viewed on September 25, 2016) <http://jwa.org/people/gluckel-of-hameln>.

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