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Conversion

Zipporah Nunes Machado Jacobs

Zipporah Nunes Machado Jacobs escaped the horrors of the Inquisition as a conversa, using clever tricks to keep her devotion to Judaism secret from any who might betray her.

Geraldine Brooks’ novel "People of the Book" reviewed in the Chicago Tribune

December 29, 2007

Geraldine Brooks’ novel “People of the Book” reviewed in the Chicago Tribune

May Podcast: A Conversion Story for Shavuot

Tomorrow starts the festival of Shavuot, a time of spiritual liberation that commemorates the ancient Israelites receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai. The holiday is also linked to the story of Ruth, a Moabite woman, and her relationship with her Israelite mother-in-law, Naomi. As recounted in the Book of Ruth, traditionally read on Shavuot, after Naomi and her daughters-in-law Ruth and Orpah all become widows, Naomi urges the two younger women to leave her and find new husbands.

Spain

Written histories of the Jews in Spain have rarely included women. When dealing with Jewish women in Spain, the available sources range from poems, letters, and rabbinic literature to Latinate wills, court records and Inquisition documents.

Ruth: Midrash and Aggadah

Ruth’s joining Naomi is seen by the Rabbis, in different texts, as the process of full conversion that Ruth underwent. Their very first walking together is understood as a discussion of the laws of conversion (Ruth Rabbah 2:12) and some of these very laws are even derived from the conversation of these two women (BT Yevamot 47b).

Adah Isaacs Menken

Internationally famous for her starring role in the equestrian melodrama Mazeppa, in which she was stripped on stage to a flesh-colored body stocking, lashed to the back of the “wild horse of Tartary,” and sent flying on a narrow ramp above the theater, Adah Isaacs Menken consistently defied social mores.

Rahel Levin Varnhagen

Varnhagen is remembered in Jewish history as one of a handful of Jewish women who ran intellectual salons in Central Europe, especially Berlin, beginning in the relatively liberal period before the defeat of Napoleon.

Muriel Spark

While many of her critics marginalize Spark as a “Catholic writer,” it is clear that the wit, intelligence and subversiveness of her fiction are driven not by an unchanging morality but by a radical singularity.

Dorothea Mendelssohn Schlegel

Dorothea Schlegel was an industrious author, editor, translator, and reviewer. But because she never signed her writings with her own name, she gained little recognition during her lifetime. This intelligent and spirited woman entered the world as the eldest daughter of the pride of the European Haskalah, Moses Mendelssohn.

Margherita Sarfatti

Margherita Sarfatti was born in Venice on April 8, 1880, into the wealthy and cultured Jewish Grassini family. Sarfatti was educated by private tutors, among them Antonio Fradeletto (1858–1930), the founding director of the Venice Biennale. During her childhood, she began to be interested in art and poetry, influenced by Fradeletto, who introduced her to the theories of John Ruskin.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Conversion." (Viewed on September 22, 2014) <http://jwa.org/tags/conversion>.

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