The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

Features thousands of biographic and thematic essays on Jewish women around the world. Learn more

Judith R. Baskin

Judith R. Baskin, who received her Ph.D. in Medieval Studies from Yale University, is Philip H. Knight Professor of Humanities Emerita at the University of Oregon. A past president of the Association for Jewish Studies (2004-2006), she is the author of numerous scholarly articles, book chapters, and encyclopedia entries. Her books include Midrashic Women: Formations of the Feminine in Rabbinic Literature (2002) and the edited collections Jewish Women in Historical Perspective (2nd Edition, 1998), Women of the Word: Jewish Women and Jewish Writing (1994), The Cambridge Dictionary of Judaism and Jewish Culture (2011), and the co-edited Cambridge Guide to Jewish Religion, History, and Culture (2010), a National Jewish Book Award winner.

Articles by this author

Images of Jewish Women in Medieval European Literature

Medieval European representations of Jewish women by Christian authors reveal anxieties about Jews and their imagined intentions. Some of these writings portray young Jewish women as easily seduced by Christian men and Christian teachings; others depict a beautiful but malevolent Jewish woman who leads a Christian boy to his ritual death. Another motif, supposed sexual liaisons between a ruler and a Jewish woman, expresses Christian perceptions of Jewish threats to the Christian state.

Pulcellina of Blois

Pulcellina was a prominent and powerful Jewish moneylender in twelfth-century Blois. In 1171, she was burned at the stake with mother than 30 other Jews on the false accusation of murdering a Christian boy.

Female Martyrdom

In various eras, Jewish women chose martrydom, or Kiddush ha-Shem (sanctification of the Divine Name), rather than repudiate God or transgress certain commandments. Examples appear in Jewish Hellenistic writings, rabbinic literature, Crusade chronicles, medieval Hebrew piyyut (liturgical poetry), accounts of the seventeenth-century Chmielnicki pogroms, and documents connected with the Shoah. Scholars differ, however, regarding the accuracy of these martyrological texts, which often reshape actual events to conform to iconic imagery.

Jessica Blanche Peixotto

Jessica Blanche Peixotto defied convention and her family to become a respected authority in the field of economics. Through her education, professorship, and departmental leadership at the University of California at Berkeley, she broke down barriers for women in education.

Infertile Wife in Rabbinic Judaism

Only men are legally obligated to procreate, but there is disagreement over whether that obligation compels a man to divorce his wife after ten childless years. The initial infertility of the matriarchs reinforces the efficacy of prayer by demonstrating that the individual matriarchs’ suffering and supplications are what provoked a divine response.

Doris Bauman Gold

Doris Bauman Gold was motivated by her long participation in Jewish organizational life to found Biblio Press, dedicated to educating Jewish women about their own history and accomplishments. Through Biblio Press, Gold published more than 27 general audience books that address and illuminate the culture, history, experiences, and spiritual yearnings of Jewish women.

Festivals and Holy Days

According to halakhah, women are responsible for obeying all of Judaism’s negative commandments and for observing most of the positive ones, including the Sabbath and all of the festivals and holy days of the Jewish year. In some instances, however, male and female obligations on these days differ.

Dulcea of Worms

Dolce of Worms was the wife of Rabbi Eleazar ben Judah of Worms, a major rabbinic figure. They were part of the elite leadership class of medieval Germany Jewry. Eleazar’s account of Dolce’s murder in 1196 is an important source for the activities of medieval Jewish women.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Judith R. Baskin." (Viewed on July 25, 2021) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/author/baskin-judith>.

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