Renee Levine Melammed

Renée Levine Melammed is a full professor of Jewish History at the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem where she heads the women’s studies program. Her first book, Heretics or Daughters of Israel: The Crypto-Jewish Women of Castile (1999) received two National Jewish Book Awards. Her second book is A Question of Identity: Iberian Conversos in Historical Perspective (2004) and her third book, An Ode to Salonika: The Ladino verses of Bouena Sarfatty was published by the University of Indiana Press in 2013.

Articles by this author

Medieval Spain

Written histories of Jews in medieval Spain rarely include women, so one must seek alternate sources. Marital status was the frequent topic of rabbinic responsa. Some Jewish women made their own income as merchants and moneylenders. Inheritance laws were problematic for Jewish women – disputes were settled in both Jewish and non-Jewish courts.

Bouena Sarfatty Garfinkle

Bouena Sarfatty Garfinkle, a Sephardi woman, risked her life over and over again to aid to her community during World War II. At a later stage in her life, Bouena’s historical-literary acumen enabled her to record Jewish life in Salonika during the twentieth century, including the devastation to her community at the hands of the Nazis.


After the establishment of the Inquisition in 1478, observance of crypto-Judaism became dangerous and more difficult. Women were at the center of Judaizing efforts, since the home was the only remaining institution in which one could observe Jewish law. Crypto-Jewish women most frequently observed the Sabbath and dietary laws.

Asnat Barazani

Asnat Barazani was a highly educated and respected Torah scholar in late 16th and early 17th century Kurdistan. After her father’s death, he passed leadership of his Yeshiva in Mosul to Asnat’s husband, but she essentially ran it, taking rabbinic students under her supervision.


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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Renee Levine Melammed." (Viewed on April 14, 2024) <>.