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Cheryl Tallan

Cheryl Tallan received a M.A. from York University, Toronto, in Interdisciplinary Studies. She is now an independent scholar. In 2003 she co-authored, with Emily Taitz and Sondra Henry, The JPS Guide to Jewish Women, 600 B.C.E.–1900 C.E. Her specialty is medieval Jewish women and she has prepared a bibliography on this subject, Medieval Jewish Women in History, Law, Literature, and Art: A Bibliography, which is available on the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute web site.

Articles by this author

Licoricia of Winchester

Licoricia of Winchester, daughter of Isaac, was the most notable English Jewish woman of her time. She was born sometime towards the beginning of the thirteenth century and was married twice. After the death of her first husband, Abraham, son of Isaac, of Kent and Winchester, Licoricia continued living in Winchester with her three sons, Cokerel (Isaac), Benedict (Baruch) and Lumbard. The first documented evidence of Licoricia’s lending activities is from the early 1230s when the records show that she lent money in association with other Jews as well as by herself with an attorney. By the end of that decade she was one of the richest Jewish moneylenders in Winchester.

Learned Women in Traditional Jewish Society

The long-standing idea that women are either not fit to be educated or do not need to be educated has deep roots in Jewish history. Beginning with the Hebrew Bible, the primacy of men is a given and women’s status is closely related to their childbearing function. There are, however, some exceptions. Both Deborah and Huldah were prophets and therefore presumably knowledgeable in the law. The matriarchs, although not equal to their husbands, displayed assertive behavior and did not hesitate to manipulate events to fit their own interpretations of God’s will.

Entrepreneurs

The dictionary definition of entrepreneur is “a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.” Following this definition to its logical conclusion, every pre-modern woman who managed a household was an entrepreneur since the household, at least until the seventeenth—in some places until the eighteenth—century, was an economic enterprise. For the purposes of this article, however, we have limited this broad definition of entrepreneurship, concentrating on women who specialized in commerce, selling what they themselves produced or what others produced and, in later centuries, women who were actively involved in the money economy.

Doctors: Medieval

In the medieval period, Jewish women doctors were found in most of the countries of western and central Europe, i.e., Spain, France, Provence, Italy, Sicily, and especially in Germany. Slawa of Warsaw (1435) is the only one who has so far been found from eastern Europe, but others will probably come to light when the records are examined more thoroughly. Evidence of women doctors in Egypt and Turkey comes from the beginning (ninth to twelfth centuries) of this period and from its end (sixteenth and seventeenth centuries), although evidence for women healers is scattered throughout the sources.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Cheryl Tallan." (Viewed on June 26, 2019) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/author/tallan-cheryl>.

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