Hannah Rachel Verbermacher, one of the early precursors of women rabbis, was known as the Maid of Ludomir and was alternately revered for her wisdom and reviled for taking on a traditionally male role. Verbermacher was known from an early age for her beauty, intelligence, and piety. Deeply shaken by the death of her mother, she fell ill after visiting her mother’s grave and upon her recovery claimed she had been given “a new and elevated soul” and broke off her engagement with her fiancé. She devoted herself to intensive study and prayer, delivered weekly teachings over Shabbat meals in the style of male Hasidic masters, and gained a reputation for miracle-working. As women and then men flocked to her beit midrash, male leaders of the Hasidic movement pressured her to take on a more traditional role as wife and mother. After a meeting with the much-revered Rabbi Mordecai Twersky of Chernobyl, she reluctantly agreed to marry—twice—but divorced without consummating either marriage. However, the marriages had the intended effect of ending her career and allowing critics to tarnish her reputation. She finally made Aliyah to Palestine and lived into her eighties as a member of a Hasidic group in Jerusalem.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Maid of Ludomir." (Viewed on September 15, 2019) <https://jwa.org/people/verbermacher-hannah>.