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Merab, daughter of Saul: Midrash and Aggadah

Merab, daughter of Saul, was meant to marry David, but ended up being given in matrimony to Adriel the Metholathite. Rabbis in the Midrash and Aggadah discuss two different versions of events: one in which Merab marries David, and one where she marries Adriel.

Medieval Ashkenaz (1096-1348)

The Jews of medieval Ashkenaz are known for their prolific rabbis and for the Ashkenazic customs that became characteristic of many European Jewish communities. During the High Middle Ages, the women in these communities had many important roles women within the family and in the communal, economic, and religious life.

Martha, daughter of Boethus

One of the richest women in Jerusalem during her time, Martha, daughter of Beothus, used her wealth to change the laws of marital status to marry Joshua ben Gamla, a High Priest.

Mariamme I The Hasmonean

Mariamme, granddaughter of the last Hasmonean rulers, was the wife of King Herod of the new dynasty. After bearing him five children, she was executed by the king in 27 B.C.E.

Levant: Women in the Jewish Communities after the Ottoman Conquest of 1517

Following their expulsion from the Iberian Peninsula in 1492, many Jews settled in Palestine, Egypt, and Syria – regions which fell under Ottoman Control in 1517. Girls in the Levant were married at young ages, polygamy was common, and obtaining a get was very difficult. Nevertheless, many Jewish women worked outside the home and kept their earnings.

Legal-Religious Status of the Virgin

Virginity has long remained a significant feature of womanhood in Judaism. Many foundational Jewish texts detail the specifics of virginity, explaining the requirements of virginity and to what extent these requirements can be expanded.

Legal-Religious Status of the Suspected Adulteress (Sotah)

When a husband accused his wife of adultery, the Bible prescribes the ritual of Sotah (bitter waters) to verify his claim. Rabbinic literature explains and explores the ritual and the requirements for undergoing sotah.

Legal-Religious Status of the Moredet (Rebellious Wife)

A woman who is deemed a moredet is severely disadvantaged in her legal standing. There are various ways in which a women is considered a moredet, and all legal processes dealing with rebellious wives put women at a legal disadvantage.

Legal-Religious Status of the Married Woman

Rabbinic law defines the criteria and requirements for traditional marriage, marital rights, and divorce. However, the rabbinic marital system poses many problematic issues for women, especially for agunot, women trapped against their will in marriages by their husbands.

Legal-Religious Status of the Female According to Age

Legal status in Judaism is determined by age, sex, legal capacity, and, to some extent, by class and societal status. Legal majority in Jewish law was achieved relatively early in comparison to contemporary standards.

Kurdish Women

Jews lived in Kurdistan for 2,800 years, until a mass migration to Israel in the 1950s. This Jewish community’s ancient roots and relative seclusion in the Kurdistan region fostered unique religious, cultural, and linguistic characteristics. Despite assimilation and the loss of traditional practices, the community remained tight-knit.

Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook

Although he credited women for their emotions and intuition and valued them for their essential position in the family, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook generally regarded women as inferior to men. He believed women should not be educated but rather should be limited to the home and to serving as their husband and family’s housekeeper.

Francine Klagsbrun

Author of more than a dozen books and countless articles in national publications and a regular columnist in two Jewish publications, Francine Klagsbrun is a writer of protean interests who has made an impact on both American and American Jewish culture.

Killer Wife in Jewish Law and Lore

The Talmud states that if a woman is twice or thrice widowed, she is prohibited from remarrying because it is presumed that she is a killer wife and that her next husband will also die. This has been applied in post-Talmudic law, but also negated by some halakhic decisors.

Kibbutz Ha-Dati Movement (1929-1948)

Beginning in 1929, the religious kibbutz (Kibbutz Ha-Dati) movement represented the confluence of progressive ideals of equality and collectivism and traditional customs of Judaism. As a result, women in the movement lived at a crossroads.

Karaite Women

Family law and personal status of women are important aspects of both the daily life and the halakhah of Karaite communities. Karaite legal sources often deal with rules pertaining to betrothal, marriage, divorce, ritual purity, and incest.

Esther Jungreis

Esther Jungreis, a leading Jewish public orator from the 1970s to the 1990s, was a pioneer in the Orthodox Jewish outreach movement. Her lectures and educational programs encouraged many previously unaffiliated young Jews to explore their heritage.

Juedischer Frauenbund (The League of Jewish Women)

Founded in 1904, The League of Jewish Women pursued secular German feminist goals while maintaining a strong sense of Jewish identity. The League supported vulnerable women through practical social reforms while fighting for political power within the German Jewish community. It saw employment opportunities as essential to women’s economic, psychological, and emotional independence.

Early Modern Italy

A study of the role of Jewish women in household formation, the household, and household dissolution, as well as their engagement in Jewish culture in early modern Italy, raises the question of how much of Jewish practice reflected the context of the surrounding society and how much engaged options in traditional Jewish practices, which were selected to meet their own needs. Despite the wealth of information about some well- known women and reports of the activities of many unnamed women, Jewish women, like Christian women, still functioned in the context of women and the period does not represent a Renaissance for women.

Iraqi Jewish Women

Jews lived in Iraq for thousands of years. Life for Iraqi Jewish women was determined by tradition, custom, and religious law, with a patriarchal system that emphasized child-rearing and household duties. These traditions shifted with the secularizing British Mandate in Iraq, and again with the assimilation the Iraqi Jewish community experienced upon immigration to Israel.

International Coalition for Agunah Rights (ICAR)

International Coalition for Agunah Rights (ICAR) was created to solve the problem of women whose husbands refuse to grant them Jewish divorces, through a combination of education and activism. Although some of the member organizations remain active in North America, ICAR itself has become a primarily Israel-focused coalition.

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.

Imma Shalom

In the 1st century CE, Imma Shalom was the sister of a powerful Rabbi and wife of an eminent sage. She defended her husband when he disobeyed the wishes of his colleagues. She also challenged the tradition of giving shares of a father’s estate only to his sons and a judge awarded her part of her father’s estate, although the judge reversed himself after being bribed by her brother.

Beba Idelson

Beba Idelson was an Israeli politician and dedicated Zionist activist. She served as a member of the Knesset for sixteen years and was instrumental in shaping the character of the State of Israel, especially as it pertained to women’s rights.

Iggeret Ha-Kodesh

The Iggeret ha-Kodesh is a Kabbalistic work with contested authorship, written in the second half of the twelfth century. The work is a kabbalistic interpretation of sexual relations and its sacred spirituality between a married couple.


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