Ada Rapoport-Albert

Ada Rapoport-Albert is Reader in Jewish History and head of the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies at UCL, London University. Her research is focused on Jewish spirituality and the history of the Jewish mystical tradition. Her forthcoming book is Female Bodies and Male Souls: Asceticism, Mysticism, and Gender in the Jewish Tradition.

Articles by this author

Sabbateanism

Uniquely in the history of rabbinic Judaism, which exempted women from much of its formal cult, and which generally barred them from all positions of public office and authority, Sabbateanism displayed a particular interest in women and was especially attractive to them from the outset.

Ludomir, Maid of

A semi-legendary figure, reputed to have been one of the few Women in Hasidism who functioned as a fully-fledged spiritual master (Zaddik or Rebbe). Most of the information about her originates in oral traditions of “old women in Volhynia,” first collected and published in 1909 by the historian Samuel Abba Horodezky (1871–1987). These were subsequently subjected to his own as well as others’ elaborations and expansions, which appeared in a variety of popular-historical, belletristic, journalistic and memoiristic works. Significantly, the hagiographical literature of nineteenth-century hasidism makes no mention whatever of her, nor is any mystical or ethical teaching attributed to her in other genres of hasidic writing. She is, however, mentioned briefly in an 1883 satirical work by a female/sing.: Member of the Haskalah movement.maskil and, following the publication of Horodezky’s reports, in a handful of twentieth-century hagiographical anthologies.

Hasidism

Hasidism—a spiritual revival movement associated with the founding figure of Israel Ba’al Shem Tov (Besht, c. 1700–1760), which began in Poland in the second half of the eighteenth century and became a mass movement of Eastern European Jewry by the early decades of the nineteenth—has been celebrated as nothing less than a “feminist” revolution in early modern Judaism. The first to depict it in this light was Samuel Abba Horodezky (1871–1957) who, in his four-volume Hebrew history of Hasidism, first published in 1923, claimed that “the Jewish woman was given complete equality in the emotional, mystical, religious life of Beshtian Hasidism” (vol. 4, 68). Horodezky’s account underlies virtually every subsequent treatment of the subject, whether in the popular, belletristic and semi-scholarly literature on the history of Hasidism, or in such works, mostly apologetic and uncritical, as have set out to discover and catalogue the achievements of prominent women throughout pre-modern Judaism. Notably, until relatively recently, Hasidic scholarship has totally ignored the subject, implicitly dismissing it as either marginal or insufficiently documented to permit serious consideration.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Ada Rapoport-Albert." (Viewed on November 17, 2019) <https://qa.jwa.org/encyclopedia/author/rapoport-albert-ada>.

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