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Family: Marriage

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Abigail: Bible

Abigail is the wife of Nabal the Calebite from Carmel and later becomes the second wife of David. According to 1 Samuel 25, Abigail is married to Nabal, a wealthy rancher, and she is described as beautiful and intelligent.

Abigail: Midrash and Aggadah

The Rabbis depict Abigail as a wise and practical woman, capable of acting at the right moment and in the right way. She saves David from committing unnecessary bloodshed, while at the same time assuring her future.

Abishag: Midrash and Aggadah

Abishag is described in Rabbinic literature as a woman possessing self-respect and a mind of her own, who is not deterred from confronting King David himself.

Adah 1: Midrash and Aggadah

According to the aggadic tradition, Lamech took two wives, one for sexual pleasure and the other for procreation. One wife would be in his company adorned like a harlot, and he plied her with a drug that induced barrenness, so that she would not give birth; the other sat alone, like a widow. Lamech’s behavior graphically attests to the process of spiritual decline from one generation to the next and the corruption of the Flood generation.

Rachel Adler

Rachel Adler

The writings of Rachel Adler on Jewish law and ritual have catapulted her into the center of modern Jewish religious discourse, and she is unquestionably among the leading constructive Jewish theologians, translators and liturgists of the modern era, garnering attention from Jewish and non-Jewish scholars, women and men alike.

Akiva, Rabbi

Rabbi Akiva was not merely a transmitter, formulator and redactor of halakhah; he also innovated and changed a great deal in our conception of Jewish law.

A Moroccan-Born Mother with Two of her Argentine-Born Daughters, circa 1929

Argentina: Sephardic Women

The Sephardic communities that settled in Argentina in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries came from various areas in the Sephardi world.

The Orthodox Congregation B'nai David Sisterhood of Detroit, Michigan, circa 1950

Assimilation in the United States: Twentieth Century

Jewish women began to assimilate into American society and culture as soon as they stepped off the boat. Some started even earlier, with reports and dreams of the goldene medine, the golden land of liberty and opportunity. Very few resisted adapting to the language and mores of the United States; those who did often returned to Europe. Well over ninety percent stayed, even those who cursed Columbus’s voyage and subsequent European settlement in North America.

Ba'alei Ha-Nefesh

A halakhic work composed in 1180 that deals with the laws of behavior during menstruation (niddah), Ba’alei ha-Nefesh (Masters of the Soul) was written by Rabbi Abraham ben David of Posquières (the Rabad, c. 1125–1198), who was also known as ba’al ha-hassagot (critic par excellence).

Registration Document for Date Orchards, Second Century CE

Babatha

Babatha daughter of Shim’on, a Jewish landowner who lived in Roman Arabia, owned a document archive found in a cave in the Judaean desert. Babatha’s archive is an extremely important resource for many issues, especially on the question of Jewish women’s legal position in Greco-Roman Palestine.

Reem Sisodia

Baghdadi Jewish Women in India

The “Baghdadis,” referring to Jews coming mainly from Baghdad, Basra and Aleppo, but also from other Arabic speaking parts of the Ottoman Empire, arrived in India in the late eighteenth century and ultimately formed important diaspora trading communities in Bombay and Calcutta.

Baraita de-Niddah

The term niddah is used in Jewish tradition in relation to menstruation. It implies “a menstruating woman,” “menstruation,” “menstrual blood,” “bleeding period,” “menstrual impurity,” “laws related to menstruation,” etc. The root of the term is ndd or ndh, which means wandering or exclusion, related most certainly to the exclusion of the menstruant from ordinary social activities.

Bathsheba: Bible

Bathsheba, the wife of David (reigned c. 1005–965 b.c.e.) and the mother of Solomon (reigned c. 968–928 b.c.e.), is featured in each of these roles in one major narrative sequence in the David stories, and she is characterized quite differently in each.

Bathsheba: Midrash and Aggadah

Bathsheba is portrayed by the midrash as a modest woman who carefully observed the laws of family purity, but who found herself, without any conscious action on her part, in an adulterous affair with the king.

Ben Ish Hai

R. Joseph Hayyim ben Elijah al-Hakam was a well-known Torah scholar and preacher who wrote many halakhic, Kabbalistic and homiletical books, but never held any public position.

Rebecca Reuben's Hebrew Class at the Huzurpaga High School for Indian Girls, circa 1913

Bene Israel

Of the three Jewish communities in India—the Bene Israel, the Cochin Jews, and the Iraqis or Baghdadis—that of the Bene Israel of Maharashtra in western India was by far the largest. Numbering perhaps twenty thousand at its peak in the early 1950s, the majority of the Bene Israel have since left their homeland—most going to Israel—so that only about five thousand remain in India.

Berenice

Berenice, daughter of King Agrippa I, queen of Chalcis, was married three times and then became the lover of the emperor’s son, Titus.

Hinde Bergner

Though not a published writer in her time, Hinde Bergner holds a special place in Yiddish literature by virtue of the fact that her memoir of family life in a late nineteenth century Galician (Yiddish) Small-town Jewish community in Eastern Europe.shtetl is one of few extant Yiddish memoirs to describe the traditional Jewish family on the edge of modernity told from the perspective of a woman. Her intimate portrayal of matchmaking and marriage customs, the education of girls, Jewish occupations, information about period clothing and home furnishing, the spiritual life of Jewish women, generational tensions, and cross-cultural contacts results in a valuable document of Jewish social, family, and women’s history.

Bet Hillel and Bet Shammai

Bet Hillel and Bet Shammai are the two major schools of exposition of Oral Law that existed from the first century b.c.e. to the second century c.e. Talmudic tradition lists over three hundred and fifty disputes or controversies between Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel, including more than sixty disputes that deal with issues of family law—that is, disputes in which women are incorporated into the The legal corpus of Jewish laws and observances as prescribed in the Torah and interpreted by rabbinic authorities, beginning with those of the Mishnah and Talmud.halakhic discussion.

Bilhah: Bible

When Rachel marries Jacob, her father Laban gives her a maid, Bilhah (Gen 29:29; 46:25), whom she gives to Jacob as a wife (Hebrew ishah) when she finds herself barren (Gen 30:3–7).

Bilhah: Midrash and Aggadah

The Rabbis count Bilhah among the six Matriarchs (Cant. Rabbah 6:4:2). She was the handmaiden of Rachel, to whom she had been given by Rachel’s father Laban when she married Jacob.

Tombstone of Hannah de Leon

Caribbean Islands and the Guianas

To sum up, the life of Jewish women in the Caribbean and the Guianas differed from that elsewhere in the Jewish world, since Jewish life had to adapt itself to the jungle, to isolated plantations and to small islands, with only limited contact with the outside world.

National Council of Jewish Women, 1910

Club Movement in the United States

Jewish clubwomen emerged in America between 1880 and 1920 as part of a comprehensive social transition. Jews—women as well as men—evolved from a series of scattered ethnic enclaves primarily of German origin into a more cohesive and politically active portion of a decidedly American middle class.

Phila Franks

Colonial Period in the United States

More so than some of their counterparts in England’s Caribbean colonies, Jewish women in colonial North America occupied traditional positions and played traditional roles within the Jewish community as well as in the larger society. They could not serve in positions of leadership in either the Jewish or the general community, and they are not known to have had their own social organizations. Their primary occupation was that of homemaker, although, in an extension, several kept lodgings in which poorer Jewish individuals lived at the Jewish community’s expense.

Concubine of a Levite: Bible

The story of the unnamed woman in Judges 19–20 is one of the most disturbing texts in the Hebrew Bible. The woman, who is from Bethlehem but lives with a Levite in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Jerusalem, is referred to in Hebrew as the pilegesh of the Levite. The precise nature of the relationship between a man and his pilegesh is not always clear from the biblical texts, however, and scholars have sometimes disagreed about the term’s meaning. It is usually translated into English as “concubine” and understood to refer to a wife or sexual partner of secondary status. Although certain men in the Hebrew Bible have both wives and concubines, no wives or additional concubines are referred to in Judges 19. The Levite is referred to as the “husband” of the woman (19:3; 20:4) and the “son-in-law” of the woman’s father (19:5), who in turn is referred to as the Levite’s “father-in-law” (19:4, 7, 9). The uncertain nature of the differences between a wife and a concubine reveals the complexities involved in understanding notions of kinship and marriage presupposed by biblical narratives.

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