Although little is known of her life, legends of Miriam Spira-Luria’s scholarship offer tantalizing hints of an intelligent, accomplished woman almost completely erased from history. The daughter of Rabbi Solomon Spira (himself a descendent of the famed rabbinic commentator Rashi), Spira-Luria was born in Germany and married to Aharon Luria, a Talmud scholar who lived in Padua, Italy. What we know about Spira-Luria’s life comes mainly from a brief report by one of her descendents, Yochanan Luria, in the late 15th century. He praised her beauty and her scholarship, claimed that she gave public lectures on halakhah, and said she “sat in the yeshiva behind a curtain and taught the law to some outstanding young men.” While she set an important precedent for future Jewish women, both the fact that she was kept separate from her students for modesty’s sake and the fact that her teachings were not preserved like those of her male relatives shows how far women still had to go to be recognized for their skills and accomplishments.
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Jewish Women's Archive. "Miriam Spira-Luria." (Viewed on September 16, 2019) <https://qa.jwa.org/people/spira-luria-miriam>.