Converting before the Great Conversion

02.03.2013                      20.Adar. 5773                      Ki Tisa; Paraschat Parah

Judentum:

Converting before the Great Conversion

Why might a woman opt to leave the fold? What happened if she did so? Was this a risky business or a wise choice? Was this something one might regret?

There was an interesting study recently, concerning the phenomenon of Jewish women and conversion to Catholicism in Spain prior to the forced conversions that took place in 1391. Why might a woman opt to leave the fold? What happened if she did so? Was this a risky business or a wise choice? Was this something one might regret? Paola Tartakoff (“Jewish Women and Apostasy in the Medieval Crown of Aragon, c. 1300-1391,” Jewish History (2010)) used Latin sources to uncover some cases that dealt with precisely this phenomenon. It is hard to know how many or how few Jews actually converted pre-1391, but it seems likely that records do not reveal the actual numbers….