No ‘simple housewife’ in early modern Germany

23.07.2011                      21.Tammus, 5771                      Matot

Geschichte:

No ‘simple housewife’ in early modern Germany

Glickl and her family witnessed some of the most important historical events affecting European Jewry during this period.

Glickl Pinkerle Goldshmidt was not, as Solomon Schechter called her (and as Paula Hyman astutely pointed out), a “simple housewife.” Born in Hamburg in 1645 to a highly respected family, she most probably attended a girls’ heder (Jewish elementary school). She was well versed in midrash, ethical stories, tehinot (women’s Yiddish prayers), Taytch (the Yiddish Pentateuch), biblical stories and folk literature. Her Yiddish was superb, both oral and written; she probably could read Hebrew, although the level of her comprehension is uncertain. There are debates to this day as to whether or not she knew German.
Glickl and her family witnessed some of the most important historical events affecting European Jewry during this period. For example, the Chmielnitzki pogroms in Poland created a refugee problem in Germany; the influence of the messianic hopeful Shabtai Zvi was felt in the communities of Ashkenaz as well as in the Ottoman Empire. The end of the Thirty Years’ War in 1645 left Germany in a terrible state; the Jews suffered from its economic and political repercussions as well as from random attacks, persecution, plagues and diseases. In the second half of the 17th century, Jews in Germany were given temporary residence rights and/or expelled….