The Memoirs of Glückel of Hameln

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Memoirs by pre-19th century women are exceedingly rare. This memoir by a late 17th to early18th-century Jewish business woman is completely unique. Gluckel’s financial dealings, her piety and personal conduct, and the family and community events she describes bring us into a world we rarely glimpse. She uses Jewish folk and religious teachings to illuminate her thoughts and internal life, showing how accessible stories and texts created a parallel, female tradition of moral and ethical instruction.

Born in 1645 into an affluent merchant family, Gluckel was married young and had 14 children, but remained active in the business affairs of her family. After her first husband’s death she eventually remarried, but her second marriage was not a success (made worse by this husband’s lack of business skill). She ended her life disappointed by her changed financial and emotional state, yet still finding strength in her faith and in the telling of her stories.

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The Memoirs of Glückel of Hameln