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Elisheva Baumgarten on ‘Contending with Domestic Crises: Jewish Marriages in the Late Middle Ages’

Thursday, February 29
1 – 2:30 p.m.
O’Hare Special Collections Room, Walsh Library
441 East Fordham Road
Bronx, NY 10458
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In the late 13th century, a Jewish rabbi in northern France declared: “And now we (anu) are accustomed to betrothing our daughters, even minors, because every day the exile becomes harsher. Thus, if a person is able to provide his daughter with a dowry, perhaps at some later time he will not be able to do so and his daughter will remain chained (aguna) forever.”(Tosafot, Kiddushin 41a, s.v. “asur le’adam”).

This talk will discuss a variety of crises related to marriage, such as child brides, canceled betrothals, and divorce, in light of the changing fate of Ashkenazic Jewry in the late 13th and 14th centuries. It will seek to situate these changes not only within the family frameworks of medieval Jews, but also within larger trends and shifts in medieval Christian culture.

About the Speaker
Elisheva Baumgarten is the Yitzchak Becker Professor of Jewish Studies and teaches in the Department of Jewish History and the Department of History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She also serves as the academic head of the Joseph, Jack, and Morton Mandel School for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at HUJI. Her research focuses on the Jews of medieval Ashkenaz in the high Middle Ages, and is currently running the Israel Science Foundation-funded research group, Contending with Crises: The Jews in XIVth Century Europe. Her latest book is Biblical Women and Jewish Daily Life in Medieval Europe (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2022), winner of a 2022 National Jewish Book Award.


This event is open to alumni, faculty/staff, parents, students, and the public.