Gluckel of Hameln was a Jewish woman from Hamburg who lived in the seventeenth century. She wrote her lengthy memoirs in Yiddish. Her memoir is regarded to be one of the most important documents for European Jewish history written by a Jewish woman. The diary or the memoirs are addressed to her fourteen children. In 1690, Gluckel became a widow after the death of her husband and the memoirs were a therapeutic way to heal her wounded heart. The diary was used to take away her sad thoughts and to get her through her sadness. She states “I am not writing this book in order to preach to you, but, as I have already said, to drive away the melancholy that comes with the long nights …”However, in her diary she informs her children that the diary was not a book of morals but one to include them in her life experiences, memories and life. In her memoirs, Gluckel explains all what happened in her life. She also explains the way she directed the financial and personal destinies of her children, how she conducted her trade business with the intention of promoting the welfare of her family.
Gluckel's diary gives the reader the understanding of the typical life of what a widowed Jewish woman faced in a Christian dominated Germany. It’s a vivid description of what happened to the Jews of her time accounting the personal and public perspective in the 17th and 18th century. In her diary she reveals the fear she lived with, as a mother would have over her children. She also explains the relationship she experienced from her first and second husband and the responsibilities she faced as a trader.
Gluckel’s memoir are arranged to describe her life in seven books. The first four books describe her mourning of her fir...
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...le to live as full citizens in the city and many were placed in subordinate status.
The memoir of Gluckel of Hameln is an irreplaceable source of information for historians because it gives the understanding of Jewish life. The Jews faced lots of challenges and the memoirs reveal life and death matters that constituted the Jewish life. These memoirs help the reader to learn the difficulties faced everyday life by the Jews at the time. However, the Jewish people preserved their Jewish self-identity. The memoir is a rich source for the understanding of social and cultural history of the 17th century Europe. Using her spirituality, Gluckel used her memoirs to instruct her children on the importance of values, the family and religious ties, and maintaining their Jewish identity.
Glueckel. The Memoirs of Glückel of Hameln. New York: Schocken, 1977. Print.
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