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The Life of Glückel of Hameln, 1646–1724

Edited by Beth-Zion Abrahams

Publication Year: 2010

Glückel of Hameln’s memoir is widely viewed as one of the earliest major works written by a Jewish woman and has become a classic. Glückel’s aim, she writes at the beginning of her memoir, was to while away the long and melancholy nights that tormented her after her husband’s death, and to inform her 12 children about their family and its history. But her book is not just an account of her life; it is also a fascinating depiction of 17th century Germany and its Jewish community. The Life of Glückel of Hameln is the only English translation of Glückel’s story from the original Yiddish and is widely considered the most accurate and complete translation available. It was out of print for many years until this JPS edition. The volume also includes an introduction by Beth-Zion Abrahams that fills in the background of Glückel’s life and tells how she came to write her memoir. With this reissue, JPS invites a wide audience to read this important record of Jewish, European, and women’s history.

Published by: Jewish Publication Society


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pp. vii-xiv

GLUCKEL, daughter of Bella and Leib Pinkerle and wife of Chaim Segal of Hameln, began to write the story of her life in 1689. Her aim, she states, was 'to while away the long and melancholy nights' which tormented her after her husband's death, and to inform her children of their family and the stock from which they came. She could hardly have imagined that her narrative would become a classic of its kind two hundred years afterwards, nor could she have foreseen that her grief at the death of her beloved husband...


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pp. xv

List of Illustrations

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pp. xvi-xvii

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Book I

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pp. 1-12

IN the year of Creation 54511 I begin writing this with an aching heart, as will follow later. May the Lord make us rejoice as often as He has afflicted us and send our Messiah and Redeemer speedily. Amen. All that the Lord has created, He created for His glory. The world was founded on loving-kindness. ...

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Book II

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pp. 13-41

THAT which I have written and shall write comes from my troubled heart after the death of your father, peace unto him. He was our faithful shepherd. Surely because of our sins God took him to Himself. While I am yet in good health I shall with God's help, leave all in seven small books. ...

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Book III

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pp. 42-74

WHO can write and who can tell of the wonders that happen to mortals? I was about twenty-five years old at the time of which I write. My husband was very energetic in business and I, too, helped. It is not to praise myself that I mention that he took advice from no one but me, and did nothing until we had talked it over together. At this time...

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Book IV

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pp. 75-105

My daughter Hannah grew up a very beautiful child, of whom I shall, perhaps, have more to say later. At this time an East Indiaman laden with rough diamonds fell into the hands of the King of Denmark and lay at Gliickstadt. Every sailor had diamonds. So all the sons of Israel went to Gliickstadt...

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Book V

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pp. 106-148

My heart-loved children, I shall now begin my fifth book by telling of my great sorrow, from the beginning of the illness of your beloved father until his death. On the evening of Tebet 19, 5449 [January 11, 1689] your dear father went to the gentile quarter to meet a merchant with whom he had an appointment...

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Book VI

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pp. 149-168

HERE I begin my sixth book in which I will write of the change in my state which I had avoided for fourteen years. Matches with the most distinguished men in the whole of Germany had been broached to me, but as long as I could support myself on what my husband...

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Book VII

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pp. 169-182

HERE, with the help of the Lord, I will begin my seventh book, which will be partly of sorrow and partly of joy, as is the way of the world. May it be granted that no further sorrows befall my dear children and that in my oId age I may only hear and see joy and their prosperity. As I have already related, I had taken an everlasting farewell of my son Reb...


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pp. 184-190

E-ISBN-13: 9780827609525
Print-ISBN-13: 9780827609143

Publication Year: 2010

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