Abstract

In this article, I suggest a new reading of two Yemenite Judeo-Arabic texts translated for and read to women: Ma khabar hadhah al-laylah (What happened on this night?) for the Passover Seder and Qussat annah (The story of Hannah) for the eve of the Ninth of Ab. Both are part of the popular religious literature of Yemenite Jews.1 Although these stories may be examined from linguistic or literary perspectives, I have chosen to interrogate these texts from a gendered perspective. In doing so, I seek both to enrich the discourse about the texts themselves and to shed light on the place of women in Yemenite Jewish society. In order better to understand the roles and the significance of these texts in women's religious lives, I will first situate women within the Jewish religio-cultural context in Yemen. I will then present the two texts and discuss their shared gendered aspects, which arose from their common designation as texts written for women. I will link them to the contents of women's laments over the dead, which they composed and sang. Finally, I will suggest what messages these texts might have held for their women listeners.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1565-5288
Print ISSN
0793-8934
Pages
pp. 84-104
Launched on MUSE
2006-06-27
Open Access
No
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