Summoning Spirits in Egypt: Jewish Women and Spiritualism in Early Twentieth-Century Cairo
- Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women's Studies & Gender Issues
- Indiana University Press
- Number 38, Spring 5781/2021
- pp. 25-45
- Additional Information
A rare account of Jewish women’s spiritualist activity is preserved in R. Aaron Mendel Hakohen’s Haneshamah vehakadish (1921), an early-twentieth-century Hebrew religious treatise on the soul and the afterlife. The anonymous women depicted in it held regular séances in the company of their families in their Cairo home, in which they utilized a planchette, a popular spirit communication device, in order to contact the departed. This article presents and analyzes Hakohen’s account, considering his role as a literary intermediary relating the women’s communication with the dead, the activities of the Cairo circle in comparison to broader spiritualist practice, and the place of spiritualist doctrine within Hakohen’s theology of the afterlife. A full translation of the account into English is presented in the .