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Glueckel of Hameln

Glückel of Hameln

Glückel of Hameln (also spelled Gluckel or Glikl of Hamelin; also known as Glikl bas Judah Leib) (1646, HamburgSeptember 19, 1724, Metz) was a Jewish businesswoman and diarist, whose account of her life provides scholars with an intimate picture of Jewish life in Germany in the late-seventeenth-early eighteenth century. Written in Yiddish, her diaries were originally intended for her descendants. The first part is actually a living will urging them to live ethical lives. It was only much later that historians discovered the diaries and began to appreciate her account of life at that time. Glückel lived in the city of Hamburg, where her husband Haim was an affluent businessman. Already involved in his business during his lifetime, when he died in 1689, she took over the business, conducting trade with markets as far as Amsterdam, Leipzig, Berlin, Vienna, Metz and Paris.

In 1700 she remarried, to a banker from Metz in Lorraine, and relocated there. Two years later, her husband Cerf Levy failed financially, losing not only his own fortune but hers as well. He died in 1712, leaving her a widow for a second time. [Liptzin, 1972, 14]

In her diaries, begun after her first husband's death in 1689, she describes key events in both Jewish and world history, such as the messianic fervor surrounding Sabbatai Zevi or the impact of the Swedish wars waged by King Charles XII. At the same time, she also describes day-to-day life among the Jewish inhabitants of the Rhine valley. Other scholars point to the fact that they constitute an early document in Yiddish, predating the rise of modern Yiddish literature, while still others note that they were written by a woman, a rarity for Jewish texts from that period.

Her diaries were left off in 1699, shortly before her second marriage, and resumed 1715–1719, after her second husband's death. [Liptzin, 1972, 15]

Glückel's twelve children by her first husband married into the most prominent Jewish families of Europe. [Liptzin, 1972, 14]

The handwritten manuscript of Glückel's diaries was kept by Glückel's children and grandchildren. It was created by Glückel's son Moshe Hamel who copied her original manuscript, and the copy was inherited first by Moshe's son Chayim Hamel (d. 1788) and then by members of the next generation, Yosef Hamel and Chayim Hamel Segal of Königsberg (now Kaliningrad). The manuscript was deposited in the Bavarian State Library in the second half of the nineteenth century. [Comments by David Kauffman, quoted by Rabinovitz 1929]

The Bavarian State Library manuscript was published as a book in 1892 by David Kauffman in Pressburg (Bratislava) under the name "Zikhroynes Glikl Hamel" (Yiddish: the Memoirs of Glikl Hamel). Bertha Pappenheim translated the Memoirs into German and published them in Vienna in 1910. An abridged translation into German with commentary by Alfred Feilchenfeld appeared in 1922. [Rabinovitz 1929, Note 1989] The first Hebrew translation was published in 1929 by Rabinovitz, who had also added detailed references for the many quotes often used by Glückel.

The Jewish Museum in Berlin has devoted an entire exhibit to Glückel of Hamelin, intended to provide a sense of what life was like for the Jews of Germany before their emancipation.

Sol Liptzin describes Glückel as "well versed in the legendary lore of the Talmud", familiar with the popular, ethically oriented Musar tracts, and "profoundly influenced by Tkhines, devotional prayers for women". "Her style," he writes, "had the charm of simplicity and intimacy and the qualities of sincerity, vividness and picturesqueness." [Liptzin, 1972, 15]

Bibliography

Original publication:

  • Zikhroynes Glikl Hamel Die Memoiren der Glückel von Hameln, 1645-1719. Herausg. von David Kaufmann. Frankfurt am Main, J. Kauffmann, 1896. 8vo. In Yiddish (in Hebrew letters), with introduction in German.

German translations:

  • "Die Memoiren der Glückel von Hameln" Aus dem Jüdisch-Deutschen von Bertha Pappenheim (Autorisierte Übertragung nach der Ausgabe von Prof. Dr. David Kaufmann, Wien 1910). Mit einem Vorwort von Viola Roggenkamp. Weinheim und Basel: Beltz Verlag, 2005.
  • Denkwürdigkeiten der Glückel von Hameln Aus dem Jüdisch-Deutschen übersetzt, mit Erläuterungen versehen und hrsg. von Alfred Feilchenfeld. Mit 25 Bildbeigaben. Berlin, Jüdischer Verlag, 1922.

Translation into English:

  • Memoirs of Glückel of Hameln translated by Marvin Lowenthal, 1977 (ISBN 0805205721)
  • The Life of Glückel of Hameln 1646-1724, written by herself. Translated from the original Yiddish and edited by Beth-Zion Abrahams, Yoselof 1963 (1962 Horovitz Publ. Co., London).

References

  • This article draws on the גליקל מהמלין in the Hebrew Wikipedia, retrieved February 22, 2004.
  • Liptzin, Sol, A History of Yiddish Literature, Jonathan David Publishers, Middle Village, NY, 1972, ISBN 0-8246-0124-6.
  • Rabinovitz, A.Z., Introduction to the Hebrew Translation of "Memories of Glikl," זכרונות גליקל, Dvir, Tel Aviv, 1929.
  • Note, Joris: Vanwege mijn hartepijn, De Brakke Hond, No. 81, 1989
  • Zemon Davis, Natalie, Women on the Margins: Three Seventeenth-Century Lives, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 1995

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