Discover History, Art, Writings - Primary Sources from Biblical Times to the 21st Century Discover History, Art, Writings - Primary Sources from Biblical Times to the 21st Century

“The Posen Library’s digital platform (PDL) makes accessible little-known documents of the Jewish past that add enormously to the effectiveness of the classroom. Via a user-friendly website, professors and students can analyze the intimate letters between an early modern Jewish husband and wife, probe the meanings of a blessing warning of Jewish heresy, and investigate the life of a medieval midwife through her diary, among many other gems. The Posen Library opens a world of Jewish creativity.”
—NANCY SINKOFF, Professor of Jewish Studies and History at Rutgers University


Sewing the Shrouds (ca. 1780) from Jewish Burial Society (Artist Unknown).

Sewing the Shrouds (ca. 1780) from Jewish Burial Society (Artist Unknown). Credit: Jewish Museum in Prague.

Gender Studies, 1750–2005

The Posen Digital Library (PDL) features hundreds of text selections and images related to gender issues in Jewish life. In these 3–5 minute Teaching Clip videos available to use FREE in your lectures and classes, Professor Elisheva Carlebach, Columbia University, elucidates the gendered dimensions of Jewish life 1750–2005 drawing upon these sources. She looks at how women explored new conventions while confronting both abuse and choices in love (TC #1); the participation in death rituals for both men and women (TC#3); and in TC#5, strong Jewish women, both Ashkenazic and Sephardic, who were religious leaders 1750–1816.

Marriage and Its Ceremonies: Oppression or Enlightenment? Posen Library Teaching Clip #1

Gender Roles in Death Rituals: Posen Library Teaching Clip #3

Marriage and Its Ceremonies: Oppression or Enlightenment? Posen Library Teaching Clip #1

Marriage and Its Ceremonies: Oppression or Enlightenment? Posen Library Teaching Clip #1 examines a controversial topic in Jewish culture: Does the traditional Jewish marriage ceremony oppress women? Elisheva Carlebach explores gender differences, Jewish women’s freedom, love, sexuality, divorce, and inequality in Jewish laws from the Enlightenment through more modern times. In this video clip, Carlebach shows us a huppah (wedding canopy as well as a ceremony) from Germany in the mid-eighteenth century, and shares narratives about how women faced strict traditions and explored new conventions while confronting both abuse and choices in love.

Related PDL Readings – Register on the PDL to access. Registration is fast and free!

Suggested search terms on PDL for more related selections: emancipation, feminism, gender, sexism, women

Gender Roles in Death Rituals: Posen Library Teaching Clip #3

Gender Roles in Death Rituals: Posen Library Teaching Clip #3 discusses death and its customs in Jewish tradition. Elisheva Carlebach analyzes an image called Sewing the Shrouds, from a Jewish burial society (ḥevrah kadisha) in Prague around 1780. Carlebach shows that participation in this voluntary society, for men and for women, was considered a great honor and an act of ultimate generosity. The video clip also points out how gender roles were strictly defined and implemented and shows the transmission of traditions from the elderly to the young.

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Suggested search terms on PDL for more related selections: burial, death, funeral, kaddish, mourning

Jewish Women as Religious Leaders: Posen Library Teaching Clip #5

Jewish Women as Religious Leaders: Posen Library Teaching Clip #5

Jewish Women as Religious Leaders: Posen Library Teaching Clip #5 introduces us to Jewish women who served as religious models and leaders in the years 1750–1880. These strong women, both Ashkenazic and Sephardic, had influential roles as spiritual guides and teachers, despite gender restrictions that limited their public involvement. As Elisheva Carlebach shows in her talk about a portrait of Eva Frank (1754–1816), history tells us that not all Jewish women were positive role models. Frank, who led a controversial cult, was the daughter of Jakob Frank and his successor as leader of an offshoot of messianic Sabbateanism.

Related PDL Readings – Register on the PDL to access. Registration is fast and free!

Suggested search terms on PDL for more related selections: emancipation, feminism, gender, sexism, women

Tip for Teachers: : To avoid YouTube pre-roll ads, use the “insert” feature on Google Slides or PowerPoint when you link to the video on YouTube. Or play the Teaching Clip on our pages. FYI, here are brief videos on how to use YouTube videos in your Zoom sessionhow to insert a playable YouTube video into a Google Doc, and how to insert a playable YouTube video into PowerPoint 2020.

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