The Memoirs of Glückel of Hameln
Begun in 1690, this diary of a forty-four-year-old German Jewish widow, mother of fourteen children, tells how she guided the financial and personal destinies of her children, how she engaged in trade, ran her own factory, and promoted the welfare of her large family. Her memoir, a rare account of an ordinary woman, enlightens not just her children, for whom she wrote it, but all posterity about her life and community. Gluckel speaks to us with determination and humor from the seventeenth century. She tells of war, plague, pirates, soldiers, the hysteria of the false messiah Sabbtai Zevi, murder, bankruptcy, wedding feasts, births, deaths, in fact, of all the human events that befell her during her lifetime. She writes in a matter of fact way of the frightening and precarious situation under which the Jews of northern Germany lived. Accepting this situation as given, she boldly and fearlessly promotes her business, her family and her faith. This memoir is a document in the history of women and of life in the seventeenth century.