Gluckel of Hameln’s memoirs
Gluckel of Hameln was a Jewish woman from Hamburg who lived in the seventeenth century. She wrote her lengthy memoirs in Yiddish. Her memoir is regarded to be one of the most important documents for European Jewish history written by a Jewish woman. The diary or the memoirs are addressed to her fourteen children. In 1690, Gluckel became a widow after the death of her husband and the memoirs were a therapeutic way to heal her wounded heart. The diary was used to take away her sad thoughts and to get her through her sadness. She states “I am not writing this book in order to preach to you, but, as I have already said, to drive away the melancholy that comes with the long nights …”However, in her diary she informs her children that the diary was not a book of morals but one to include them in her life experiences, memories and life. In her memoirs, Gluckel explains all what happened in her life. She also explains the way she directed the financial and personal destinies of her children, how she conducted her trade business with the intention of promoting the welfare of her family.
Gluckel's diary gives the reader the understanding of the typical life of what a widowed Jewish woman faced in a Christian dominated Germany. It’s a vivid description of what happened to the Jews of her time accounting the personal and public perspective in the 17th and 18th century. In her diary she reveals the fear she lived with, as a mother would have over her children. She also explains the relationship she experienced from her first and second husband and the responsibilities she faced as a trader.
Gluckel’s memoir are arranged to describe her life in seven books. The first four books describe her mourning of her first husband’s death in 1689. The fifth book was written in her second marriage in 1690 and the sixth was written in 1702. The book was written after she realized of her second husband’s bankruptcy. The final book was written in 1715 in her second widowhood and before she died in 1719. The chronological arrangement of the seven books helps the reader to understand what faced the Jews of her time. The memoirs give a clear description from a social, cultural and economic perspective of a Jewish. She also describes about Christianity, which was the main religion in Germany in the 17 and 18th century.
Gluckel played a great role as a Jewish mother and maintained her culture. It is typical of the Jewish life histories were recorded to assist the following generations on how to live and explain where they came from. Her memoirs used loving and motherly words like dear children and beloved children. The Christian style of raising her family and the history gives the reader the clear explanation of her unique type of memoirs and stories. However Gluckel's blend of memoir borrowed from the Christian life history to record events in the books. However, atypical of the Christian way of recording things, she used her writing to...