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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Glueckel von Hameln

b. 1646, Hamburg, Germany; d. 1724, Metz, France

From 1691 and intermittently through 1719, Glueckel von Hameln maintained a diary that now stands as a unique document of German Jewish life in the late seventeenth century and, more particularly, of the inner life of its author. Written in Yiddish, the diary—comprising seven books of memoirs (Zikhroynes)—interweaves family and social history with advice to her children. It also reveals the tensions of everyday Jewish life in a Christian culture. When the Jews were expelled from Hamburg in 1649, Glueckel’s family moved to Altona. They returned to their native city in 1657, where Glueckel, at the age of fourteen, married the merchant-banker Hayim von Hameln. The couple had twelve children. Hayim’s flourishing business provided a sumptuous lifestyle and social ties to the royal court. When he died in 1689, Glueckel assumed management of the family business. She remarried in 1700 but her new husband bankrupted them. Widowed again in 1712, she settled with a daughter in Metz. Glueckel is commemorated in a permanent exhibit at the Jewish Museum in Berlin.