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Gallery 3: Paradisus Iudaeorum, 1565-1648

“Who has ever heard of or seen such a novelty? Has it ever happened in countless years that a woman has written something of her own accord?” This is how the printer of Meynekes Rivke (Rebecca’s Nurse) referred to Rivke bas Meir Tiktiner, the first Jewish woman known to have published a book. Meynekes Rivke, which she wrote in YiddishYiddishthe historic Jewish vernacular of Ashkenazi Jews, a fusion of German dialects, Hebrew and Aramaic, and Judeo-Romance and Slavic languages. The beginnings of Yiddish are in the Rhineland in the Middle Ages. About 13 million people spoke Yiddish before the Second World War., offers moral instruction and advises Jewish women on housekeeping, good family relations, and raising Jewish children. The book was first printed in 1609 in Prague, where she had died a few years earlier. Not only her name – Tiktiner refers to Tykocin, a town near Bialystok – but also some features of her Yiddish point to her possible Polish origins.