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Gallery 3: Paradisus Iudaeorum, 1569–1648

“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 authored a book. Written 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., the book offers ethical instruction and advice on housekeeping, good family relations, and raising Jewish children. Rivke was likely tutored by her father, a rabbiRabbireligious leader of a Jewish congregation who is qualified to resolve issues on the basis of Halakhah. A rabbi heads the Jewish court (Hebrew: bet din, Yiddish: bezdin), teaches Torah, performs marriages, and certifies that foods conform to the requirements of kashrut., which would account for her knowledge of HebrewHebrewboth the Jewish sacred language of prayer and study (Yiddish: loshn-koydesh) and modern Hebrew (Hebrew: ivrit), which developed in the 19th century and became the official language of the State of Israel. and rabbinic literature. The memorial book of Prague’s Altneuschul refers to her as a teacher and preacher. Meynekes Rivke was printed in 1609 in Prague, where Rivke lived during the last years of her life.