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The position of women according to the Cairo Geniza documents / עמדת האשה לפי כתבי הגניזה
שלמה דב גויטיין and S. D. Goitein
Proceedings of the World Congress of Jewish Studies / דברי הקונגרס העולמי למדעי היהדות
Vol. ד, VOLUME II / כרך ב (תשכ"ה / 1965), pp. 177-179
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23528141
Page Count: 3
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In Hebrew literature, men write about women. In the Cairo Geniza documents, the women themselves talk to us. They write or dictate letters or are quoted in the letters of their male relatives. They appear in courts, where their depositions are preserved by the court clerks. They make wills which reveal to us what was near to their hearts. In many contracts of sale or partnership one or both of the contractors were women. Most important of all: the engagement and marriage settlements clearly evidence the economic and social position of the bride. Marriage contracts normally stipulated that the husband was not allowed to marry an additional wife. The courts presupposed the existence of such a condition, when the contract was not available. The prohibition of concubinage with slave girls favourably distinguished Jewish (and Christian) spouses from Muslim wives. A number of marriage contracts give the right of choosing the domicile to the female partner. In many agreements, a wife is empowered to conduct her financial affairs without requiring the consent of her husband. In some contracts she is even permitted to retain her income from work, although her husband is under the obligation to maintain and clothe her. The favourable economic and social position of women is reflected also in a certain measure of participation in the spiritual and communal life of the Jewish congregations. Basically, however, the world of the Cairo Geniza was a stag society.
Proceedings of the World Congress of Jewish Studies / דברי הקונגרס העולמי למדעי היהדות © 1965 World Union of Jewish Studies / האיגוד העולמי למדעי היהדות