Princess or prisoner? : Jewish women in Jerusalem, 1840-1914

Margalit Shilo

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


An in-depth look at the lives of religious Jewish women in Jerusalem at a transitional moment in its history.

This is a fascinating journey into the world of women in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community of Jerusalem toward the end of Ottoman rule in the Holy Land. Until now, the story of life in the Land of Israel in this period has been told exclusively from the male viewpoint — a story of religious observance and fulfillment confined to the male world of Torah study and prayer.

Margalit Shilo sheds new light on female society of the time, a subject nearly untouched by historians. Through painstaking research, Shilo has unearthed a wealth of primary sources, including women’s memoirs, letters and the contemporary Jewish press.

The author weaves together the different threads that made up the world of ultra-Orthodox women in Jerusalem: the experience of immigration to the Land of Israel, marriage, the family unit, economic and philanthropic activities, and female scholarship. She also takes a hard look at the adversities of women’s lives, such as desertion, poverty and prostitution. By revealing the unheard, unseen female voice, Shilo paints a new and lively picture of Jewish society in Jerusalem around the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationWaltham, Mass
PublisherBrandeis University Press
Number of pages360
ISBN (Print)1-58465-483-X
StatePublished - 2005

Publication series

NameBrandeis series on Jewish women
PublisherThe Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry


  • Jewish women – Education – Israel – Jerusalem
  • Jewish women – Israel – Jerusalem – History – 19th century
  • Jewish women – Israel – Jerusalem – History – 20th century
  • Jewish women – Israel – Jerusalem – Social conditions – 19th century


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