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The unedited full-text of the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia
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RUFINA:

Smyrna Jewess; lived about the third century of the common era. Her name has been perpetuated in a Smyrniot Greek inscription which is unusually important for a knowledge of the Jewish culture of the period. Translated, the text in question reads as follows:

"The Jewess Rufina, ruler of the synagogue, built this tomb for her freedmen and her slaves. None other has the right to bury a body here. If, however, any one shall have the hardihood to do so, he must pay 1,500 denarii into the holy treasury and 1,000 denarii to the Jewish people. A copy of this inscription has been deposited in the archives."

This is the only instance, so far as is known, in which the office of ruler of the synagogue was held by a woman; and it is evident that Rufina was very wealthy, since she was able to provide so handsomelyfor slaves and household dependents. The act itself and the penalty for violation of the tomb are wholly in keeping with the customs of the time, and differ in no way from similar cases in the life of the pagan Greeks.

Bibliography:
  • S. Reinach, in R. E. J. vii. 161-166;
  • Schürer, Gesch. 3d ed., iii. 11.
S. S. Kr.
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