HAMELN, GLÜCKEL OF (Glückel von Hameln):

German diarist; born about 1646 in Hamburg; died 1724 at Metz. In 1649, when the German Jews were expelled from Hamburg, Glückel's parents moved to Altona; but in consequence of the Swedish invasion of that city in 1657 they returned to Hamburg. Glückel frequented the "ḥeder" and was made acquainted with the Holy Scriptures as well as with the German-Jewish literature of the time. When barely fourteen she was married to Ḥayyim Hameln, and settled in the small town of Hameln. After a year the young couple moved to Hamburg, and lived there at first in modest circumstances, which by their industry were soon greatly improved. For a time they were associated with Jost Liebmann, afterward court jeweler to the Great Elector.

Glückel had six sons and as many daughters, whom she brought up very carefully and married to members of the best Jewish families in Germany. Her eldest daughter was married to a son of the wealthy court Jew Elias Gompertz at Cleve, and the wedding (1674) was celebrated in the presence of members of the electoral family of Brandenburg.

In 1689 Ḥayyim Hameln died, and Glückel was left with eight young children, the four others being already married. Besides their education she had to direct the large business left by her husband, which she managed with great success. She had planned, after she should have married all her children, to spend the remainder of her life in Palestine, but heavy losses in business changed her plans, and at the age of fifty-four she married the wealthy banker Cerf Levy of Metz (1700). Unfortunately, one year after the marriage Levy lost both his own fortune and that of his wife, and Glückel, hitherto accustomed to opulence, became dependent upon her husband's children. After the death of Levy (1712) she settled in the home of her daughter Esther, wife of Moses Krumbach-Schwab of Metz. Here she passed the last years of her life, occupied with the writing of her memoirs.

Glückel left an autobiography consisting of seven books written in Judæo-German interspersed with Hebrew, in which she relates her own varied experiences and many important events of the time. She often adds homiletic and moral stories of some length, taken partly from Midrash and Talmud, partly from Judæo-German books, which evidence wide reading. Her son, Moses Hameln, rabbi of Baiersdorf and son-in-law of the court Jew Samson Baiersdorf, copied the whole work from his mother's manuscript, and from this copy David Kaufmann edited it. The work contains most valuable information about the life of the German Jews, especially in Hamburg and Altona.

  • Die Memoiren der Glückel von Hameln, edited, with an introduction, by D. Kaufmann, Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1896;
  • A. Feilchenfeld, Die Aelteste Gesch. der Juden in Hamburg, Breslau, 1899.
D. A. Fe.
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