Women Of A Russian Jewish Woman By Pauline Wengeroff
1364 WordsFeb 16, 20156 Pages
From the mid 1800’s to the beginning of the 1900’s, Jews in Imperial Russia experienced socio-economic change, and this was reflected in the institution of marriage. Jews began to gradually change their views about marriage, and specifically about marriage age, choice of partner, and the role of each partner in approaching their marriage. Although such change seemed inevitable, it was something new for a group which historically was so grounded in the upkeeping of religious and cultural traditions. As representative of the early beginnings of change in Jewish marriage customs in the mid 1800’s, Pauline Wengeroff describes the events surrounding both her and her older sisters’ marriages in the memoir, Rememberings, The World of a…show more content…
Jewish parents had strict control over whom their children married, and made arrangements through a matchmaker or marriage broker (Freeze, Jewish Marriage and Divorce, 12). Often times, the two parties which were to be married only met at the altar, when all marriage arrangements were completed by their parents (Id, 13). Marriage contracts without the permission of one’s father were punishable (14). However, in the nineteenth century, the matchmaker started becoming less and less popular, and parents began being more liberal with their children’s marriage arrangements. Young couples were now allowed to communicate prior to their marriage by writing letters and being allowed short and supervised meetings (23). Increasingly, young couples began to take marriage into their own hands without seeking the involvement of their parents.
The criteria for choosing a spouse underwent a gradual transformation between 1850-1900. Until 1850, Jewish families traditionally considered family history, how well the male knew his Jewish scriptures, and the female’s ability to run a household (Freeze, Jewish Marriage, 29-36). In her memoirs, Pauline Wengeroff notes that the main criterion which her potential groom was to be evaluated on was his knowledge of the Talmud. Her father says, “If the young man’s Talmud learning is good, the rest will fall into place” (127).
In the mid-nineteenth century, Jews began considering other factors. Some looked for matches