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Prof. Renée Levine Melammed

Women's Studies, Sephardic Jewry



Renée Levine Melammed


1973-1982       Brandeis University, Waltham, Mass.

                        Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies

                        M.A., 1978.  Ph.D., Feb., 1983

                        "Women in Spanish Crypto-Judaism, 1492-1520"

                        Director: Prof. Haim Beinart

1979-1982       Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel

                        Visiting Research Student in Jewish History

1969-1973       Smith College, Northampton, Mass. A.B., Religion


2012                Full Professor             

2012-2013       Member, Institute for Advanced Study, School of Historical Studies, Princeton, N.J.

2008-2012       Dean of the Graduate School

2005-2006       Visiting Professor in Judaic Studies Program and History Department, Yale University.

2002-               Associate Professor

                        Academic Editor, Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women’s Studies

1997-2005       Assistant Dean, Schechter Institute, Jerusalem

1996-2008       Head ofWomen's Studies(M.A.) and D.H.L. Programs, Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies

1996-1998       Head of General M.A. Program and Senior Lecturer, The Seminary of Judaic Studies in Jerusalem (Schechter Institute)

1995-1997       Adjunct Prof., Touro College, Jerusalem M.A. Program

1994-1996       Sr. Scholar, Clal Institute, New York

1993-1994       Research Associate and Visiting Lecturer, Harvard University, The Divinity School, 45 Francis Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

1991-1993       Scholar in Residence in Judaic Studies, Franklin and Marshall College, P.O. Box 3003, Lancaster, PA 17604

1990-1991       Fellow, Annenberg Research Institute, 420 Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19106


1995-1996       Lecturer, School for Overseas Students, Hebrew University.

1983-1990       Lecturer, History Department and Center for Studies in Sephardi and Oriental Studies, Ben Gurion University in the Negev, Beersheva

1987-1989       Researcher for Project relating to the de Boton Family,Misgav YerushalayimInstitute

1988                Lecturer, School for Overseas Students, Ben Gurion University in the Negev, Beersheva

1984-1985       Lecturer, Seminar Efrata for Teachers, Jerusalem.

1982-1983       Visiting Professor, History Department, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland

                        Adjunct Professor, American University, Wash. D.C.

1975-1979       Instructor in Hebrew Language, Hebrew Department, Brandeis University, Waltham, Mass.

Languages      Hebrew, Spanish, Ladino, French, Arabic, Judeo-Arabic.

Scholarships and Honors

2013                Canadian Jewish Book Award for Biography/Memoirs

2011-2014       Israel Science Foundation Grant for Project: Jewish Women in                                Mediterranean Society (based on Cairo Genizah documents)

2012-2014       Kekst Award for Excellence (Schechter Faculty Award)

2000                Recipient of (2) National Jewish Book Awards inWomen's Studiesand in Sephardic Studies

1999                Koret Foundation First Book Grant for Translation

1993-1994       Harvard Divinity School Fellowship

1991                American Philosophical Society Grant

1990-1991       Annenberg Research Institute Fellowship

1980-1982       National Foundation for Jewish Culture Doctoral Dissertation Grants

1979-1981       Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture Doctoral Scholarships

1979                Warburg Prize for Advanced Studies in Judaica, Hebrew University

1978-1979       Sachar Fellowship for International Studies, Brandeis University

1973-1978       Brandeis NEJS tuition scholarships/stipends

1972                Smith College Scholarship

Publications (1986-2004)


Heretics or Daughters of Israel: The Crypto-Jewish Women of Castile.  New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Editor, Lift Up Your Voice with Strength: Women’s Voices and Feminist Interpretation in Jewish Studies [Hebrew]. Yediot Ahronot, 2001. 

A Question of Identity: Iberian Conversos in Historical Perspective.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.


"Sixteenth Century Justice in Action:  The Case of Isabel López," Revue des Études Juives 145:1-2 (1986): 51-73.

"The Ultimate Challenge:  Safeguarding the Crypto-Judaic Heritage," Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research 53 (1986): 91-109.

"The Conversos of Cogolludo." In Proceedings of the Ninth World Congress of Jewish Studies, Division B, Vol. 1 (1986), 135-142.

"Noticias Sobre Los Ritos de Los Nacimientos y de la Pureza de las Judeo-Conversas Castellanas del Siglo XVI," El Olivo, 13: 29-30 (1989): 235-243.

"Some Death and Mourning Customs of Castilian Conversas."  In Exile and Diaspora, ed. A. Mirsky, A. Grossman, and Y. Kaplan, 157-167.  Jerusalem: Ben Zvi Institute, 1991.

"Sephardi Women in the Medieval and Early Modern Period." In Jewish Women in Historical Perspective, ed.Judith Baskin, 115-134.  Detroit:  Wayne State University Press, 1991.

"Transmission of Jewish Tradition by Spanish Conversas in the Sixteenth Century," [Hebrew].  In Society and Community Proceedings of the Second International Congress on the Sephardi-Oriental Jewish Heritage , ed. A. Haim, 161-172.  Jerusalem:Misgav Yerushalayim, 1992.

"Women in (Post-1492) Spanish Crypto-Jewish Society," Judaism 41:2 (Spring, 1992): 156-168.

"A Sixteenth Century Midwife and Her Encounter with the Inquisition."  In The Expulsion of the Jews: 1492 and After, eds. Raymond B. Waddington and Arthur H. Williamson, 53-72.  New York: Garland Publishing Inc., 1994.

"Nashim bi-Hevrat Ha-Anusim bi-Sefarad bi-Shalhei ha-Meah Ha-16."  In A View into the Lives of Women in Jewish Societies [Hebrew], ed. Yael Azmon, 209-222.  Jerusalem: Zalman Shazar Center, 1995.

"Hommes et Femmes: Leur Role Respectif Dans la perpetuation de l'identite juive au sein de Conversa." In Mémoires juives d'Espagne et du Portugal, ed.Esther Benbassa, 39-50.  Paris: Les Editions du Cerf, 1996.

"Judaizing Women in Castile: A Look at their Lives Before and After 1492." In Religion in the Age of Exploration, eds. M. Mor and B. Le Beau, 15-37.  Omaha: Creighton University, 1996.

"Les Femmes crypto-juives face a l'Inquisition espagnole: leur role dans la transmission du marranisme."  In Transmission et passages en monde juif, ed.Esther Benbassa, 229-245.  Paris: Editions du Cerf, 1997.

"He Said, She Said: A Woman Teacher in Twelfth Century Cairo," AJS Review 22:1 (1997): 19-35.

"Castilian Conversas at Work."  In Women at Work in Spain from the Middle Ages to Early Modern Times, eds. Marilyn Stone and Carmen Benito-Vessels, 81-100. N.Y.: Peter Lang Publishing, 1998.

"Rabbinic Contemporaries of R. Joseph Karo: The Sixteenth Century de Botons."  In Studies in a Rabbinic Family: the de Botons, eds. M. Ben-Sasson, W. Z. Harvey. Y. Ben-Naeh and Z. Zohar, 115-127. Jerusalem:Misgav Yerushalayim, 1998.

"R. Abraham de Boton and Lehem Rav: an Historical Analysis."  In ibid, 129-139.

"Judaizers and Prayer in Sixteenth Century Alcázar." In Iberia and Beyond: Hispanic Jews Between Cultures, ed. Bernard Cooperman, 273-295. Univ. of Delaware Press, 1998.

"María López: Mother and Daughter of the Inquisition." In Women in the Inquisition: Spain and the New World, ed. Mary Giles, 53-72.  Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.

"A  Methodological Study: The Descendants of the Conversos in New Mexico and Manifestations of their Heritage," [Hebrew] Pe'amim 76 (1999): 103-114.

with Uri Melammed, "R. Asnat, Rosh Yeshiva from Kurdistan," [Hebrew]  Pe'amim  82 (2000), 163-178.

"Castilian Conversas at Work." Proceedings of the Twelfth World Congress of Jewish Studies, Division B, Jerusalem (2000), 101-107.

"Crypto-Jewish Women Facing the Spanish Inquisition: Transmitting Religious Practices, Beliefs, and Attitudes."  In Christians, Muslims and Jews in Medieval and Early Modern Spain: Interaction and Social Change, eds. Mark D. Meyerson and Edward D. English. University of Notre Dame, 2000.

"Life Cycle Rituals of Spanish Crypto-Jewish Women," and "Visionary Experiences Among Spanish Crypto-Jewish Women," (Translations with Commentary) in Judaism in Practice: From the Middle Ages through the Early Modern Period, ed. Lawrence Fine, 143-154; 348-352Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001.

Book Reviews

Timothy Oelman, ed. and trans. Marrano Poets of the Seventeenth Century:  An Anthology of the Poetry of Jöao Pinto Delgado, Antonio Enríquez Gómez, and Miguel de Barrios (Associated University Presses, 1982).  AJS Review 9:2 (Fall, 1984).

Benjamin Gampel, The Last Jews on Iberian Soil (University of California Press, 1989).   JQR 83:1-2 (1992).

José Faur, In the Shadow of History:  Jews and Conversos at the Dawn of Modernity (State University of New York Press, 1992). AJS Review 19:2 (1994).

Miscelánea de Estudios Arabes y Hebraicos 37-38 and 40 (Granada: Universidad de Granada, 1991).  Hebrew Studies 35 (1994).

Jane Gerber, The Jews of Spain  A History of the Sephardic Experience (N.Y.: The Free Press, 1992).  AJS Review 20:1 (1995).

David M. Gitlitz, Secrecy and Deceit: The Religion of the Crypto-Jews (Phil.: JPS, 1996).  AJS Review 22:2 (1998): 270-273.

Miriam Bodian, Hebrews of the Portuguese Nation: Conversos and Community in Early Modern Amsterdam.    Bloomington, Ind.: University of Indiana Press, 1997, Paamim 81 (1999): 161-162.

Ruth Lamdan, A Separate People: Jewish Women in Palestine, Syria and Egypt in the Sixteenth Century.  Leiden: Brill, 2000. Zion 66:4 (2001): 543-546.

Recent Publications (2004-2014)


An Ode to Salonika: The Ladino Verses of Bouena Sarfatty. Indiana University Press, 2013.


“The Memoirs of a Partisan from Salonika,” Nashim 7 (2004): 151-173.

“The Influence of Moslem Society on the Jewish Woman in Light of Documentation from the Cairo Geniza” [Hebrew], Masekhet (2004): 33-43.

“Ladino Speaking Women of the 20th Century,” Studies in Honor of Denah Lida, ed. Mary G. Berg and Lanin A. Gyurko, 391-402. Potomac, Md.: Scripta Humanistica, 2005.

“The World of Witnesses and the Holy Tribunal: 15th Century Trials of Castilian Judaizers,” in Voices from the Bench: the Narratives of Lesser Folk in Medieval Trials, ed. Michael Goodich, 43-66. Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

 “Bouena Sarfatty: Her Life and Works in Ladino” [Hebrew], Proceedings of the Sixth International Congress of Misgav Yerushalayim: Languages and Literatures of Oriental and Sephardi Jews, eds. Yaakov Ben-Tullila, Efraim Hazan andDavid Bunis, 120-127. Jerusalem, 2007.

“Women in Medieval Jewish Societies,” Women and Judaism: New Insights and Scholarship, ed. Frederick E. Greenspahn, 91-115. New York: New York University Press, 2009.

"A Voice from Salonika,"  At Home in Many Worlds: Reading, Writing and Translating fromChinese and Jewish Cultures  Essays in Honour of Irene Eber, ed. Raoul David Findeisen, Gad C. Isay, Amira Katz-Goehr, Yuri Pines and Lihi Yariv-Laor, 285-294. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2009.

"Les Mémoires d’une résistante de Salonique," Itinéraires sépharades: Complexité et diversité des identities, ed. Esther Benbassa, 205-222. Paris: PUP-Sorbonne, 2010.

"Judeo-conversas and Moriscas in sixteenth-century Spain: a study of parallels," Jewish History 24 (2010): 155-168.

"Identities in Flux: Iberian Conversos at Home and Abroad", Late Medieval              

 Jewish Identities: Iberia and Beyond, ed. Carmen Caballero-Navas and Esperanza Alfonso, pp. 43-53. Palgrave, 2010.

"Tradition and Modernity in the Eyes of a Ladino Poetess from Salonika,"           

 El Prezente 4 (2010(: 177-195.

"Adapting and Adopting: Conversos and the Sephardi Diaspora." Hispania              

 Judaica 8 (2011): 85-94.

          “The Jewish Woman in Medieval Iberia,” in The Jew in Medieval Iberia 1100-1500, ed. Jonathan Ray, 257-285. Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2012.

"Spanish Women's Lives as Reflected in the Cairo Genizah," Hispania Judaica 10:2 (forthcoming).

The Jews of Moslem Spain, A Gendered Analysis, Hispania Judaica (forthcoming).

"A Look at Women's Lives in Cairo Genizah Society," Darchei Noam: Festschrift in honor of Norman Stillman (Brill), submitted, June 2014.

 "Witnesses from Medieval Mediterranean Society: The Reliability of Jewish Women's Narratives from the Cairo Genizah," Jews and Christians in the Greco-Roman World (Brown Judaic Studies). In preparation.

Encyclopedia Entries

“Marranos,” Encyclopedia of Religion, 2nd ed. Macmillan Reference, 2004.

“Asenath Barazani,” “Bouena Sarfatty Garkinkle,” “Conversas,” “Women in Spain,”

entries in Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia, ed.Moshe Shalvi Jerusalem, 2006.

"Asenath Barazani Mizrahi, Avraham de Boton, Conversas, Wuhsha, Woman (Medieval- Muslim World and Spain)", Encyclopedia Judaica, revised edition, 2006.

Entry: Asenath Barazani. Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World, ed. Norman Stillman. Leiden: Brill.

"Inquisition, Spain." The Cambridge Dictionary of History, Religion and Culture, ed. Judith Baskin. Cambridge University Press (forthcoming).

Book Reviews since 2002

Janet Leibman Jacobs, The Legacy of the Crypto-Jews. Berkeley: University of Californua Press, 2002.  Journal of Ecclesiastical History 55:1 (January 2004): 169-170.

Miriam Bodian, Dying in the Law of Moses: Crypto-Jewish Martyrdom in the Iberian World. Indiana, Indiana University Press, 2007. Journal of the American Academy of Religion 76:4 (2008): 1031-1033.

S.D. Goitein and Mordechai A. Friedman. India Traders of the Middle Ages: Documents from the Cairo Geniza (“India Book”). Leiden: Brill, 2008. AJS Review 34 (2010): 129-132.

Inquisitorial Inquiries: Brief Lives of Secret Jews and Other Heretics. Edited and translated by Richard L. Kagan and Abigail Dyer. Bulletin of Spanish Studies, 90:7

James S. Amelang, Parallel Histories: Muslims and Jews in Inquisitorial Spain.  Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. 2013. American Historical Review (forthcoming).

Active Participation in Academic Conferences since 2004

"The Lives of Iberian Conversos: A Gendered Analysis," in Woman and Religious Conversion in the Early Modern Era, UCLA, February 2004.

"Male and Female Witnesses in the Inquisitorial Court," Medieval Society, Culture and Literature, Bar Ilan University, February, 2005.

"Gender and the Spanish Inquisition," To Research Women, Haifa University, March, 2005.

"The Partisan from Salonika: Creativity and Destruction in the 20th Century," 14th World Congress of Jewish Studies, Jerusalem, August, 2005.

"The Destruction of Salonika though the Eyes of a Ladino Poet," AJS Conference, Washington D.C., December 2005. 

"Women in Medieval Jewish Societies," in New Scholarship on Women and Judaism, Florida Atlantic University, February 2006.

"Destruction and Creativity: Bouena Sarfatty, Ladino Poet-Partisan of Salonika," in On the Lips of Miriam's Well, Vanderbilt University, March 2007.

"Identities in Flux: Iberian Conversos at Home and Abroad," in Late Medieval Jewish Identities, Granada University, November 2007.

"Adapting and Adopting: Conversos and the Sephardi Diaspora," The Expulsion from Spain and Destruction in Portugal, Hispania Judaica-Hebrew University, January 2009.

"Crypto-Jewish and Crypto-Muslim Women in 16th Century Spain," Hidden Identities, Ben Zvi Institute, June 2009.

"Jewish Philanthropic Activities in the Medieval Women’s World," in Jewish Women and Philanthropy, Tulane University, July 2009.

"Tradition and Modernity in the Eyes of a Ladino Poet from Salonika," 15th World Congress of Jewish Studies, August, 2009.

"Gender and Jewish Identity in Iberian Converso Society," Gender and Jewish Identity, Bar Ilan University, June 2010.

 "Judeo-Conversas and Moriscas in 16th Century Spain," European Association of Jewish Studies Conference, Ravenna, July 2010.

"Re-assessing Jewish Women's Lives in Medieval Iberia," AJS, Boston, Dec. 2010.

Plenary Lecture: "Assessing Jewish Women's Lives in Medieval Spain," The Position and Self-Image of Women in Sefardi Sources, Society Sefarad, Hebrew University and Ben Zvi Institute, Jerusalem, January 2011.

Plenary Lecture, European Association of Biblical Studies, August 8, 2011, Thessaloniki, Greece: An Ode to Salonika: Historical and Poetic Perspectives

"Spanish Women's Lives as reflected in the Cairo Genizah," Conference in honor of Yom Tov Assis's Retirement, Jerusalem, Israel, February, 2012.

 "The Jews of Moslem Spain, A Gendered Analysis." Society Sefarad, Evora, Portugal June 2012.

"Family, Society and Daily Life in 20th Century Salonika as reflected in the Coplas of Bouena Sarfatty," Society Sefarad, Girona, Spain, June 2013.

"Jewish Women in Mediterranean Society: A Preliminary Appraisal," World Congress of Jewish Studies, Jerusalem, Israel, August 2013.

"Memoirs of  Bouena Sarfatty, a Partisan from Salonika," Schechter Institute Conference on Writing and Remembering, March 2014.

"Jewish Women in Mediterranean Society and the Influence of Islamic Culture (950-1250)," EAJS, Paris, France, July 2014.

Additional Academic and Public Activities

Academic Editor as of 2001: Nashim, twice annually, Indiana University Press.

Bi-monthly Column, "His Story/Her Story," The Jerusalem Post Friday Magazine since February, 2011.

Chair, Steering Committee, Society Sefarad Conference, January 2011.

Organizer of 9 Annual Women's Studies Conferences, Schechter Institute, 2007- present.

Scholar in Residence, Houston, Texas JCC, February 2007.

Public Lecture, Yale University, History and Hellenic Studies Departments, March 2006.

Annual Memorial Lecture, Yedida Kalfon Stillman, University of Oklahoma, February 2006. "Jewish Women's Voices from Medieval Egypt: Reflections from the Cairo Genizah."

Invited lecturer, LIMMUD, Nottingham, England, December 2004.

Guest Lecturer, City of Zaragoza and University of Zaragoza, March 2004.

"La mujer judía desde ayer al hoy" in series, Voces y espacios femeninos.

Visiting Scholar, Detroit Conservative Communities, November, 2003.

Participant in Ford Foundation Funded Group on Religious Accommodation, 2000 (Columbia University); 2001 (Wassenaar, Netherlands).

Various University Lectures

UC, San Diego; JTS; Yale University; SUNY, Binghamton; University of Oklahoma; Brandeis University; University of Toronto; Smith College; University of Colorado;

UCLA; University of Oregon; Portland State Vanderbilt University; Memphis State; University; University of Zaragoza, Spain; CUNY; Stanford University; Yale University; Villanova University, Bar Ilan University, Dinur Center, Haifa University.

Membership in Societies

AJS, Society Sefarad, World Union of Jewish Studies, EAJS


The Schechter Institutes, Inc.:

Box 3566, P.O.Box 8500, Philadelphia, PA, 19178-3566, Tel: 1-866-830-3321,

Jerusalem Campus: Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies:

4 Avraham Granot St., Jerusalem, Israel, 91160, Tel: 972-747-800-600,,

Tel Aviv Campus: Neve Schechter – Legacy Heritage Center for Jewish Culture:

42 Chelouche St., Neve Zedek, Tel: 03-5170358,,

The Schechter Institutes, Inc.:

Box 3566, P.O.Box 8500, Philadelphia, PA, 19178-3566, Tel: 1-866-830-3321,

Jerusalem Campus: Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies:

4 Avraham Granot St., Jerusalem, Israel, 91160, Tel: 972-747-800-600,,

Tel Aviv Campus: Neve Schechter – Legacy Heritage Center for Jewish Culture:

42 Chelouche St., Neve Zedek, Tel: 03-5170358,,