In Colette Sirat's book, Hebrew Manuscripts of the Middle Ages, I came
across a passing reference to the female scribe, Frommet, daughter of
Issacher Levi d'arwyler. The text she copied (a compendium of rules by
Mordecai ben Hillel) was dated 1454. Can anyone help with sources on
Frommet in specific, and on medieval female scribes in general?
>>> Marla Segol
>>> Assistant Professor of Religion, Jewish Studies
>>> Carleton University
On female scribes see A. M. Habermann, "Nashim Ma'atikot", Kiryat Sefer 13
(1936-1937), pp. 114-120. (Several points in this article require
revision). On Frommet see Michael Rigler, "Marat Paula ve-Marat Frommet
Ma'atikot Sefarim", Mabu'a 33 (1999), pp. 93-98.
Re female scribes-- see S. Zolty, AND ALL YOUR CHILDREN SHALL BE LEARNED,
JASON ARONSON Press
A.M. Habermann listed 19 pre-modern women scribes in an article in Kiryat
Sefer,13 (1939), ;;. 14-20. That list can be expanded:
Malka bat Menahem Zion copied a Semak in 1386 (Amsterdam -
Universiteitsbibliotheek MS Rosenthaliana 558)
Foigele bat Abraham Calimani copied part of a pinkas in Venice in 1603
(Jewish Theological Seminary Ms. 8869)
Another MS copied by Paula bat Abraham of Rome not listed by Habermann is
Moscow - Russian State Library, Ms. Guenzburg 618, Piskei ha-Ri"d copied in
For Arwyler read Ahrweiler (a district in the north of
Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts
Jewish National and University Library
POB 39105 Jerusalem, Israel 91390
We have information about Frommet of Arwyller (p.
79)and several other female scribes in our book, The
JPS Guide to Jewish Women, 600 B.C.E. - 1900 C.E. by
Emily Taitz, Sondra Henry, & Cheryl Tallan,
Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2003.
Cheryl Tallan firstname.lastname@example.org
Aviel Barclay says she is collecting material on the topic.
According to the traveller Ya'akov Sapir, who visited Yemen in 1859, a scribe named Miriam bat Benayah wrote a Pentateuch and added the following apology: Do not hold me to blame if you find a mistake, because I am breast-feeding.
See Michael Rigler's article on Benayah and his descendants, Pe'amim 64 (1995), p. 61; S.D. Goitein, The Yemenites, Jerusalem 1983, p. 255; Tsemah Kessar, Leshonenu 66 (2004), p. 165, n. 9.
Also quoted here, at note 10.