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Space and Place: North African Jewish Widows in Late-Ottoman Palestine*

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Abstract During the nineteenth century, the number of Jews in Jerusalem soared, including Jews in the North African Jewish community, which witnessed a significant growth spurt. Within the Jewish community, the number of widows, both young and old, was significant—approximately one-third of all adult Jews. This paper focuses on the spatial organization and residential patterns of Maghrebi Jewish widows and their social significance in nineteenth-century Jerusalem. Although many widows lived with their families, for other widows, without family in the city, living with family was not an option and they lived alone. By sharing rented quarters with other widows, some sought companionship as well as to ease the financial burden; others had to rely on communal support in shelters and endowed rooms. Each of these solutions reflected communal and religious norms regarding women in general, and widows in particular, ranging from marginalization and rejection to sincere concern and action.

Affiliations: 1: Efrata College of Education Jerusalem Israel michalby@macam.ac.il

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