Louise Hecht

Duration of fellowship
01. October 2010 bis 31. January 2011

Louise Hecht


Translating Jewish Tradition: Bertha Pappenheim (1859–1936) and Religious Writings for Women


Born into a well-to-do, orthodox Jewish family in the mid 19th century Vienna, Bertha Pappenheim subtly revolted against the two guiding principles of her upbringing – bourgeoisie and religious orthodoxy, – without completely forsaking them. As a religious Jewish woman, Pappenheim was bound by the laws and traditions of a male-dominated Jewish society that discriminated against women in practical, intellectual and religious concerns. To uphold the universality of religion, Pappenheim had to find strategies that would include her (as a woman) into a system that was based upon the exclusion of women.
In order to detect these strategies, the project seeks exploring Pappenheim’s life and her religious writings in the context of cultural translation. First of all, her role as a translator and cultural mediator of diverse feminist and religious texts shall be examined. Additionally, Pappenheim’s religious writings shall be analyzed as part of her subversive feminist activities (especially her battles against the suppressive religious establishment) as well as in connection with the emancipatory character of women’s devotional literature.



(u. a.): (Hg.), Haskalah – Aufklärung – Osvícenství: Jewish Enlightenment in the Czech Lands in a European Perspective, erscheint in: Jewish Culture and History [2010]; Ein jüdischer Aufklärer in Böhmen: Der Pädagoge und Reformer Peter Beer (1758–1838), Köln 2008; Modern Jewish Education between Ideological Premises and Political Interests, in: Shmuel Feiner and Israel Bartal (Hg.), The Varieties of Haskalah, Jerusalem 2005, 91–119 (Hebr.).

  • Lecture
Louise Hecht

Louise Hecht analysiert Bertha Pappenheims Leben als das einer subversiven, jüdischen Feministin, ihr literarisch-religiöses Werk und ihr Schaffen als Übersetzerin als eines im Kontext ihres kulturellen Umfelds. Obwohl Pappenheim im Laufe ihres Lebens auf diversen, subtilen Wegen gegen die religiöse und bürgerliche Wertewelt ihrer Jugend rebellierte, sagte sie sich niemals vollkommen von ihr los.