His/Her Story: A woman 'head of the synagogue'
By RENÉE LEVINE MELAMMED (Jerusalem Post)
As it turns out, the evidence available about women in the Greco-Roman Diaspora is distinctive and, at times, quite difficult to interpret.
Jews living in the Greco-Roman Diaspora in the period known as late antiquity (second/third centuries until the fall of the Empire in the fifth century) had experiences that differed considerably from those in the Land of Israel. This held true for women as well as men. As it turns out, the evidence available about women is distinctive and, at times, quite difficult to interpret.
One Greek inscription in particular has long attracted the attention of scholars in the field. This inscription is from Smyrna (modern-day Izmir), located in Asia Minor (modern Turkey), and was commissioned in the second or third century by a woman named Rufina.
While the name Rufina is Latin, the dedicator immediately identified herself by the Greek term Ioudaia. This term is unusual in inscriptions otherwise thought to be Jewish, and suggests that it was important for Rufina. It may even suggest that she wasn’t born Jewish, but converted at some point in her life. The second detail recorded was that she was the archisynagogos, the head (or possibly the president) of the synagogue.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Rufina the archisynagogos
RUFINA THE ARCHISYNAGOGOS: