Presenter Information

Lois Dubin, Smith College

Description

The presentation discusses a letter from Relle [Rachele] Morschene (1770-1844) of Trieste to Chief Rabbi Raffael Natan Tedesco, written in the throes of her three-year long effort to extricate herself from her marriage to husband Lucio Luzzatto (1755-1801). From 1793 to 1796, Morschene pursued separation and civil divorce through the Habsburg courts at the same time as a Jewish religious divorce. Indeed, she was one of the first European Jewish women to seek and obtain a civil divorce. Her legal situation was novel because Jews in the Habsburg Monarchy were among the first to be subjected to civil marriage regulation by a modern state. In medieval and early modern Europe, Jews had generally followed their own religious law (Halakhah) for matters of marriage and divorce. With the Marriage Patent of 1783, the Habsburg Monarchy was the first European Catholic state to define marriage as civil and to apply civil law and state jurisdiction to the marriages of all its subjects. However, it did not thereby create purely civil marriage procedures: marriage ceremonies were still only religious, and civil divorce was permitted only to those who were allowed to divorce by their own religion. Thus, Morschene could not get divorced civilly until Rabbi Tedesco assured the civil court that she was permitted a Jewish religious divorce.

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Start Date

23-8-2006 11:00 AM

Location

Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT

 
Aug 23rd, 11:00 AM

“The first duty of nature is to preserve life” A Jewish Woman’s Plea for Divorce in Late 18th-century Trieste

Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT

The presentation discusses a letter from Relle [Rachele] Morschene (1770-1844) of Trieste to Chief Rabbi Raffael Natan Tedesco, written in the throes of her three-year long effort to extricate herself from her marriage to husband Lucio Luzzatto (1755-1801). From 1793 to 1796, Morschene pursued separation and civil divorce through the Habsburg courts at the same time as a Jewish religious divorce. Indeed, she was one of the first European Jewish women to seek and obtain a civil divorce. Her legal situation was novel because Jews in the Habsburg Monarchy were among the first to be subjected to civil marriage regulation by a modern state. In medieval and early modern Europe, Jews had generally followed their own religious law (Halakhah) for matters of marriage and divorce. With the Marriage Patent of 1783, the Habsburg Monarchy was the first European Catholic state to define marriage as civil and to apply civil law and state jurisdiction to the marriages of all its subjects. However, it did not thereby create purely civil marriage procedures: marriage ceremonies were still only religious, and civil divorce was permitted only to those who were allowed to divorce by their own religion. Thus, Morschene could not get divorced civilly until Rabbi Tedesco assured the civil court that she was permitted a Jewish religious divorce.

This presentation is for the following text(s):

Click here to view the video