web analytics
August 22, 2014 / 26 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



Grace Aguilar: The Spirit of Judaism

LBJ-090712

Her family descended from Portuguese Marranos who had sought asylum in England in the eighteenth century. Grace Aguilar was born there at the onset of the nineteenth century (1816), and her remarkable work would exercise an impact on the historiography of Jewish life in the ensuing three decades of that century.

What made this young woman dedicate her short life to the study of Judaism and extolling its ethical, intellectual and theological values? Was it the impact of her family’s Marrano history? Perhaps the personal circumstances of her life contributed to the extraordinary focus of her philosophical and literary endeavors.

Grace Aguilar’s sickly youth necessitated her being educated at home, mainly by her parents. Her mother, a cultivated woman of strong religious feeling, trained her to study the Torah systematically; and when she was fourteen her father read aloud to her regularly, chiefly Jewish history. As a result, young Grace’s knowledge, especially in history and foreign literature, was quite extensive.

At the age of seven Grace started to write a diary, which she continued almost uninterruptedly until her death in 1847. Before she was twelve, this child prodigy had written a drama, Gustavus Vasa, undoubtedly under the influence of the ancient historical volume, Josephus Flavius, that had been read to her by her father in early childhood.

Grace Aguilar also wrote poems on religious Jewish subjects, which were published under the title The Magic Wreath. Her tales, founded on Marrano history, were widely read. The most popular of Grace Aguilar’s Jewish tales is The Vale of Cedars or The Martyr: A Story of Spain in the Fifteenth Century. This volume was written before 1835 and twice translated both into German and Hebrew. Her other stories founded on Jewish themes are included in a collection of nineteen tales, “Home Scenes and Heart Studies,” “The Perez Family,” “The Edict” and “The Escape,” “The Mother’s Recompense” and “Woman’s Friendship.”

Then came her scholarly endeavors – all on Jewish historical and theological themes. The first of Miss Aguilar’s religious works was a translation of the French version of Israel Defended, by the Marrano historian Orobio de Castro, closely followed by her own extensive historical study, The Spirit of Judaism, published in Philadelphia in 1842.

A second edition of this work by the author was issued posthumously in 1849 by the American Jewish Publication Society. Much later (in 1864), a third edition appeared in Cincinnati with an appendix containing thirty-two of her poems (bearing the dates 1838-1847).

In 1845 Grace wrote a series of portraits of Biblical and post-Biblical women entitled, The Women of Israel, soon followed by The Jewish Faith: Its Spiritual Consolation, Moral Guidance, and Immortal Hope. This volume was composed in the form of thirty-one letters, the last dated September 1846, one year before her death.

During the last year of her life, Grace Aguilar, suffering and feeble, continued to immerse herself in Jewish history, ultimately leaving behind an unfinished sketch of the “History of the Jews in England.”

In 1835 Ms. Aguilar had an attack of illness, from the effect of which she never recovered. Finally her increasing weakness necessitated change of air, and in 1847 she was taken on a Continental trip. Before her departure some Jewish ladies of London presented her with a gift and a touching address recounting her achievements on behalf of Judaism and Jewish women. She visited her elder brother at Frankfurt, and at first seemed to benefit from the change; but after a few weeks her condition deteriorated and she died in Frankfurt on 16 September 1847. She was buried there in the Jewish cemetery, the last line of “Woman of Valor” inscribed on her tombstone.

Grace Aguilar ended her life as she lived, with words from the Bible. She whispered as she lay dying: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him,” (Job 13:15).

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Grace Aguilar: The Spirit of Judaism”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Photo: Rotter.net / Tikonist
Live Updates: Ashdod Shul Hit by Rocket (Latest Update: 5:28 pm)
Latest Sections Stories
Teens-082214

As they fall upon us we go
To the WALL.

Twenties-082214-Girls

One minute you’re shaving shwarma off a pit, then the shwarma guy tells you he read a (fake) WhatsApp that the boys are dead.

Lewis-082214-Gaon

I probe a little deeper and Shula takes me into the world of phantom pains and prosthetic limbs.

Astaire-082214-Main

This went on until she had immersed eighty times, and then Hashem at last took pity upon her.

Because Menachem lives in Israel, he can feel the ruach in the air.

Perhaps you can reach a compromise during this news frenzy, whereby you will feel more comfortable while he can still follow the latest events.

Leon experienced the War of Independence from a soldier’s perspective, while remaining true to his Jewish ideals and beliefs.

Chabad of Arizona centers recently hosted an evening of remembrance to mark the 20th yahrzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

A CPE class at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in Brooklyn was tailor made for Orthodox participants.

“I didn’t choose the landscape; it chose me.”

Woe to us that we have to be put to death like common heathen and murderers!

More Articles from Prof. Livia Bitton-Jackson
LBJ-032814-Halberstam

Over the years there has been no shortage of reporting about Devorah Halberstam, Ari’s mother. Even in Israel, thousands of miles from the Halberstam home, there have been frequent references in the media to Ari’s mother. Do you know why?

When Hitler entered Prague in March 1939, many Czech Jews managed to escape to Palestine, including Alice’s twin Mariane and her families.

Hannah believed that one must learn about the evils of the past so that they aren’t repeated.

Who is Rachel Azaria? Would you have guessed that this dynamo is a religious, 35-year-old woman, mother of four children, ranging in ages from ten years to eight months?

The relatively young Eitam battalion has become instrumental in IDF Southern Command’s Division 80’s efforts to keep up with the ever-changing security situation in Sinai after the fall of the Mubarak regime – and the entry of terrorist elements to the region.

Eishet Chayil is a hymn customarily recited on Friday evenings before sitting down to the Shabbat evening meal. It is a twenty-two verse poem at the conclusion of the book of Mishlei, describing the woman of valor as the ideal wife and mother.

The Nazi officers and their wives were flattered to have the beautiful, poised Arab aristocrat at their parties.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/jewess-press/impact-women-history/grace-aguilar-the-spirit-of-judaism/2012/09/07/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: