According to one tradition, Eyleh Ezkerah (the Martyrology section of the Yom KippurThe holiest day of the Jewish year and the culmination of a season of self-reflection. Jews fast, abstain from other worldly pleasures, and gather in prayers that last throughout the day. Following Ne'ilah, the final prayers, during which Jews envision the Gates of Repentance closing, the shofar is sounded in one long blast to conclude the holy day. It is customary to begin building one's sukkah as soon as the day ends. service) was composed after the First Crusade in 1096.
As we remember the teachers and leaders who were martyred over the centuries, it is appropriate to remember a great teacher from the medieval period. Dulcie of Worms was martyred in 1196 after she witnessed the murder of her children by Crusader soldiers. Her bereaved husband memorialized her life in a poem based on Eshet HayilLit. "woman of valor" This 22 verse poem from Proverbs 31 is arranged as an acrostic and is often recited in Jewish households on Friday night. The poem describes the characteristics of a "good wife" and is also thought of as an allegory referencing the Shekhinah, Torah or Shabbat., the last chapter of the book of Proverbs describing the Woman of Valor.
Born around 1163, Dulcie was part of a well-known scholarly Franco-German family. One source states that she was the great-granddaughter of the biblical commentator Rashi. She married Rabbi Eliezer ben Yehudah of Worms, a leader of the Hasidei Ashenaz who is best known for his book of Jewish law, the Rokeach.
Dulcie was a learned and religious woman. She was involved in many synagogue activities. She made wicks for the synagogue candles, sewed forty TorahThe Five Books of Moses, and the foundation of all of Jewish life and lore. The Torah is considered the heart and soul of the Jewish people, and study of the Torah is a high mitzvah. The Torah itself a scroll that is hand lettered on parchment, elaborately dressed and decorated, and stored in a decorative ark. It is chanted aloud on Mondays, Thursdays, and Shabbat, according to a yearly cycle. Sometimes "Torah" is used as a colloquial term for Jewish learning and narrative in general. scrolls, attended synagogue regularly, coming early and staying late. She taught other women and led them in prayer in the women’s section. She also supported her husband’s students through her business ventures.
Rabbi Eliezer’s poem recounts that he was teaching his students a section of Genesis when two crusaders broke into his house. Dulcie was wounded and tried to getA writ of divorce. Traditionally, only a man can grant his wife a get. Liberal Jews have amended this tradition, making divorce more egalitarian. help. Her daughters were beheaded before her eyes. Then Dulcie herself was killed. Rabbi Eliezer and their son were seriously wounded and the son later died.
Rabbi Eliezer wrote an elegy for Dulcie as the introduction to his book Hokhmat Ha-Lev, Wisdom of the Heart, published in 1217.
May the memory of this remarkable woman be an inspiration to us. May she be remembered with all the other Jews of history who died al kiddush ha-ShemThe Jewish concept or commandment to sanctify (make holy) God’s name., as martyrs for God.
Originally published in New MenorahThe seeven-branched menorah stood in the Temple, and many present-day synagogues feature the menorah. Titus' arch depicts the Romans' sacking of the Temple and theft of the menorah. A nine-branched menorah called a Hanukkiyah is lit on Hanukkah to symbolize the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days., the quarterly journal of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, www.aleph.org, Autumn 1998.