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Families, Rabbis and EducationEssays on Traditional Jewish Society in Eastern Europe$
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Shaul Stampfer

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9781874774853

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781874774853.001.0001

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The Social Implications of Very Early Marriage

The Social Implications of Very Early Marriage

(p.7) One The Social Implications of Very Early Marriage
Families, Rabbis and Education

Shaul Stampfer

Liverpool University Press

This chapter discusses premature or very early marriage. In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, many east European Jews married off their children at the age of 13, 12, or even younger. They saw this practice as a typical characteristic of traditional east European Jewish society. However, it was common only in one sector or class of the Jewish community — the upper class — a group that included the wealthy and the learned. Most of the Jewish community, the simple masses, were unable to allow themselves the ‘luxury’ of early marriage. Their children had to wait and save up until they had sufficient resources to set up a new household and until they were relatively certain that they could support themselves. The chapter then looks at the reasons for the popularity of very early marriage among east European Jews in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, tracing the connections between early marriage and the social needs of the Jewish community. It also analyses Jewish marital patterns.

Keywords:   premature marriage, very early marriage, east European Jews, east European Jewish society, Jewish community, upper class Jews, social needs, Jewish marital patterns

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