WSRP Research Associate 2017–18
Bar Ilan University
Enclosed Gardens Revealed: The Concept of Virginity in Medieval Jewish Culture
This project is a detailed and comprehensive historical study of virginity in Judaism, exposing its function as a determining factor of women’s identity, personal and social status, and as an essential religious category in medieval Jewish discourse.
Avital Davidovich-Eshed is a teaching fellow at the Gender Studies Program at Bar Ilan University, a research fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for the Study of Conversion and Inter-Religious Encounters at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
Dr. Davidovich-Eshed’s research concerns the history of women, gender and sexuality in medieval Jewish culture and the development of gendered categories of marital status in halakha (Jewish law), ritual, and literature. She is also interested in the various ways that gender was incorporated and used in the Jewish-Christian social dynamics and religious polemics.
Her doctoral dissertation, completed at the Department of History of the Jewish People at Tel Aviv University, investigated the concept of virginity in Ashkenazic Jewish culture in light of both traditional Jewish perceptions of virginity and the concept of virginity that developed in the medieval Christian theology.