What is Niddah? Menstruation in Judaism – a lecture in the series Old and New Questions

Caspar Philips Jacobsz, Kobiety w mykwie, Amsterdam, 1783. Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana, Uniwersytet w Amsterdam

Niddah is the term used in Jewish tradition for a menstruating woman and, by extension, for menstruation, menstrual impurity, laws related to menstruation, and the like. The word derives from a Hebrew root (ndd/ndh) that pertains to “wandering” or “exclusion,” suggesting that a menstruating woman should be excluded from the community. The laws of “Niddah” affect observant Jews to this day.

In this presentation, we will explore their history from the Bible until today, and consider their impact on Jewish life in various ways, including questions regarding the place and role of women in synagogues, rituals, Jewish cemeteries, marital intimacy, reproductive medicine, and Jewish demography.

Evyatar Marienberg is an Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (USA). He is a historian of religions, having a particular focus on the study of beliefs and practices of lay Jews and Christians from various periods. His doctoral dissertation was devoted to the conceptualization of menstruation in Jewish and Christian cultures, with a particular interest in the Medieval and Early Modern periods. He published two books and many articles on the matter.





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The lecture is organized within the Global Education Outreach Program.

The lecture was made possible thanks to the support of the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture, the William K. Bowes, Jr. Foundation, and the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland.