The Testament of Jitte, Daughter of Matthias Glückstadt, Altona, April 8, 1774

Source Description

Jitte Glückstadt, an unmarried Jewish woman in Altona, had her last will and testament recorded on April 8, 1774. A testament (from the Latin testare, to testify or bear witness to) enables a person to arrange what is to happen to one’s personal property after death, as well as the details of the burial and funeral ritual. Jitte Glückstadt performed this act. Two men came to her sickbed, heard her dictate her last will, and recorded it. The extant testament is not the Hebrew or Yiddish original, but rather a translation into German. This is noteworthy because in the 18th century, High German had not yet developed into the everyday language of German Jews. After the death of Jitte Glückstadt on July 8, 1774 The death date is known from the preserved gravestone of Jitte Glückstadt. See the Steinheim Institute‘s epigraph database for the Hamburg-Altona cemetery (Königstrasse): gravestone of Jette, daughter of Mattijahu ben Mosche Elasar., the translation was prepared for non-Jewish officials so that non-Jewish residents of Altona could be informed as to the provisions Jitte had made. The testaments of Jewish women and men were translated and delivered to non-Jewish officials only if there were tangible grounds. Such grounds might be that debts were greater than the estate [could meet]. In this way, Jewish or non-Jewish creditors would be informed as to whether they would have to forego payment or if there was a sufficient estate with which to settle the debts.
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Recommended Citation

The Testament of Jitte, Daughter of Matthias Glückstadt, Altona, April 8, 1774 (translated by Richard S. Levy), edited in: Key Documents of German-Jewish History, <> [May 20, 2024].