(c. 16th century)
After the Spanish
Inquisition in 1492, Benvenida Arabanel fled to Naples. She married
her cousin, Samuel
Abrabanel and they had six children.
Samuel soon became the head of the Jewish community in Naples, and
Benvenida became a teacher for the Spanish viceroy's daughter, Eleonora.
Eleonora married the Duke of Tuscany, and Benvenida maintained her relationship
with the royal family.
Although Benvenida and the Duchess Eleonora were close
friends, the Duke of Tuscany persisted in allowing the expulsion of
Jews from the southern part of Italy. Samuel and Benvenida were forced
to flee again, and they lived out the rest of their lives in a northern
peninsula of Italy.
After Samuel Arabanel's death, Benvenida inherited
his estate and she became an extremely well known businesswoman. She,
like many other wealthy Jews, gave a significant amount of her earnings
to charity and to Talmudic scholars. After her death in 1560, she was remembered as a true
Woman of Valor.
Sources: Taitz, Emily,
Sondra Henry, Cheryl Tallan. TheJPS
Guide to Jewish Women. PA: Jewish
Publication Society of America, 2003.