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Fioretta Modena

MODENA, FIORETTA (Bat Sheva; 16th century), wife of Solomon Modena (1522 or 1524–1580) and very learned in Torah, Mishnah, Talmud, Midrash, Jewish law, especially Maimonides, and kabbalistic literature, including the Zohar. Fioretta's sister, Diana Rieti of Mantua, was equally well versed. Fioretta spared no expense or effort to find the best teachers for her grandson, *Aaron Berechiah (d. 1639), later a rabbi and kabbalist in Modena. Nor was she unique in this respect; Italian Jewish women regularly supervised the educations of their sons and grandsons, especially when fathers and grandfathers were preoccupied. At the age of 75, after the death of her husband, Fioretta set out to Palestine to live in Safed, the Jewish equivalent of monastic retirement. According to her Venetian nephew Leon *Modena (1571–1648), who met Fioretta and witnessed her signal learning when she passed through Venice, she died just before reaching her destination.


Aaron Berachiah of Modena, Ma'avar Yabbok (Vilna, 1860). fol. 7a; L. Modena, The Autobiography of a Seventeenth Century Venetian Rabbi: Leon Modena's Life of Judah (ed. and tr., Mark R. Cohen (1988)), 79.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.