From food and social justice to Holocaust memory and American history, the University of Colorado Boulder Peak to Peak series brings CU Boulder scholars into conversation with audiences and communities across Colorado and beyond. 

Exploring influential historical figures and events and enduring human questions, these online learning opportunities are offered through the CU Boulder Program in Jewish Studies in partnership with the Office for Outreach and Engagement Arts and Humanities Initiative and communities and organizations across Colorado including: Corazón de Trinidad Creative DistrictGarfield Public Library District, Trinidad Carnegie Public Library, Western Colorado University, Aspen Jewish CongregationBoulder JCCKavod on the Road, and Temple Aaron in Trinidad.

"Better Widowed than Married”: 
Conversa Women in Early Modern Europe
Professor Rebecca Wartell
University of Colorado Boulder

May 24, 2021
Peak to Peak Webinar

7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. (MDT)


The link for the Zoom webinar will be sent via email within one week of event.  RSVP is required to receive link.


The mass forced conversion of Spanish and Portuguese Jews before 1492 reshaped Jewish family life in the early modern period. In this webinar, Professor Rebecca Wartell will explore this transformation, mining discussions of marriage and marital status in legal and popular Jewish literature to recover the neglected experiences and voices of Jewish and conversa women —individuals and their descendants who had been forcibly baptized into the Catholic Church. Professor Wartell will devote particular attention to how missing husbands – lost at war or sea or with fates unknown – left a disproportionate number of widows in early modern Europe. Jewish and conversa women’s lives were often defined by their status as widows or agunot (“chained women”) whose social and economic mobility was, at times, marked with more autonomy than their married counterparts. 

  Professor Rebecca Wartell  Rebecca Wartell researches Sephardic Jews in the early modern period, with a particular interest in issues of refugees and migration after the Spanish Expulsion. She is interested in the economic and social dynamics between established Jewish communities, religious authority, and exiles. 

In her teaching, Professor Wartell specializes in Jewish/Christian and Jewish/Muslim historical interactions, with a particular interest in the Roman and Spanish Inquisitions of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. She has taught courses in Jewish culture and history to students of all ages and backgrounds, and enjoys helping students increase their critical thinking and analytic skills. 

Professor Wartell has a Master's degree in Theological Studies from Harvard University and a PhD in History from Monash University. She is thrilled to live Colorado, where she is a fourth-generation native.