Gifts of Wisdom: The Historical Traditions and Values of the Ethical Will

By :  Stefanie B. Siegmund Women's League Chair in Jewish Gender and Women's Studies Posted On Oct 19, 2020 / 5780 | Living a Life of Meaning Monday Webinar

Part of the series, Living a Life of Meaning

Download sources

At pivotal moments that make us think about death—encounters with serious illness, the loss of loved ones, advancing age, or even bringing children into our lives—we turn to lawyers to write or revise our wills. Writing a will is an opportunity to consider our priorities as we plan to distribute our estates to the people, organizations, and causes that we care about. What if you also tried to write a letter that would be read by your descendants, perhaps even at your funeral, about your values? What would you say? How does Judaism inform these values?

In this session, we study testaments left by a medieval Jewish man and a late Renaissance Jewish woman to explore their values and their gifts, and to contemplate reclaiming the tradition of the ethical will. 

With Dr. Stefanie Siegmund,Women’s League Chair in Jewish Gender and Women’s Studies, JTS.


The disruption to our normal life, and for many, close encounters with mortality, provides an opportunity to evaluate what is truly important in our lives. Guided by JTS faculty and fellows we discuss the role of values, ethics, and Torah in the quest for a well-lived life.

View All Sessions in the Series


At JTS, we are committed to providing the Jewish community with outstanding classes in Judaic studies. We hope you will partner with us so that we can continue to do so. Did you know that you can sponsor a learning session to honor a loved one, celebrate an occasion, or commemorate a yahrzeit? To learn more visit the Community Learning sponsorship page or email