The 18th World Congress of Jewish Studies

The History of Kest and its Significance

Kest or the pattern of residence of a newly married couple in the house of the bride`s family in the first years after marriage was a common pattern among Ashkenazi elite families from medieval times until recently. Documentation of the phenomenon clearly illustrates the values and concerns of Jewish families. The concern for progeny and for familial influence is clear. What is perhaps less obvious is that it shows the complex role of women in Ashkenazi Jewish society and the assumption that it can be simply defined as patriarchal. The pattern no longer exists but the term remains in use and is applied to financial support for newlywed couples who live in separate households.