National Library puts Jewish communal ledgers from Europe online

The National Library has digitized a rare collection of communal ledgers from long-lost Jewish communities of Europe, offering the public a chance to study an era seen as a golden age of Jewish self-governance before the Holocaust.

The documents, known as pinkasim, were used by European Jewish communities hundreds of years ago to keep track of financial transactions, political happenings, relations with non-Jewish government bodies, and even funny moments.

A pinkas, or Jewish communal ledger, from Halberstadt, Germany, digitized by Israel’s National Library. The page dates from 1796. (Courtesy: National Library)

Yoel Finkelman, curator of the library’s Judaica collection and manager of the project, says any Jewish community with a governing body had a pinkas.

He says that makes the ledgers “some of the most significant documents for understanding early modern Jewish European history.”

He said that currently they also are some of the “least accessible.”

— AP

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