Israel’s National Library launches new exhibition of ancient ledgers
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Israel’s National Library launches new exhibition of ancient ledgers

Special handwritten 'pinkas', which were used by Jewish communities from the 16th to the 19th century, go on display

"Pinkas from Halberstadt, Germany" – This page, written in a formal administrative form of Yiddish summarizes a meeting of the Kahal (the community leaders). It was written on the First of the Month of Elul, 1796. (Images courtesy of the National Library of Israel, Jerusalem:)
"Pinkas from Halberstadt, Germany" – This page, written in a formal administrative form of Yiddish summarizes a meeting of the Kahal (the community leaders). It was written on the First of the Month of Elul, 1796. (Images courtesy of the National Library of Israel, Jerusalem:)

The National Library of Israel this week launched a new exhibition showcasing the ancient ledgers used by medieval European Jewish communities.

The exhibition is titled ‘The Pinkisim Collection’ because the special handwritten ledgers were known as ‘pinkas’. They were used by Jewish communities from the 16th to the 19th century to document a council’s records and rules.

The pinkasim show such things as which Jewish cafes could open on Shabbat, how alimony was paid in Jewish divorces, what salaries were paid to mohelim and kosher slaughterers, when Jews began to live in Christian neighbourhoods, even what card games Jews were allowed to play.

Curator Yoel Finkelman said the ledgers “provide an unparalleled lens through which we can better understand modern Jewish culture and history, as well as authentic real-time documentation of internal Jewish politics over the centuries”.

“Pinkas from Zulz, Poland” – This page discusses a decision regarding a request related to funding the costs of a wedding. It is written in Hebrew and English. (Images courtesy of the National Library of Israel, Jerusalem:)
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