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”.