Israeli library offers glimpse of old Jewish life in Europe
JERUSALEM – Israel's 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.
Yoel Finkelman, curator of the library's Judaica collection and manager of the project, said Tuesday that 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."