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The Pinkassim Project

From the sixteenth century to the nineteenth, most European Jewish communities and regional councils kept their records in specially designated registers, called in Hebrew pinkassim. On the pages of these volumes can be found documentation detailing the administrative functioning of the Jewish bodies that created them, the commmunities’ relations with the non-Jewish world, and the ways in which Jewish society organized its social, economic, religious, cultural, and family life. 

Today these pinkassim are found in various collections across the globe.  The  National Library of Israel, together with the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People in Jerusalem, holds the largest collection of pinkassim in the world. Through international academic co-operation, the Pinkassim Project aims at locating, cataloguing, and digitizing all surviving record books, making them freely available.  This will permit a deeper understanding of the European Jewish past for scholars, for Jews in general, and for non-Jews who want to explore this history.

The goal of this site, until the development of a fuller and more elaborate one, is to provide free access to the records of Jewish self-government in Europe.  In its first phase, the Pinkassim Project deals just with the pinkassim created by the community and regional councils and has also limited itself to those created in the early modern period (c.1500-1800), widely regarded as the Golden Age of Jewish self-government.  Scans of the first digitized pinkassim as well as a catalog of surviving  pinkassim and a bibliography of relevant research are found below.


International academic committee:

Professor (emeritus) Israel Bartal of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem,

Professor Jörg Deventer of the Simon Dubnow Institute for Jewish History and Culture at Leipzig University

Professor Gershon Hundert of McGill University in Montreal, Canada,

Professor Adam Teller of Brown University in Providence RI, USA. 


In conjunction with:

The  National Library of Israel, Israel

Simon Dubnow Institute for Jewish History and Culture at Leipzig University, Germany


With the support of the Rothschild Foundation (Hanadiv) Europe