About the Pinkasim Collection

​From the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, most European Jewish communities and regional councils wrote their records in specially designated registers, referred to using the Hebrew term pinkas (plural, pinkasim). These handwritten volumes include detailed descriptions of the administrative functioning of the Jewish bodies that created them, documenting the ways in which Jewish society organized its social, economic, religious, cultural, and family life, as well as aspects of its relations with non-Jewish governments and bodies. Pinkasim, therefore, form an extraordinary repository of information about the Jewish past.​

Today these pinkasim are found in various collections across the globe. The National Library of Israel, together with its Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People in Jerusalem, hold​ the world’s largest collection of pinkasim. The Pinkasim Project aims to locate, catalogue, and digitize these surviving record books. Making pinkasim available to scholars and readers around the world will permit a deeper understanding of the European Jewish past. 

In its first phase, the Pinkasim Project is focusing on European Jewish communities between 1500-1800, considered the “golden age” of Jewish self-government. The digitized pinkasim document executive bodies and community self-government. Other pinkasim will be added as the project develops. 

The Pinkasim Project continues to sponsor workshops, summer schools, academic panels, and courses, all helping to train the next generation of scholars in the use of these unique but challenging documents. Toward that end, we have provided an annotated bibliography of pinkasim, an introduction to the use of pinkasim as historical sources, and digital copies of published pinkasim (where copyright allows). Pinkasim deserve pride of place as sources of early modern Jewish culture and history, and we hope and expect this site to further that goal.

The Project's Vision 

•  Locate, catalogue and digitize record books from Jewish communities between the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries.

  Open access to project relevant pinkasim, on the internet, on computers and on mobile devices.

  A quick and efficient search engine, enabling pinkasim searches according to their physical attributes, content and historical context. 

  A powerful viewer presenting the entire layout of the pinkas and single pages, enabling manipulation of high resolution images, and supplying links to the catalog record and to other related items or texts. 

  Enable users to share and consult with fellow users for research, education, and personal interest.

  ​Sponsor workshops, summer schools, academic panels and courses, in order to introduce the next academic generation to pinkasim as sources of early modern Jewish culture and history.

International Academic Committee:

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

Professor Jörg Deventer of the Leibniz-Institute for Jewish History and Culture ‒ Simon Dubnow, Leipzig, Germany

Professor Gershon Hundert of McGill University, Montreal, Canada

Professor Adam Teller of Brown University, Providence RI, USA

​The National Library of Israel:

Dr. Yoel Finkelman, Curator, The Haim and Hanna Salomon Judaica Collection

Dr. Stefan Litt, Curator, Humanities Collection

Ms. Michal Gruenwald, Project Director

With the support of the Rothschild Foundation Hanadiv Europe   ​​