'פנקסים' - חיי היחיד ומוסדות הקהילה בראשית העת החדשה
Written Records: Individuals & Communal Institutions in the
|מדעי הרוח | היסטוריה של עם ישראל
Written Records – the Life of Individuals and Communal Institutions in the Early Modern Period
“In order to strengthen the regulation, it was commanded that it be written in the community records, as anything written in the community records would be scrupulously observed…not many days later the scribe wrote the entire story on paper…and had the records not been burned we could read the entire account in them…now that the records have been burned and Buchach destroyed, I have taken it upon myself to write these matters in a book” (S.Y. Agnon, Ir Umeloah [“A City and its Fullness”])
Community records were at the center of Jewish public life and its institutions in the early modern period. These records fulfilled a wide variety of functions – from institutional and economic organization of daily life, through enactments and clashes between individuals and communities, all the way to miraculous events, dreams, and local traditions inscribed as the active formation of collective memory. Alongside the official records, various groups, such as burial societies and synagogues, kept their own records, as did certain individuals. These records were used for the documentation and preparation of a wide variety of private and associational activities. For the historian and the researcher of culture and law they are an extraordinary treasure in their efforts to understand the period and its multifarious voices.
Through a joint reading of records we will receive a glimpse into a world of forgotten manuscripts. We will hear the distinctive voices of men and women; coffee shop owners and tax collectors; rich and poor; minstrels, abandoned wives, and charlatans; Sabbateans and maskilim; together with the official writings of institutions, ministers and kings, Jewish courts alongside German and Polish nobles. In these records we will read of political persecutions and impersonations, cultural gestures and acts of leadership, while analyzing power structures and establishments, minor changes and transformations, collapses and renewals.