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The Development Of Jewish Autonomy

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Chapter Summary

Three parallel historical processes contributed to the formation of Jewish autonomy in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Two were integral to the development of the Polish-Lithuanian state, and the third was internal to the Jewish community. Collecting the poll tax per capita proved ineffective, and when big Jewish communities tried to overtax smaller ones, they met with resistance and calls for fiscal independence. During the period between the World Wars, the Jewish-Polish historians Bałaban, Schiper, and Mahler held the view that the establishment of Jewish autonomy in Poland-Lithuania was connected with changing forms of Jewish poll tax collection. The assessment of the tax on individual taxpayers remained in the hands of the Jewish councils. The existence of the Jewish autonomous administration at a national level in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth provided an effective channel for interaction between the Jewish and Polish political establishments - interaction that stretched well beyond matters of taxation.

Keywords: Jewish autonomy; Jewish poll tax collection; Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth



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