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Governing a jewish community

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Chapter Summary

Patterns of leadership within Jewish communities go back many centuries and have their roots in ancient Jewish society. At the top of the hierarchy of a Jewish community are the governors, known generally as parnassim and gabbaim. In many Jewish communities more than one individual may function as parnas. Where parnassim share the principal position according to a monthly rota they are known as the parnas ha-hodesh. These governors are elected by the members, the ba?ale battim: the tax-paying heads of families who were eligible to vote. Naturally more officials served in large communities, including the relatively numerous treasurers for example, secretaries and representatives of different community institutions. Leadership of Jewish communities in the Dutch provinces was not significantly different in character from the familiar forms of leadership of the medieval period and of well-documented communities in Germany, Poland or elsewhere in the early modern period.

Keywords: community leadership; Dutch provinces; early modern period families; Jewish community; parnassim



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