Character and Structures
Functions and Duties
THE MUSLIM CALIPHATE IN THE EAST
THE MUSLIM COUNTRIES IN THE WEST (EGYPT AND MAGHREB)
LATER DEVELOPMENTS IN NORTH AFRICA
THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE
SPAIN AND RESETTLEMENT COUNTRIES
Developments in North Africa from the 19th Century
COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION SINCE WORLD WAR II
Community Structure in a Voluntaristic Environment
Community and Polity
COMMUNITY, the designation of Jewish social units, used for the Hebrew terms edah, kehillah, and kahal. Ideally the community denoted the "Holy Community" (Kehillah Kedoshah), the nucleus of Jewish local cohesion and leadership in towns and smaller settlements. Particularly after the loss of independence, as the Jews became predominantly town dwellers, the community became more developed and central to Jewish society and history. From the Middle Ages on the community was a "Jewish city," parallel to and within the Christian and Muslim ones.
This entry is arranged according to the following outline:
While the central and centralistic institutions of *kingship, *patriarchs, *prophets, *Temple, *tribe, and academies predominated – each in its time and its own way – there is only occasional mention of local leadership among the Jews. However, in *Shechem it was apparently the Ba'alei Shekhem who ruled the town, determining its enemies and friends (Judg. 9, passim). King *Ahab had to turn to "the elders and nobles, which are of his town, who sit with Naboth" (I Kings 21:8) and they passed judgment on Naboth (ibid. 11–13). It would seem that this local leadership, which combined preeminence in the town with noble family descent, was a central element in the life of the exiles in *Babylon. For more on community structure in the Bible see *Congregation (Assembly). The Book of *Judith tells of local self-government in the town of Bethulia in the days of Persian influence. The town was led by three men (ibid. 26) who had judicial power and the right to lead the defense of the city.
Later, under the Ptolemaic and Seleucid rule and influence, Hellenistic institutions began to shape local social life. In the Second Temple period the *Sanhedrin had the function of municipal council of the holy city, Jerusalem, as well as its more central functions in national life. From its foundation *Tiberias was a city with a decisive Jewish majority, structured and organized on the model of the Greek polis, with a city council and popular assemblies which sometimes met in the synagogue. At the head of the executive branch stood the archon and supervision of economic life was in the hands of the agoranomos. In the Hellenistic-Roman Diaspora the element of *autonomy granted by the non-Jewish sovereigns became a basic constitutive element in the life of the Jewish community, remaining central to it throughout centuries of Jewish history. In *Alexandria, Egypt, there existed a large Jewish community, which did not however embrace all the Jews living within the city; the synagogue became a center of communal leadership and at the same time a focal point for the emergence of a separate synagogue-community, existing alongside similar synagogue-communities within the same city.
By Ptolemaic times the Jews in Alexandria were already organized as a politeuma (πολίτευμα), one of a number of such administrative (non-Jewish) units in the city. At the head of the Alexandria community at first were the elders. In the beginning of Roman rule, the leadership of the Alexandria community was in the hands of an ethnarch; later, in the days of Augustus, the main leadership passed to the council of elders (gerousia), which had scores of members. The Berenice (*Benghazi) community in Cyrenaica had nine archons at the head of its politeuma. The Rome community seems to have been divided up, and organized in and around the synagogues. In Rome, as in other communities of the empire, there were titles like pater synagogae, archisynagogus, even mater or pateressa synagogae, and to a great degree such titles had become formal, hereditary, and empty. An imperial order to the *Cologne community of 321 is addressed "to the priests [hierei], to the heads of the synagogues [archisynagogi], to the fathers of synagogues [patres synagogarum]," thus showing that even in a distant community a wide variety of titles, some of a priestly nature, existed side by side.
Synagogue inscriptions and tombstones attest the importance attached to synagogue-community leadership. Up to the fifth century the patriarchs supervised and instructed this network of communities in the Roman Empire through sages (apostoloi). The epistles of *Paul are in a sense evidence
Some methods of communal organization – based on autonomy, the synagogue as the local center, and the synagogue as a separate communal unit within the locality – and some of the titles (in particular the Hebrew ones like Tuvei ha-Ir) were carried over into medieval and modern times.
[Haim Hillel Ben-Sasson]
Organized local communities functioning in Babylonia were highly centralized under the control of the geonim and exilarchs from approximately the eighth to the eleventh centuries. However, there are many indications that local autonomy was stronger and more active than these centralist institutions. The breakup in centralized authority and the growth of new patterns formed under conditions created by the emerging cities and states, in Christian Europe in particular, brought the local community more and more into the foreground. External and internal factors provided the dynamic force leading to self-perpetuation; among the former were collective responsibility for taxes (royal or seignorial) and ecclesiastical privileges, and the corporate organization of society in general. The inner cohesive forces were equally potent, if not more so. First there were the ancient traditions of Jewish group life as expressed in a variety of institutions; most powerful of these was the halakhah, the firm rule of religious law. Of paramount importance was the sovereign right of each kehillah to adopt its own fundamental communal law as formulated in *takkanot. The kehillah retained its links with the Jews in the Diaspora as a whole through its adherence to tradition and law and shared messianic hope. Probably economic concerns of Jewish artisans and merchants constituted powerful common interests, yet the predominant binding forces were religious and cultural.
Up to the expulsion from Spain (1492) the pattern of only one community board, or kahal, prevailed. It was only in the period of resettlement after the expulsion from Spain and in the modern period that the pattern of a community centered on its own particular synagogue reemerged strongly in many areas and splintered the original community. From the beginning of the 12th century, Western European civic tendencies began to penetrate the life and thought of the adjacent Jewish communities, which attempted to close their doors to newcomers (see *ḥerem ha-yishuv). Membership in a community was acquired by birth or granted by formal admission. In extreme cases failure to submit to communal discipline could lead to expulsion. These tendencies clashed with the feeling of Jewish solidarity and belief that charity should extend beyond the city walls. As in the gentile city, in the Jewish community too there was a patrician tendency to limit election rights and – through various election clauses – to make the ruling circle a closed and self-perpetuating one. Membership of this ruling class depended on riches, learning, and patrician descent, in most cases a combination of all three. This oligarchic system was much more pronounced in the communities of Christian Spain until the expulsion, than in those of northern France or Germany. From time to time pronounced popular dissatisfaction led to reforms in election and tax-assessment methods and community institutions and structures. Different types of voting procedure were employed at meetings and there were rarely secret and fair elections. Some officers, such as judges and charity wardens, were chosen by direct ballot, but the indirect ballot, whereby some half dozen unrelated electors (borerim) were drawn by lot, was most popular. They constituted the electoral college which proceeded to select the major officers.
In a very small community a single officer managed affairs. The larger communities had many more elders, who went by a large variety of titles in the vernacular or in Hebrew, such as chiefs (rashim), aldermen (*parnasim), best men (tovim), trustees (ne'emanim), supervisors (*gabba'im), and many others. Special officers acted as tax assessors (shamma'im), tax collectors (gabba'ei ha-mas), morality boards (*berurei averah), diplomatic spokesmen (*shtadlanim), supervisors of the synagogue, of communal schools, charities, weights and measures, and a host of others. The chief officers were sometimes "elder of the month" (parnas ha-ḥodesh) in rotation. In Germany, Moravia, and western Hungary this parnas ha-ḥodesh was subject to the control of an executive committee; in Poland and Lithuania he later had full authority to act on his own. The community board was called kahal. The shtadlan, who represented an individual community, a region, or an entire country, was found in the larger cities. He was responsible for interceding with the authorities in defense of Jewish rights and in the alleviation of abuses. He had to know the language of the country and feel at ease with king, bishop, and courtier. As the representative of a subject people in an age when ideas of freedom and equality were hardly understood, he did not fight for Jewish rights: he pleaded for them, or gained his point through bribery. He was either a wealthy Jew who acted for his people out of a sense of civic duty, or he was an official who was paid handsomely for his exacting labors.
The designation of *rabbi (rav) of the community appears fairly early in Western Europe. By the 12th century it was frequently used, although not then very clearly defined. Many rabbis subsisted on irregular incomes. For a long time learned laymen administered justice in some countries; judges had to be elected. After a long period of uncertainty, the authority of the rabbi gradually became established. Large communities had rabbis who specialized as judges in civil (*dayyan) or ritual (moreh hora'ah) matters, heads of academies, or preachers
The community offered religious, educational, judicial, financial, and social welfare services to its members. It thus made possible a self-determined life for segregated Jewry. The cemetery and the synagogue were the primary institutions in each community. A single dead Jew required hallowed ground and for that reason graveyards were often the first property to be acquired. Ten adult Jews could meet in any private dwelling for public worship, but they soon needed a permanent prayer house. No membership fees were paid; the synagogue largely depended on income from the sale of mitzvot, the main one being the honor of being called to the reading from the Torah. Every sizable community had several houses of prayer, whether communal, associational, or private, which served as pivots and centers of communal life (see *Synagogue and cf. *Bitul ha-Tamid); these maintained and supervised the abattoir for ritual slaughter, a ritual bath (*mikveh), the supply of kosher foods, and the sale of citrons (etrogim).
Though teaching children and adult study were the responsibility of the individual Jew, supervision over schools and the provision of education for the poor were assumed by the community or an association. Special imposts were levied for educational purposes. The number of students per teacher, the quality of instruction, and competition among teachers were regulated. Schoolhouses were built, mainly for poor children and for higher learning. Synagogues and schools were supplied with libraries of sacred books. The adult study groups and the general pervasive character of educational endeavors maintained the Jews as the People of the Book.
Local communities were accorded extensive jurisdiction and discretion. The principle of *ḥerem bet din, the right of each community to final jurisdiction and its security against appeals to outside authorities, was established in northern France from the 12th century. However, appeals to outstanding rabbinic luminaries outside the community were not entirely ruled out. At first knowledgeable elders ruled in disputes; soon ritual, civil, and criminal law became the province of properly trained rabbinic judges, and court proceedings were speedy and efficient. Excommunication – religious, social, and economic ostracism – was widely applied. Capital punishment was inflicted on *informers in Spain and in Poland. In some countries execution was left to state authorities. Other penalties included expulsion, the pillory, flogging, imprisonment, and fines. The community was the fiscal agent of the ruler and the bearer of collective responsibility for the collection of taxes from the Jews. It had to treat with the ruler on the type and amount of taxes, distribute the burden among its members according to its own principles, and to collect the sum. Thus it imposed direct and indirect taxes, import and export duties, tolls, and taxes in lieu of military service or forced labor. The prevailing method of tax collection was assessment by elected officials. Tax exemptions were sometimes granted by the state to influential individuals and some scholars and community officials also enjoyed tax immunity. The fiscal system worked tolerably well in the Middle Ages when communal controls were effective, but broke down with emancipation of the individual in the modern period.
The Jewish community regulated the socioeconomic life of its members. The principle of *ḥazakah had wide applications in such areas as rent control, the acquired right of an artisan or a merchant to retain his customer (*ma'arūfiyya), or the right of settlement. Lavish dress and sumptuous festivities were strictly regulated, a rule more often observed only in the breach. Polygamy was combated by communal action until it was eradicated in Christian lands and sexual morality was stringently regulated: there were ordinances against mixed dancing, gambling, and improper family life. Communal and individual charity provided for the impecunious; food, money, clothing, and shelter were dispensed. Itinerant beggars were kept on the move from one community to another. The sick were comforted by visitation, care, and medicines. Some towns maintained a *hekdesh, a hospital for the ailing poor which only too often, as usual at the time, was unsanitary. Orphans and widows were provided for. "Redemption of *captives," the ransoming of victims of imprisonment, captives of war or of pirates, was ranked first among charities. Special chests for relief in Ereẓ Israel (*ḥalukkah) were maintained.
By unanimous Jewish testimony the first caliphs were sympathetic toward the representatives of the supreme institutions of the Babylonian Jewish community. Following the stabilization of Arab rule in the mid-eighth century, which did not interfere with the internal affairs of non-Muslims, a state of peaceful coexistence developed between the Muslim authorities and the leaders of the autonomous institutions of the non-Muslims, so that the Jews were able to reconstitute a system of self-government. The head of the "secular" autonomous administration was the *exilarch, an office originating in Parthian times and continuing under the Sassanids. The exilarch was of Davidic stock, and the office was hereditary. After a period of instability, *Bustanai b. Ḥaninai was recognized as exilarch during the rule of Omar I (634–44) and transmitted the office to his sons. The hereditary and elected representatives of Babylonian Jewry were charged with the administration of all taxes levied on Jews, with the representation of Jewry before the Muslim rulers, with autonomous judicial functions, the enactment of
More is known about the forms of organization of Egyptian and North African communities, which were different from those in the East. For political reasons the Fatimid caliphs in Egypt did not want the Jewish communities in their domains, which extended as far as present-day Morocco, to be subject to Jewish authorities outside their realm. Like the Umayyad rulers of Spain and part of Morocco, they therefore encouraged the severance of local Jewry from dependence on the Babylonian center. The several extant versions of letters of appointment of negidim in Egypt show that the *nagid's functions were partly similar to those of the exilarch in Babylonia in later times: he represented all the Jews and was their religious guide and judge; he drew up deeds of marriage and divorce and saw to it that prayers were said while facing Jerusalem, in contrast to Samaritan custom; and he was responsible for the implementation of the special measures applying to the *dhimmis (non-Muslims given protected status). Among the best-known negidim were the descendants of Maimonides – five generations in all – who were the government appointed secular leaders of Jewry in Egypt and its dependencies, and, at the same time, spiritual leaders consulted on all matters of religion and law. The Egyptian negidim were also in charge of the fairly large Karaite and Samaritan communities. Palestinian and Syrian Jewry was headed by a local nagid, subordinate to the nagid in Cairo, whose deputy he was and without whose permission he could not be appointed. Apart from the nagid, two other functionaries represented the community: the minister (ḥazzan) and the prayer leader (sheli'aḥẓibbur). The office of nagid existed in Egypt until the Turkish conquest in 1517. A special situation prevailed in Egypt under Ottoman rule, when the nagid was appointed and sent to Cairo by the government authorities in Constantinople. In the middle of the 16th century, after 30 years of Ottoman rule, the rabbi of the Egyptian community excommunicated the nagid for having slighted him; the nagid complained to the Muslim governor, which shows that he was not empowered to anathematize him, but the dispute ended with the expulsion of the nagid from Egypt. Sambari, the 17th-century Egyptian chronicler, concludes: "From that day onward, he [the Muslim ruler] made it a law in Israel that no Jew who came from Konstantina [Constantinople] should be called nagid, but that he should be called chelebi; and this has been the law for Israel to this day" (Sambari, in Neubauer, Chronicles, vol. 1, pp. 116–7). Later sources indicate that the titles chelebi, bazirgyan, and muʿallim, still in use in early 19th-century Constantinople, were given to a prominent Jew who performed the function of official intercessor by virtue of his position in the financial and economic administration of the Egyptian rulers. Jewish dragomans in seaport towns similarly had influence with the authorities and used it for the benefit of their coreligionists.
From the 16th century onward, regulations, chronicles of Fez and responsa written by the rabbinical authorities of Morocco mention
The autocratic status of the dey of Algeria affected the position of the *muqaddim, the Jewish representative at his court. In Spain, before the expulsion, this title was borne by a member of the community's leadership, and it seems that in Algeria, too, there were at first several muqaddimūn who looked after the affairs of the community; they are mentioned in a sharīʿa document of the early 18th century in connection with the purchase of land for a cemetery. In 1735 a change was introduced in the leadership of the community, and from then onward increasing reference is made to the muqaddim as the community's sole representative before the dey. Henceforth, the position became a monopoly of two or three families: *Bouchara, *Busnach and *Bacri (who were related), and the famous *Duran family. Their activities at the dey's court were internationally noted, especially from the early 19th century onward. After the conquest of Algeria by the French in 1830, one of the military administration's principal measures with respect to the Jews was the curtailment of the powers of their communal courts. This was done systematically by several decrees, issued between 1830 and 1842, which gradually restricted their jurisdiction in matrimonial matters to the holding of merely symbolic ceremonies and the offering of advice and written opinions; most matters were transferred to the jurisdiction of the French civil courts. The French policy makers were assisted in their efforts by the influence, encouragement, and cooperation of the leaders of Jewish religious institutions in France and French-Jewish citizens who settled in Algeria. Throughout the French era, until they regained full independence in 1962, Algerian Muslims jealously guarded their position as an autonomous community, not subject to French law in matters of personal status. The fate of the muqaddim, described by Christian writers as "king of the Jews," was similar to that of the rabbinical courts. On Nov. 16, 1830, Jacob Bacri was appointed muqqadim and empowered to supervise all Jews in town, execute judgments, and collect taxes. In the following year he was given three advisers, and after him Aaron Mu'atti was appointed head of the Jews. However, after five years the title of the muqaddim was changed to deputy mayor for Jewish affairs; he became a French official, drawing a salary from the government.
The head of Tunisian Jewry, known as the qaʾid, was in a very strong position, since as tax collector and toll gatherer – and, in the capital Tunis, treasurer as well – he played an important part in the bey's administration. H.J.D. Azulai, in his Maʿagal Tov (1921–34), gives some idea of the wealth, prestige, and autocratic ways of the qāʾid Joshua Tanūjī. Some of the other qāʾids he mentions belong to the class which ruled supreme in both religious and wordly affairs of the community. The dependence of the office of the qāʾid on the bey sometimes resulted in its becoming hereditary. Mutually independent sources attest that the powers of the qāʾid as head of the community were very broad and that all matters of religious leadership, in addition to the management of communal property, were decided by him. These powers were not appreciably curtailed until the second half of the 19th century. From personal observation D. Cazès (Essai sur l'histoire des Israélites de Tunisie, 1888) states that the qāʾid represented the government authorities vis-à-vis the Jews, and that he proposed to the authorities, or himself appointed, the dayyanim, the seven notables, the men in charge of certain departments, the notaries, and the scribes. His signature appears first on official documents, even before that of the chief rabbi. Nothing was done in the community without his consent because he had a veto on all decisions of the dayyanim, the seven notables, and the leaders of the community. Every document, whether public or private, had to bear his signature or the notification that it had been drawn up with consent. The qāʾid was also in charge of the administration of justice among the Jews, on whom he might impose fines, whipping, and imprisonment. The city authorities were obliged to lend him their assistance, and the chief of police had to carry out his judgments. A decree of 1876 concerning the organization of the Tunis Relief and Charity Fund (the official designation of the body in Tunisia which carried out the functions of the community in the spheres of religious services and social welfare) prescribed that it should be headed by the qāʾid and that the chief rabbis should be subordinate to him. After long negotiations between subjects of the bey and persons under consular protection – on the distribution of the income of the abattoir among the needy – it was agreed that the committee dealing with the distribution should be headed by the qāʾid. A decree of the bey confirmed the agreement, of which one copy was delivered to the qāʾid and another to the French consul. Decrees issued by the bey up to 1898 concerning various communal matters still reflect the status and powers of the qāʾid as they evolved during the course of many generations. Only after the death of R. Elie Borgel in 1898 did a fundamental change occur in the powers of the head of the community. A decree of 1899 concerning the organization of the Tunis Relief and Charity
It may be assumed that, as in all the other eastern countries, the community of Tripoli (North Africa) was headed by a sheikh (an elder or chief), whose functions resembled those of the qāʾid in Tunisia. Nevertheless, it is not known if the sheikh performed the same functions – financial agent and treasurer – at the court of the pasha in Tripoli as the qāʾid in Tunisia or the muqaddim in Algeria. The only source of information is that supplied by a late chronicler on the basis of ancient material. According to him, the names of the leaders of the Jews, "both the new ones and the old ones," were not mentioned with the names of the dayyanim in the prayer for the dead on the eve of the Day of Atonement because they were not scholars. "Only a rich man, who was not a scholar, was elected to be the intermediary between the Jews and the government, and on his order the bet din would inflict the punishment of whipping on evildoers. He would, moreover, send to prison those who refused to accept his judgment or failed to pay their share of the poll tax." In another instance he notes: "The sheikh collects the money of the poll tax from the Jews for transmission to the government treasury. He receives no remuneration for this labor except that he is exempt from poll tax. Nevertheless, people go to enormous expense in order to obtain that office because they are ambitious, for the sheikh imposes and releases from imprisonment; he also has a fixed place among the governors in the council chamber where he is consulted like the other notables, and in most cases his advice is taken." The creation of the post of ḥakham bashi in the second half of the 19th century no doubt impaired the powers of the sheikh and lowered the latter's prestige with the authorities. From then onward the ḥakham bashi was recognized as the intermediary between local Jewry and the provincial governor and his assistants.
The duties of the recognized leaders of the community in the Maghreb, especially those of the qāʾid and muqaddim, were not easy. There is reliable evidence that these leaders included men of high moral caliber, anxious to be of service to their brethren. As regards those accused of abusing their position, it should be remembered that all communal leaders in these countries – especially in Algeria – were agents of the local rulers, in whose name and for whose benefit they engaged in a variety of dealings, sometimes dubious. All were the first target of the anger of the ruler or of incited mobs who held them responsible for every injustice in connection with taxes and toll duties, farming of government monopolies (iltizam), and various transactions with foreign states at the expense of the populations; particularly shocking was the fate of the muqaddimūn of the Busnach-Bacri family in the early 19th century (see *Bacri; *Busnach). Moreover, their position in relation to their coreligionists was not an easy one. They were responsible for the collection of the poll tax, whether it was imposed on each individual separately or whether an aggregate amount was fixed for the community, leaving it to the latter's representatives to apportion it among its members. They also had to ensure the payment of every fine or special charge the ruler saw fit to collect from the Jews. To protect themselves against serious personal loss, they made the community promise in writing to bear those disbursements. It was, of course, an unpleasant duty to have to impose internal taxes to finance the requirements of the community, although the necessary means of enforcement were available. The commonest tax of this kind was the gabella, an excise duty on meat, wine, etc. In Tripolitania this name was given to an internal tax (at the rate of 2–3 per mil) on imported goods. This latter impost, known also as khābā, served to maintain children of destitute parents at religious schools.
The wide jurisdiction of the secular authority was an outstanding feature of the Maghreb. The secular functionary appointed the dayyanim, or if they were elected by the people confirmed their election (incidentally, the people's right to elect dayyanim was limited, since according to hallowed tradition religious offices were hereditary and were limited to a few families). The nagid in Morocco and the holders of similar positions in the other Maghreb countries were responsible for conducting the community's relationships with the outside world.
Very little is known about the religious and secular administration of the *Mustaʿrab Jewish population in the East. Ottoman rule was extended over the Near East and Europe in the 15th and the 16th centuries. According to Sambari, Sultan Muhammad the Conqueror (1451–81) assigned three seats on his imperial divan (council) to official religious functionaries: the mufti, the patriarch, and the rabbi. The aged rabbi Moses *Capsali was appointed head of the Jews for certain purposes. Sambari continues: "And Sultan Muhammad imposed taxes on the whole country in the manner of kings: kharāj, ʿawarīd, and rab aqchesi. And all the Jewish communities were assessed for tax by the said rabbi, and it was collected by him and delivered to the treasury. And the sultan loved all the Jews" (Neubauer, Chronicles, vol. 1, 138). The rab aqchesi tax ("the rabbi's asper"), i.e., the tax of one "white" (lavan, silver coin) for the right to have a rabbi, contains an indirect recognition of the autonomous nature of Jewish organization. Its imposition is confirmed by Turkish archival sources.
Conforte, a contemporary of Sambari, also states that Moses Capsali was appointed rabbi and chief of the dayyanim of Constantinople: "He was rabbi of the *Romaniots, who were resident in the city in the time of the Greeks, and exercised jurisdiction over all Jews of the city by the sultan's command. And the ḥakhamim of the city in his generation were all submissive to him because of fear of the authorities and they had no power to speak to him about any matter or any decision he gave that did not commend itself to them" (Kore ha-Dorot, ed. Cassel, 28b). The common assertion in historical works and encyclopedias, that Capsali was appointed ḥakham bashi, resulted from a combination of these two reports. The title ḥakham bashi is not mentioned in any form in the Hebrew
After the capture of Constantinople (1453), Muhammad the Conqueror granted recognition to the *millet (the religious communal organizations of non-Muslims in his state) and conferred broad powers on its religious leaders. This does not contradict the assumption that a Jewish communal organization was already in existence for some time in the areas occupied by the Turks in the 14th and early 15th century. Capsali's wide and exclusive powers as chief of the dayyanim met with opposition from the Ashkenazi and Italian rabbis in Constaninople, who requested the intervention of a noted rabbi in Italy in the matter of a judgment which they believed erroneous. (This took place considerably earlier than the expulsion from Spain.) According to the sources and his own testimony, Capsali's successor, Elijah Mizraḥi (d. 1526), had jurisdiction "over the whole city of Kostantina" for more than 40 years.
The settlement in Greater Constantinople of ḥakhamim expelled from Spain – who were unwilling to accept Mizraḥi'sauthority – led to tension between Romaniots and Sephardim, who also did not recognize the manner of authorizing rabbis which was practiced in Constantinople. Since the Spanish ḥakhamim refused to recognize the leading Romaniot rabbi's claim to be the chief dayyan of Constantinople, the position lapsed after Mizraḥi's death.
The Jewish settlements in the cities and towns of the Muslim Middle East were far from being united communities. In accordance with old traditions, every new wave of settlers continued its separate life in its own kahal. In North Africa the newcomers from Majorca and Catalonia (1391), Spain and Portugal (1492–97), and Leghorn (17th–18th centuries) had their own synagogues and charitable institutions (see *Gorni, Tuansa, *Maghrebi). In the East the situation was even more complicated. Besides the Mustaʿrabs, Maghrebis, Romaniots, Italians, and Ashkenazim, there were numerous separate congregations in the large cities of the Ottoman Empire, e.g., in Safed (1555–56) 12 congregations and in Istanbul (16th century) almost 40. In Salonika the situation was yet more complex: some congregations formed by groups who came from the same city or country were divided into sections and factions – majority and minority – which quarreled, seceded, built new congregations, and so on. Every congregation, small or large, had its own rabbi, synagogue, charity funds, and burial society; each had an independent status, was a "town" in and of itself and no rabbi or lay leader was permitted to interfere with the prerogatives of another. Although unity was achieved when a common danger faced the whole community, or funds had to be raised to redeem captives, maintain the Jews in Ereẓ Israel, etc., the rivalries between the congregations weakened the community. The situation lasted for centuries, continuing after the introduction of reforms in the organization of the millet in the 19th century, and surviving into the mid-20th century. After a prolonged delay caused by friction within the community, the draft of the "organizational regulations of the rabbinate" (ḥakham-khāne nīzām nāmesi) was submitted (1864) to the Ottoman authorities in Constantinople. The confirmation took place in May 1865. The regulations fall into five sections: (1) the status of the ḥakham bashi as the head of Jewry in the empire; his qualifications and election (clauses 1–4); (2) his powers and his replacement in the event of resignation or removal from office (clauses 5–15); (3) The general committee (majlis ʿumūmi), its election, and powers. It consisted of 80 members, presided over by the permanent deputy of the ḥakham bashi. Sixty secular members were elected by the inhabitants of Constantinople according to city districts, and they, in turn, elected 20 rabbinical members. These 80 members elected the seven rabbis who formed the spiritual committee (majlis rūḥānī) and the nine members of the secular committee (majlis jismānī). The elections required the approval of the Sublime Porte. At the time of the election of the ḥakham bashi for the empire, the general committee was temporarily reinforced by 40 members summoned from eight districts, where each officiated as provincial ḥakham bashi (from Adrianople, Brusa, Izmir (Smyrna), Salonika, Baghdad, Cairo, Alexandria, and Jerusalem; clauses 16–19). It should be noted that clause 16 failed to prescribe the committee's term of office; only in 1910 was it fixed at ten years. (4) The powers of the spiritual committee: the seven rabbis were to concern themselves with religious and other matters referred to them by the ḥakham bashi; the committee was not to prevent the publication of books or the spread of science and art unless it was prejudicial to the government, the community, or religion; it must supervise the activities of the city-district rabbis (mara de-atra) who acted under its instructions; it was headed by a president, who was also the head of the rabbinical court; he had two deputies (clauses 20–38). (5) The powers of the secular committee as regards the management of communal affairs and the carrying into effect of government orders: it apportioned the communal impost and ensured the integrity of the property of orphans and endowments (clauses 39–48). The regulations remained in force for the duration of
[Haïm Z'ew Hirschberg]
At the same time the communities of the north – France, Germany, England, and northern Italy, which had been under Christian rule and out of touch with Muslim-ruled Babylonia – became the focus of experiment in community living. Lacking the solid basis of long experience, they had to build from the foundation up. Great debates ensued among the handful of renowned scholars who valiantly strove to find precedents in talmudic law for solving communal problems. As they found little to go by in the Talmud, considerable activity ensued. Most influential were the *synods of scholars and leading laymen convoked mainly in Cologne on days when the fairs were held. The influential scholars were *Gershom b. Judah, *Meshullam b. Kalonymus, Joseph b. Samuel *Bonfils (Tov-Elem), and *Rashi and his followers. It was understood that the final decision on their takkanot would rest with the local community. Justice, too, was localized by the ḥerem bet din. Finally, the principle was accepted that the elders were empowered to enforce communal decisions. The legality of a majority forcing its will upon a minority elicited much debate. Jacob b. Meir *Tam disagreed with it (c. 1150). The right to vote was granted only to meliores (mehugganim, "respected persons").
More specifically, the scholars in France and Germany tended to vest considerable powers in the local community and to define the rights of the individual. In religious matters the authority of the community remained undisputed. To prevent breaches of Jewish law its authority extended beyond its borders to the neighboring communities. An individual had the right of appealing to a higher court in private cases, or of suing his own community. In general, however, the community remained independent of outside interference. Each community was conceived as the Jewish people in miniature, having sovereign rights, no longer dependent on Palestinian ordination or exilarchic-geonic appointment. *Meir b. Baruch of Rothenburg, the 13th-century talmudic scholar in Germany, further elaborated the principles of community government in an intricate array of judgments. A majority could enact regulations on religious or public matters, in pursuit of their primary aim of strengthening the authority of the community over the individual.
The autonomous Jewish community in Europe developed during the period of the growth of towns. However, when burghers succeeded in obtaining for themselves supremacy as members of a cummunitas, of a coniuratio of autonomous rule, they swore an annual oath of allegiance within the community. The Jews, however, did not follow this practice since each of them was assumed to be bound by the covenant at Sinai to follow God's law and community regulations.
While the Central European communities were rather small in the 13th to 15th centuries and needed only the guidance of one scholar or of a few leaders, in the following three centuries they expanded considerably, thereby requiring a more complex structure of public institutions. Social stratification within the community based on wealth and learning also became more differentiated.
Until the persecutions of 1391 the struggle between the higher and lower social echelons was pronounced; frequent changes of leadership resulted, but in spite of this one family might rule in one locality for a century or more. Strife developed over methods of allocating taxes, the elite preferring the officers of the kahal to act as assessors, and the masses opting for each taxpayer's declaring his income. Sporadically contending factions had to resort to the king or governmental authorities to resolve their conflict. In general, the Spanish kahal was engaged in the broad function of regulating the social, economic, intellectual, and religious life of local communities.
Until the expulsion from Spain there was only one kahal in a community, but a new phenomenon developed in the countries of resettlement. In Holland, France, and England the Spanish refugees formed a separate congregation of Sephardi Jews if there was already an Ashkenazi community in existence, and centered their communal affairs on it.
The communities of Poland-Lithuania followed a way of life and experienced problems which were a kind of amalgam of Ashkenazi and Sephardi patterns (see *Councils of the Lands). Medieval forms of Jewish community organization persisted far into modern times in those countries where emancipation was delayed. In Russia the autonomous institutions of the kahal remained vigorous despite a tyrannical absolutist government which sought to harness it in the service of its oppressive designs. In addition to the usual burdens of collecting taxes, the kahal was charged with providing recruits for military service. Internally the age-old traditions of self-government retained their vitality into the 20th century. Even after the kahal was officially abolished by the government, the associations carried on the time-honored services. While it lasted, the kahal followed the procedures inherited from earlier ages, with the system of indirect elections from among the taxpayers continuing the oligarchical rule of the medieval community. The control of religious behavior and of the economic and social life of the individual by the kahal was powerful: the judiciary was firmly in Jewish hands and resort to non-Jewish courts was rare indeed. Many of these traditions survived up to the Revolution of 1917.
By the middle of the 18th century signs of decline and disintegration of the autonomous Jewish community became evident. The central agencies gradually dissolved. In Germany the Jewish communities were increasingly controlled by the
These factors must be viewed in the light of the emergence of the united modern state in central and southern Europe on the one hand, and the economic and political decline of Poland (which ceased to exist as an independent state in 1795) and the Ottoman Empire on the other. The French Revolution dissolved the estates and the corporations; in their stead the state dealt directly with the individual citizen in matters of taxes and other civic responsibilities. Count *Clermont-Tonnerre, a liberal deputy and friend of the Jews, stated in 1789 in the French National Assembly: "To the Jews as a nation we owe nothing; to the Jews as human beings we give everything." All this implied the dissolution of all communal, corporate, self-governing institutions, to be replaced by an emancipated, equal citizenry. Individualism was further stimulated by early capitalism. Competition in new methods of production and distribution, private initiative, and the end of the guild system and of economic regimentation dissolved the social control of self-governing groups. The individual Jew was catapulted into gentile society, where his own institutions were of little avail. Enlightened absolutism in German-speaking areas further dissolved the corporative structures. In some countries, rabbis and religious functionaries became state officials. The ghetto community, as one of the autonomous corporate bodies, fell under the heavy blows of state control. The process of disintegration of the kehillah was long and tortuous; its demise was nevertheless inevitable under modern conditions.
In modern times, until World War II, Western Europe followed the consistorial (see *Consistory) pattern established by Napoleon in France and her conquered territories. In Paris there were Orthodox, Liberal, and Sephardi congregations. The East European Jews had their own Federation of Societies. In the Netherlands, the consistory of 1808 was replaced in 1814 by the former Ashkenazi and Sephardi organizations. In 1817 a Central Commission on Jewish Affairs was established, consisting of seven members, to work with local rabbis and elders, but it was abolished in 1848 by the new constitution which offered churches state subventions. In 1870 a new central commission was formed for ten districts, each with its independent rabbi and government subsidies. In 1917 their rights were narrowed. In Belgium the consistorial system existed from the days of Napoleon and was renewed in 1835 when membership in the community was made compulsory. In 1873 the state offered subsidies to Jewish communities. Membership was made voluntary in 1892. In 1933 a Council of Jewish Organizations was established to coordinate nationally both religious and secular institutions.
Under French occupation during the Napoleonic wars Italy introduced the consistorial system. When the old order was reestablished, it varied in the several states. In united Italy central regulation ensued. The law of 1857 applying to Piedmont and later extended to most of the country provided for community membership in the place of domicile, unless otherwise declared. The community's religious and educational activities were tax-supported. In 1911 the Jewish communities were united in the Consorzio fra le Comunità Israelitiche Italiane. Under Fascist rule, by a law of 1931, membership was made compulsory, and the central union was guided by a consultative committee of three rabbis.
The 24 Jewish communities of Switzerland organized in 1904 the Union of Swiss Jewish Communities to regulate their external and internal affairs. In Great Britain there were several national synagogue bodies. One body, largely based on synagogue representation, served as the official voice of British Jews in external matters – the *Board of Deputies of British Jews founded in 1760. The Ashkenazi congregations clustered around the *United Synagogue headed by the chief rabbi. Other congregations were affiliated with the Federation of Synagogues, the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, and Liberal, Reform, and Spanish-Portuguese congregations. There was also a Jewish Board of Guardians and welfare. In the British Commonwealth, Canada has a central representative agency, the *Canadian Jewish Congress. South Africa, too, has a Board of Deputies and a Board of Jewish Education. Australia has an Executive Council of Australian Jewry as well as State Boards of Deputies.
The Jewish communities of Central Europe, especially in Germany, were highly organized and enjoyed much power. Each settlement had only one community organization to which
In Austria, which did not have a uniform law until 1890, the situation varied. In Galicia the rabbis contested the right of laymen to control community life. Bohemia boasted a central representation of Jews, the Landesjudenschaft, while in Moravia 52 autonomous communities had their separate municipal administration and police. In the German-speaking provinces of Austria proper, mainly Vienna, Jews were empowered in 1792 to collect Buechelgeld for religious purposes. The law of 1890, which regulated the life of all the communities in the empire and remained in force in the republic after World War I, provided for compulsory membership and taxation, and one kahal in each locality to control all Jewish public activities.
In Hungary the medieval form of organization of the community was left undisturbed by *Joseph II's decree of 1783 regulating Jewish life. Until 1871 there was a struggle between Liberal and Orthodox leaders for control of the community, finally resolved by government approval of a threefold division of independent community unions consisting of Liberal, Orthodox, and "status quo," that is, those who were not involved in the struggle. Czechoslovak Jewry formed a supreme Council of the Federations of Jewish Communities in Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia, which were later governed by the Austrian law of 1890. In the eastern provinces Slovakia had both *Neolog and Orthodox communities, but Carpathian Ruthenia was entirely Orthodox. In 1920 a state-recognized Organization of Orthodox Jewish Communities was established.
In Eastern Europe the old forms of community government were the most tenacious. As in most of Europe they persisted despite adverse government legislation. After World War I the concept of *minority rights was briefly favored and a number of countries helped maintain Jewish schools. Secularization of Jewish life produced a variety of political parties, each seeking to gain a decisive voice in communal affairs. Despite oppressive government legislation in Russia, Jewish community life retained its vigor into the 20th century. When the kahal was abolished (1844), the government handed over Jewish affairs to the police and the municipalities; yet the Jewish communities were still saddled with the two most burdensome responsibilities – state tax collecting and army recruiting (see *Cantonists). In 1835, government-appointed rabbis, who did not have to be ordained, were introduced to take charge of registration and other official requirements. In 1917 democratic Jewish communities were established by the provisional government. When the Bolsheviks seized power they put an end to Jewish community organization and formed a "Jewish commissariat," only to dissolve it in 1923. The *Yevsektsiya, the Jewish section of the Communist Party, was formed in 1918 and lasted until 1930. It helped suppress all traditional Jewish institutions and sought to develop a Yiddish press and Yiddish-speaking schools. In the meantime a committee (the Yidgezkom), supported by the *American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, coordinated the vast relief activities of a number of previously existing social welfare organizations. In the short-lived, quasi-independent Ukraine wide autonomy was projected in 1917 with a minister of Jewish affairs and a national council. Bolshevik occupation put an end to these efforts.
Congress Poland (see *Poland) abolished the kahal in 1822, replacing it by a synagogue board (Dozer boznicy) consisting of a rabbi, his assistant, and three elders, whose task was limited to religion and to social welfare. After World War I the German patterns of community government were established in large parts of the new Polish state. Taxes were levied, and religious and other needs were provided for. In the sphere of social welfare the Joint Distribution Committee played an important role. Jewry became divided into factions – Orthodox, Zionist, *Po'alei Zion, *Bund, and others – each vying for a share of community control.
In the Baltic countries, the Lithuanian republic established in 1918 a Ministry of Jewish Affairs and a National Council to take charge of religion, education, social welfare, and other autonomous Jewish affairs. In 1924 these national agencies were dissolved. Autonomy granted in Latvia in 1919 extended only to Hebrew and Yiddish schools, often subsidized from municipal taxes, with a Jewish department in the Ministry of Education. In Estonia the National Cultural Autonomy Act of 1925 was the most liberal. Jewish schools received subsidies from state and municipal treasuries.
The Balkan countries exhibited a variety of attitudes to Jewish group existence. Some extended wide autonomy, especially under the provisions for minority rights; others curtailed it. Under the ḥakham bashi, until the abolition of the caliphate and the separation of church and state, Turkish Jewry had considerable autonomy and standing in the imperial court. In 1923 Turkey refused to honor the minority rights promised in the Treaty of Lausanne and Jewish autonomy was restricted to purely religious matters. In Greece Jews were permitted to levy compulsory taxation and were granted government subsidies.
Romania had largely voluntary associations until 1928, when Jews were required to belong to the local community, except for the Sephardim in Moldavia and Walachia and the Orthodox in Transylvania. The government contributed toward Jewish institutions. The chief rabbi represented the Jews in the senate. In Yugoslavia conditions differed according to regions. Croatian and Slavonian communities dealt with religious and charitable affairs. In Zagreb an executive committee of 36 controlled the synagogues and other institutions. In Serbia, Macedonia, and Bosnia there were chief rabbis and religious-educational activities. In 1929 a law united the communities of Yugoslavia and offered subventions. Control was in the hands of a council. The chief rabbi of Belgrade was accorded the same rank as a bishop and had a seat in the senate. Wider autonomy was enjoyed by Bulgarian Jewry. Even before 1920, when national minority rights were granted to them, the Jews could impose taxes; their chief rabbi was paid his salary by the state. Thereafter each community was governed by a council; the larger communities had religious courts whose decisions were executed by the authorities. Centrally they were governed by a legislative congress and an executive, democratically elected Consistoire Central.
In Tunisia, owing to the influence of Algeria to the west, changes were introduced in the powers and structure of Jewish religious courts even before the country became a French protectorate. The bey, Muhammad al-Ṣādiq, who organized civil courts for all his subjects, restricted the authority of the rabbinical courts to matters of personal status. In 1898 he ordered the composition and jurisdiction of the Jewish religious court in Tunis to be reorganized. The new composition of the court was as follows: the chief rabbi of Tunisia, honorary president; one rabbi, presiding judge; two dayyanim; two deputy dayyanim; and one clerk. The sessions of the court were held in public under the chairmanship of the presiding judge, with two dayyanim or deputy dayyanim as assessors. The jurisdiction of the court was extended over the whole country, and it was possible to bring any matter, from anywhere, directly before it or to appeal to it against a judgment given by a dayyan in a provincial town. On the other hand, the court was denied the right to deal with matters concerning the personal status of Algerian Jews, since these were French nationals, or concerning persons under the protection of a foreign state. The salaries of the rabbi, of all the dayyanim belonging to the court, and of the clerk were paid from the bey's treasury. The chief rabbi of Tunisia was at first given wide powers over communal organization and religious life. According to the decrees of the bey concerning the organization of the committees of the Caisses de Secours et de Bienfaisance Israélite – the official designation of the Jewish communities in Tunisia – in several provincial towns, the chief rabbi proposed the members of some of them and submitted their financial reports to the prime minister. Elsewhere this right was reserved to the contrôleur civil, i.e., the district governor. The chief rabbi granted kabbalot (certificates of competency) to ritual slaughterers and licenses of communal notaries. These powers extended over the entire country, except for the towns where they were vested expressly in the local rabbi. The chief rabbi presided over the rabbinical council attached to the chief rabbinate and the examining board for notaries. The rabbinical council set up under a beylical decree of 1922 consisted of six members appointed by the prime minister, on the recommendation of the chief rabbi, for a period of one year (the appointment was renewable). The council was to advise on all religious matters concerning Tunisian Jewry. Its meetings were attended by a government representative, who acted as an observer.
A law promulgated by the president of the Tunisian republic, Ḥabib Bourguiba, in July 1958 dissolved the community council of Tunis. On the same day the Department of Justice summoned eight Jewish notables in order to appoint them as a "Provisional Committee for the Management of the Jewish Religion." The main task of the committee was to prepare elections for the leadership of the religious society, which was to take the place of the Tunis community council. The law provided that "religious societies" of a district should be managed by an administrative council elected by all Jews of either sex of that district who were Tunisian nationals and were above 21 years of age. Every administrative council was to consist of five to 15 members, depending on the size of the society. Each district was to have not more than one religious society, and there might be one society for several districts. The provisional committee, replacing the Caisse de Secours et de Bienfaisance Israélite in the Sfax district, was appointed by the district governor in November, and the one for Gabès in December 1958.
A different development took place in the Jewish community of Algeria, which from 1830 was a part of France. A decisive role was played by the Jews of French nationality who began to stream into the country after the occupation. As mentioned, they did not content themselves with the restriction of the powers of the rabbinical courts and the abolition of the office of muqaddim, but wished to organize the community on the model of the consistory, the political and religious body of French Jewry established by Napoleon I and based on the principle of the priority of obligations toward the state. In 1845 the regulations for the organization of the Algerian consistory were published; their functions were defined as (1) to ensure the orderly conduct of communal affairs; (2) to supervise the school attendance of the children; (3) to encourage Jews to engage in useful crafts; and (4) to supervise endowments and charitable funds. After the regulations came into force, consistories were established in Algiers and Oran in 1847 and in Constantine in 1848. A decree issued in 1867 imposed the authority of the Consistoire Central, the supreme religious body of French Jewry, on the three Algerian consistories.
Morocco retained its sovereignty until 1912. The events of World War I slowed down France's military efforts to gain control of the interior and of the south of the country (where the occupation and the subjection of the free tribes were completed only in the mid-1930s). Nevertheless, the French administration drafted two decrees (ḍahīr) which were published in May 1918 – in the name of the Moroccan ruler and with the signature of the French high commissioner. One of them dealt with the organization of the Jewish communal courts and the other with the organization of the Jewish communities. At first seven rabbinical courts (tribunaux) of first instance, each consisting of three dayyanim, were set up in Casablanca, Fez, Mogador, Meknès, Marrakesh, Oujda, and Tangiers. In 1953 a court of this nature began to function also in Rabat. Simultaneously, a High Court of Appeal was established in Rabat with a bench of three: the chief rabbi as president and two judges. The dispersal of the Jewish population over a wide area necessitated the appointment of rabbins-délégués for provincial towns where no courts existed. Their powers were less than those of the full-scale courts. During the 1960s, when the Jewish population of Morocco dwindled to one-fifth of its previous size (about 50,000), many communities disappeared completely and numerous posts of rabbins-délégués ceased to exist, as did – in 1965 – the High Court of Appeal.
The second decree issued in May 1918 dealt with the organization and powers of Jewish community committees in Moroccan towns. These committees were to consist of the president of the rabbinical court, the rabbin-délégué, and notables who were chosen by the grand vizier from a list submitted by the communities and whose number varied according to the size of the Jewish population; in 1945 this choice of notables was replaced, in theory, by the election by secret ballot of candidates from among whom the authorities were to select the members of the committees. The term of office of the members was four years. The functions of the committees were to maintain religious services, to assist the needy, and to administer endowments. A decree promulgated in 1945 established a council of Jewish communities, which had to coordinate the activities of the communities. It consisted of the heads of the various communities and met once a year in Rabat under the chairmanship of a representative of the Directorate of Sherifian Affairs. These meetings dealt with matters of budget, housing, education, and hygiene. The question of permanent representation of the communities was also mooted. In the early 1950s a permanent bureau was set up under a secretary-general. The bureau was to guide the community committees in preparing budgets, operating services, and providing education in talmud torah institutions and evening classes. Most of the revenue of the communities came from charges on ritual slaughtering and the sale of maẓẓot, as well as from the management of public endowments, which were not many, since most endowments were family ones. The council sent six delegates to the Moroccan (natives) Committee of the Council of Government. It published a four-page monthly under the title La Voix des Communautés. Upon the reinstatement of Sultan Muhammad V in 1958 and the rise to power of the nationalist Istiqlāl party, the composition of the community committees was changed by appointing persons acceptable to the ruling group. With this change in policy they lost what little independence and initiative they had possessed and became tools of the government.
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U.S. Jewry, with its frequent waves of immigration from a large variety of countries, has launched many and ambitious forms of community organization. Until late in the 19th century these remained for the most part purely local in character. Wherever they settled in sufficient numbers the original Sephardi immigrants to the United States formed burial societies, benevolent and charitable associations, hospitals, synagogues and Hebrew schools, rabbinical courts, etc., all patterned originally on similar institutions in the Old World. The German immigration of the mid-19th century created a parallel series of institutions, as did the large Eastern European immigration of the years 1880–1920. In addition the immigrants from Eastern Europe originated the *Landsmannshaften, organizations which consisted of members hailing from the same town or region and which offered sick and burial insurance, free loans, poor relief, a place to pray, and perhaps, above all, conviviality and a sense of belonging in the New World. Thus, at the end of the 19th century the American Jewish community was largely composed of a proliferation of local synagogues and organizations, frequently formed along lines of national origin and often duplicating each other's efforts with little or no coordination between them. On a local level the first attempts at centralization began to appear late in the 19th century and continued with increasing scope into the 20th. The first city-wide Jewish welfare federation in America was established in Boston in 1895; the first municipal bureau of Jewish education, in 1910. An attempt under J.L. *Magnes to establish a kehillah in New York lasted for about a decade before breaking up. Local YMHAs and YWHAs developed into Jewish community centers offering a wide range of educational, social, and recreational activities in many American cities. In 1970 such local Jewish federations, community councils, and welfare funds, whose function it was to coordinate Jewish communal life and regulate the disbursement of funds to it, existed in one form or another in 300 cities in 43 states in
The transplantation of Jews with East and Central European backgrounds to Latin America, primarily in the 20th century gave rise to a replica of the European kehillah that did not enjoy the same official status but was tacitly recognized by Jews and non-Jews alike as the organized Jewish community. These communities had a distinct public character but were not directly recognized in public law. In the last analysis, they had relied entirely on the voluntary attachment of their members. In sum, they functioned in an environment that provided neither the cultural nor the legal framework for a European-model kehillah. Characteristically, the Ashkenazi communities among them, as opposed to the Sephardi communities, emphasized the secular rather than the religious side of Jewish life. Founded in the main by men who considered themselves secularists (regardless of the level of their personal religious observance), they were developed in the mold of secular Diaspora nationalism, a powerful ideology at the time of their creation. However, since the 1960s there has been a new trend, and even the Ashkenazim tend more to emphasize the religious basis of their organization.
The Latin American communities have been relatively successful in their attempt to maintain European patterns primarily because the great social and cultural gap between the Jews and their neighbors in those countries with a large population of Indian origin aided in giving the Jews a self-image as a special and distinct, indeed superior, group, which in turn helped keep them apart in a corporate way as well as individually. This fact has important implications for the character of their community organization. In the first place, while the communities themselves were all founded in the modern era, they are located in essentially homogeneous societies whose social structures originated before the beginning of that period. Moreover, they were founded by people coming for the most part from still-modernizing societies of a different kind in Europe. As a result, assimilation into the host society was far more difficult than in other countries of migration, while, at the same time, the Jewish founders were able to build their institutions upon a far stronger sense of communal self-government than that which prevailed among more emancipated Jews. The community-wide "roof " organizations they have created have thus been able to attract and keep virtually every Jewish organization and affiliated Jew within their structures on a formally voluntary basis, while gaining informal governmental recognition as the "address" of the Jewish community.
The same phenomena also contributed to the dominant pattern of organizing the Jewish immigrants according to their countries of origin. Just as the Jewish immigrants did not assimilate into their host societies, so, too, they did not assimilate among one another, following a pattern not uncommon
In three of the large Latin American countries (including Argentina and Brazil, the largest), the indigenous federal structures of the countries themselves influenced the Jews to create countrywide confederations based on territorial divisions (officially uniting state or provincial communities which are, in fact, local communities concentrated in the state or provincial capitals). In the other 21, the local federation of the city containing the overwhelming majority of the Jewish population became the countrywide unit, usually with the designation "council of communities." The community councils of the six Central American countries (total Jewish population 5,650) have organized the Federation of Central American Jewish Communities to pool resources and provide common services.
With the revival of open Jewish settlement on the Iberian Peninsula, Jewish communities similar to the "council of communities" took shape in both Spain and Portugal, for many of the same reasons. Similarly, the small Jewish community of Monaco found that same pattern most suitable.
None of the tacitly recognized communal structures has been in existence for more than two generations, and the communities themselves originated no more than three or possibly four generations ago. Most of the smaller ones were in the 1970s entering their second generation, since they were created by the refugees of the 1930s and 1940s. Indeed, all gained substantially as a result of Nazism and the Jews' need to leave Europe before, during, and after World War II. Consequently, many, if not most, were still in the process of developing an appropriate and accepted community constitution.
The great postwar adjustment that has faced the Latin American communities centers on the emergence of a native-born majority in their ranks. This new generation has far less attachment to the "old country" way of life with its ideologies and country-of-origin communities making the whole community structure less relevant to them. Moreover, they are already beginning to assimilate into their own countries of birth, or at least into the local radical movements, in familiar Jewish ways. For them, the deportivo, or community recreational center, often seems the most relevant form of Jewish association. On the other hand, the host countries, whose aim is the cultural assimilation of all minorities into a common mold, are not particularly receptive to the perpetuation of communities built on a Diaspora nationalist ideology. At the same time, they are committed, at least theoretically, to guaranteeing full freedom of religion for all legitimate groups, thereby pushing Jews toward at least a formal religious identification in order to maintain their communal identity while conforming to local mores. Both developments are encouraging a trend toward a kind of associational Jewishness in place of the organic pattern of the founding generation. It is not surprising, then, that the organizational structure that at first reflected and then came to reinforce the interests of the founding generation is becoming increasingly obsolete, creating a constitutional crisis of first magnitude in the ranks of organized Latin American Jewry. To the degree that a territorially based communal structure has emerged, with its accompanying substructure of association activities whose participants are drawn in for reasons of interest rather than simply descent, this constitutional crisis is being overcome.
The tacitly recognized community structures of Latin American Jewry have become important forms of Jewish communal organization in modern times, with around 400,000 Jews living within their framework at the outset of the 21st century. Their decline during the last 30 years was provoked by occasional waves of out migration due to economic and political crises, low fertility, and out marriages. They are all located in very unstable environments, which do not necessarily encourage pluralism, although there are signs of greater tolerance in this respect. Consequently, Latin American Jewries are also more closely tied to the State of Israel as a surrogate homeland (madre patria is the Spanish term they use) than any others. Their attempt to create a unified communal structure on a voluntary basis under such conditions bears close examination.
Jewish communal organization has undergone many changes since the inception of the Israelite polity somewhere in the Sinai Desert, but none has been more decisive than those which have affected it in the past four centuries, and none more significant than those of the period since the end of World War II. The inauguration of the modern era in the 17th century initiated a process of decorporatization of Jewish communal life that gained momentum in the following two centuries. Jewish corporate autonomy, a feature of Diaspora existence in one form or another since the Babylonian exile, never even took hold in the New World, whose Jewish communities were all established in the modern era. Developments after World War I weakened that kind of autonomy in Europe, where it had been on the wane for two centuries. Only in the Muslim countries did the old forms persist, until the nationalist revolutions of the post–World War II period eliminated them.
The process of decorporatization – perhaps denationalization is a better term – brought with it efforts to redefine Jewish life in Protestant religious terms in Western Europe and North America and in socialist secular ones in Eastern Europe and, somewhat later, in Latin America. In Europe,
the process was promoted both from within the Jewish community and without by Jews seeking wider economic and social opportunities as individuals and by newly nationalistic regimes seeking to establish the state as the primary force in the life of all residents within its boundaries. In the Americas, it came automatically as individual Jews found themselves with the same status and opportunities as other migrants to the New World.
Out of decorporatization came new forms of Jewish communal organization on the countrywide and local levels: (1) the consistory of post-revolutionary France (which spread to the other countries within the French sphere of influence in Europe), an attempt to create a Jewish "church" structure parallel to that of the French Protestant Church; (2) the 19th-century Central European kehillah, essentially a ritual and social agency chartered and regulated by the secular government as a means of registering all Jews and binding them to some "religious" grouping; (3) the united congregational pattern of England and her overseas colonies and dominions, whereby Jews voluntarily organized synagogues which then banded together to create a board to represent Jewish interests to the host country; (4) the radically individualistic organizational pattern of the United States, whereby individual Jews banded together locally (and sometimes nationally) to create whatever kind of Jewish association they wished without any kind of supralocal umbrella organization even for external representation; and, early in the 20th century, (5) separate communal associations based on the Landsmannshaft principle, which became the basis for voluntary affiliation of the Jewish immigrants to Latin America. The common denominator of all these different forms was their limited scope and increasingly voluntary character.
While these organizational changes were taking shape, a two-pronged demographic shift of great importance began. In the first place, the live birth and survival rate among Jews rose rapidly, causing the number of Jews in the world to soar. In the second, the Jews began to migrate at an accelerating rate to the lands on the Western world's great frontier: the Western Hemisphere and southern Africa and Australia in particular, but also, in smaller numbers, to east Asia, initiating a shift in the balance of Jewish settlement in the world. Finally, the modern era saw Jewish resettlement of the Land of Israel. The first to go to the land as founders of entirely new settlements began to arrive in the 17th century and continued regularly thereafter, pioneering new communities of a traditional character within the framework of the Ottoman Empire's millet system. They were followed, in due course, by the Zionist pioneers who created new forms of communal life, beginning in the late 19th century as part of the last stage of the modern transformation of the Jewish people.
World War II marked the culmination of all the trends and tendencies of the modern era and the end of the era itself for all of mankind. For the Jewish people, the Holocaust and the establishment of the State of Israel were the pair of decisive events that marked the crossing of the watershed into the "postmodern" world. In the process, the entire basis of the Jewish polity was radically changed; the locus of Jewish life shifted and virtually every organized Jewish community was reconstituted in some significant way.
The Jewish world that greeted the new State was no longer an expanding one which was gaining population even in the face of "normal" attrition through intermarriage and assimilation. Quite to the contrary, it was a decimated one (even worse – for decimated implies the loss of one in ten; the Jews lost one in three) whose very physical survival had been in grave jeopardy and whose rate of loss from defections came close to equaling its birthrate. Moreover, the traditional strongholds of Jewish communal life in Europe (which were
also areas with a high Jewish reproduction rate) were those that had been wiped out. At the end of the 1940s, the centers of Jewish life had shifted to a decisive extent away from Europe to Israel and North America. Continental Europe as a whole ranked behind Latin America, North Africa, and Great Britain as a force in Jewish life. Its Jews were almost entirely dependent upon financial and technical assistance from the United States and Israel. Except for those in the Muslim countries (that were soon to virtually disappear), all of the major functioning Jewish communities had acquired sufficient proportions to become significant factors on the Jewish scene only within the previous two generations. Many of the shapers of those communities were still alive and in many cases still the active communal leaders. The Jewish world had been thrown back to a pioneering stage, willy-nilly.
The organization of Jewish communal life reflected these
The Jewish communities in the Moslem countries were transformed in response to the convergence of two factors: the creation of Israel and the anticolonial revolutions in Asia and Africa. The greater portion of the Jewish population in those countries was transferred to Israel, and organized Jewish life virtually came to an end in all of them except Morocco. The changes in their situation are summarized in Table 5: Postwar Changes in Jewish Communities in Moslem Countries.
The English-speaking Jewries (and, to a somewhat lesser extent, those of Latin America) were faced with the more complex task of adapting their organizational structures to three new purposes: to assume responsibilities passed to them as a result of the destruction of European Jewry, to play a major role in assisting Israel, and to accommodate internal changes in communities still becoming acculturated. Their responses are summarized in Table 6: Postwar Changes in Major English-Speaking Jewish Communities and Table 7: Postwar Changes in Latin American and Caribbean Jewish Communities.
Many of the smaller Jewish communities in Asia and Africa were actually founded or received organized form in this period, while others, consisting in the main of transient merchants or refugees, were abandoned, as shown in Table 7: Postwar Developments in Asian and African Jewish Communities. Finally, all but a handful of the Jewish communities in the contemporary world have had to adjust to the new realities of voluntary choice, which, on one hand, gave Jews greater freedom than ever before to identify as Jews or not and, on the other, encouraged a wide variety of options for Jewish identification within each community.
Whatever the form of community organization, the primary fact of Jewish communal life today is its voluntary character. While there are some differences from country to country in the degree of actual freedom to be Jewish or not, the virtual
disappearance of the remaining legal and even social and cultural barriers to individual free choice in all but a handful of countries has made free association the dominant characteristic of Jewish life in the "postmodern" era. Consequently, the
first task of each Jewish community is to learn to deal with the particular local manifestation of this freedom. This task is a major factor in determining the direction of the reconstitution of Jewish life in this generation. The new voluntarism extends itself into the internal life of the Jewish community as well, generating pluralism even in previously free but relatively homogeneous or monolithic community structures. This pluralism is exacerbated by the breakdown of the traditional reasons for being Jewish and the rise of new incentives for Jewish association. At the same time, the possibilities for organizing a pluralistic Jewish community have also been enhanced by these new incentives and the "postmodern" breakdown of the rigid ideologies that divided Jews in the latter third of the modern era. Certainly the creation of the State of Israel has given the Jewish people a new and compelling focus that enhances the Jewish attachments of virtually all Jews. The state's crucial role as a generator of Jewish ties, regardless of other differences, was decisively demonstrated at the time of the *Six-Day War (1967).
Pluralism organized into more or less permanent structural arrangements leads to federalism, and federalism has been the traditional way in which the Jewish people has maintained its unity in the face of the pressures of diversity. This is one tradition that is not being abandoned today. The previous sections have suggested the wide variety of federal arrangements that presently exist in the organized Jewish communities of the world. In each case, the Jewish community adapts itself to the environment of the host country so that its own structure reflects local conditions while facilitating (as far as possible) the achievement of the main purposes of corporate Jewish life. In virtually every case, the structure that emerges from the adaptation is based on federal principles and uses federal forms. The pluralistic federalism of the voluntaristic community substantially eliminates the neat pattern of communal organization usually displayed as the model by those who concern themselves with rationalizing Jewish community life. Though smaller communities in different cultural settings are not likely to conform completely, more and more the seemingly anarchistic American pattern is revealed as the paradigm of their development, if not the vision of their future. Certainly the model of a hierarchic organizational structure does not offer an accurate picture of the distribution of powers and responsibilities in any Jewish community today. Even in the more formally structured communities of Central Europe and Latin America, the institution that appears to be at the top of the pyramid is really dependent upon and often manipulated by the institutions and organizations that would be placed farther down on the structure. The local
The structure of contemporary Jewish communities is best understood as a multidimensional matrix (or mosaic) that takes the form of a communications network; a set of interacting institutions which, while preserving their own structural integrity and roles, are informed by shared patterns of culture, activated by a shared system of organizations, and governed by shared leadership cadres. The character of the matrix and its communications network varies from community to community, with particularly sharp variations separating the six basic types. In some cases, the network is connected through a common center, which serves as the major (but rarely, if ever, the exclusive) channel for communication. In others, the network forms a matrix without any real center, with the lines of communication crisscrossing in all directions. In all cases, the boundaries of the community are revealed only when the pattern of the network is uncovered. The pattern itself is perceptible only when both of its components are revealed, namely its institutions and organizations with their respective roles and the way in which communications are passed between them.
The pattern itself is inevitably a dynamic one; that is to say, there is rarely a fixed division of authority and influence but, rather, one that varies from time to time and usually from issue to issue, with different elements in the matrix taking on different "loads" at different times and relative to different issues. Since the community is a voluntary one, persuasion
rather than compulsion, influence rather than power are the only tools available for making and executing policies. This also works to strengthen its character as a communications network since the character, quality, and relevance of what is communicated and the way in which it is communicated frequently determine the extent of the authority and influence of the parties on the communication.
[Daniel J. Elazar]
The discussion in the foregoing pages has been more or less restricted to the matrix of institutions and organizations that form a community on the countrywide plane. The Jewish polity as a whole, however, functions on several planes. The federal connections between local and countrywide communities and between Jewish communities around the world have also undergone important changes since World War II, and the feedback has begun to have a significant effect on the countrywide and local communities involved.
Before the modern era, although there were no formal organizations that functioned on a worldwide basis to unite the various Jewish communities, the common allegiance to halakhic Judaism and reliance upon traditional Jewish law gave the Jewish people the constitutional unity it needed. During the modern era, this unity was shattered, and nothing comparable developed to replace it. By the end of the 19th century, all that there was in the way of an organized worldwide Jewish polity was an informal alliance and organizations of Jewish "aristocrats" in the Western world who had taken it upon themselves to try and defend Jewish interests and protect the rights of individual Jews, so as to aid in their emancipation. These inadequate arrangements effectively perished in World War I, when the world which encouraged that mode of community action came to an end.
Meanwhile, tentative steps in the direction of a reorganization more appropriate to the 20th century were beginning to be made. The World Zionist Organization and its member organizations, the *American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the B'nai B'rith, and later the *World Jewish Congress
began to offer more routinized and less elitist means of tying Jews together on a worldwide basis. All together, they began to create an infrastructure for a new Jewish confederation in the making.
After World War II, the structure of the Jewish confederation underwent further adaptation. This strengthening of the organizational aspects of the worldwide Jewish polity was partly a consequence of the changes taking place in its constituent communities. The other crucial factor is the State of Israel. The trend has been clear: the concentration in Israel of the major decision-making organs of the Jewish confederation and the organizations that serve it and the routing of their decision-making procedures through Jerusalem, even as the structures, centered in Israel, have at the beginning of the new century been experiencing considerable strain. This trend has become particularly noticeable since the Six-Day War, after which the Israel government began to take very explicit steps to reorganize and strengthen the institutions and organizations of world Jewry by tying them closer to the state. Israel's greater ability, as an independent state, to deal with political matters and its great stake in strengthening the worldwide Jewish confederation has led it to assume this role. Two major events – the Six-Day War in 1967 and the beginnings of the Soviet Jewry movement in 1963 – signaled that the American Jewish communal agenda would be more particularistic than it had been. Israel became the focal point of Jewish identification, the one Jewish phenomenon whose crucial importance is accepted by virtually all Jews and that has the ability to mobilize widespread public efforts in what is, after all, still a voluntary polity. Perhaps paradoxically, at the very moment that free individual choice in the matter of Jewish attachment has reached heights never previously attained, there has been a rediscovery of the Jewish polity, i.e., of the special political character of the Jewish community. In the first decade of the 21st century, however, new patterns in the American Jewish community – and especially in the consciousness of a younger cadre of Jews – had emerged. There was a diminution of the idea of a collective "community" as the meaning of Jewishness was increasingly defined in subjective individual constructs. American Jews found less meaning in formal Jewish organizations (except the local synagogue), political activity, philanthropic endeavors, and attachment to the state of Israel. The traditional institutions of community became less significant than they were to earlier generations of Jews in America. Because they feel that their identity as Jews is immutable, American Jews increasingly do not need the normative communal behaviors of the past in order to express their identity. This changing approach to "community" will have significant implications for the future of Jewish communal organizational structures, for communal fundraising, and for a range of communal involvements.
[Daniel J. Elazar /
J. Chanes (2nd ed.)]
See also Communal *Amenities; *Autonomy; Judicial *Autonomy; Autonomous Jewish *Finances; Territorial *Federations of Communities; *Foundations (Community Federations); *Consistory; *Councils of the Lands; *AMIA; *DAIA; *Kultus Gemeinde; *Millet; *Landesjudenschaften; *Jewish Quarter; *Chief Rabbi; *Ḥakahm Bashi; *Muqaddim; *Takkanot; *Shtadlan; *Pinkas; *Exilarch; *Ḥerem; *Ḥerem ha-Yishuv; *Ḥerem Bet Din; *Minority Rights; *Synagogue. For communal organizations in the various countries, see entries for the respective countries.
UP TO WORLD WAR II: Baron, Community; Baron, Social2; Baer, Spain; idem, in: Zion, 15 (1950), 1–41 (Eng. summary, i–v); M. Burstein (Avidor), Self-Government of the Jews in Palestine since 1900 (1934); I. Levitats, Jewish Community in Russia, 1772–1884 (1943); L. Finkelstein, Jewish Self-Government in the Middle Ages (19642); M.S. Goodblatt, Jewish Life in Turkey in the 16th Century (1943); M. Franco, Essai sur l'histoire des Israélites de l'Empire Ottoman (1897); S. Rosanes, Divrei Yemei Yisrael be-Togarmah, 5 vols. (1930); W.J. Fischel, Ha-Yehudim be-Hodu (1960); J.M. Landau, The Jews in Nineteenth Century Egypt (1969); Hirschberg, Afrikah; idem, in: A.J. Arberry (ed.), Religion in the Middle East, 1 (1969), 119–225 (selected bibliography, vol. 2, 661–3); H.H. Ben-Sasson, Perakim be-Toledot ha-Yehudim bi-Ymei ha-Beinayim (1962); idem (ed.), Toledot Am Yisrael, 3 vols. (1969), index, S.V. Kehillot; I. Agus, Urban Civilization in Pre-Crusade Europe, 2 (1965), 421–553; M.J. Karpf, Jewish Community Organization in the United States (1938); B.M. Edidin, Jewish Community Life in America (1947). SINCE WORLD WAR II: Bi-Tefuẓot ha-Golah (Eng. ed., In the Dispersion; 1958); S. Federbush, World Jewry Today (1959); Institute of Jewish Affairs, New York, Jewish Communities of the World (1959); J. Katz, Tradition and Crisis (1961); O. Janowsky (ed.), The American Jew: A Reappraisal (1964); JYB; AJYB. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: D. Elazar, People and Polity: Organizational Dynamics of World Jewry (1989); idem, Community and Polity (19952); J. Chanes, A Primer on the American Jewish Community (19992); idem (ed.), A Portrait of the American Jewish Community (1998).
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.