This beautifully illuminated and calligraphed manuscript pinkas (register) records the mission statement (ff. 4r-11r) and ten new bylaws (ff. 12r-14r) of the hevrah in 5645 (1885), thirteen years after its founding, when it began raising funds to build houses in Jerusalem for society members who could not afford the costs on their own. To this end, collectors living abroad were appointed to subscribe local Jews as members of the hevrah and to then transfer the money received to the society’s headquarters in Jerusalem. Both documents were written in Hebrew and translated into a highly Germanic register of Yiddish. The Hebrew versions were stamped with three of the society’s stamps and signed by hand by Rabbi Jacob Zevi Neuman (d. 1889), formerly the av beit din (chief rabbinic justice) of Uherské Hradiště (present-day Czech Republic); Rabbi Lipa Meir Wigolek (d. 1932), maggid (preacher) of the hevrah; an accountant; and three other officers.
Membership in the society was open to men and women, old and young, and indeed this pinkas features separate men’s (ff. 18r-98v) and women’s (ff. 99r-142v) sections, both of which list alphabetically by first name (usually on two to four pages per letter) all the members of the hevrah who had paid their dues. At the rear (ff. 143r, 155v, and 156v) appear accounts of donations sent by the representatives of the society in Manchester, England, in the years 5648-5650 (1888-1890), as well as a record noting that the aforementioned representatives had decided that as of Elul 5649 (1889) they would split the money collected equally between Hevrat Derekh ha-Hayyim and the members of a different Jerusalem-based group, the Kolel Suwałki-Łomża.
Lipa Meir Wigolek (front flyleaf)
Jacob Goldmann, “Hashkafah kelalit al matsav b[enei] y[isra’el] be-er[ets] ha-k[odesh], ve-al korot yishuv ha-arets ba-avar u-ba-hoveh,” Ha-asif 3 (1886): 69-98, at p. 74.
Jacob Goldmann, “Mif‘alei ha-tov ve-ha-hesed bi-yerushalayim,” Ha-asif 4 (1887): 17-40, at p. 35.
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