Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Pinkas of the Metz Rabbinic Court, 1771-1790

The Center for Jewish History and YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011, announce a symposium, Hidden from History: The Pinkas of the Metz Rabbinic Court, 1771-1790: Issues and Offshoots, convened by Jay R. Berkovitz, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Largely unknown to historians, the much-neglected records of rabbinic courts represent an unusually rich source for the study of the early modern family, community, social and economic life, and jurisprudence. With the approaching publication of the Pinkas of the Metz Beit Din, and following the recent appearance of the Frankfurt rabbinic court diary, “Hidden from History” will explore the range of issues that came before rabbinic courts in the last third of the eighteenth century and the implications of these records for the construction of memory and historical narrative.
Schedule and contacts after the jump.

Sunday, October 6, 2013
9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Welcome:  Judith Siegel, CJH and Jonathan Brent, YIVO

Metz—Then and Now    Greetings from Rabbi Bruno Fiszon, Chief Rabbi, Metz Jewish Community

Session 1:  Rabbinic Court Records as Untapped Sources of History

Chair:  Ephraim Kanarfogel, Yeshiva University

Protocols of Justice: The Metz Pinkas Beit Din, 1771-1790
Jay R. Berkovitz, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

A Trail from Two Cities: The Court Records of Metz and Frankfurt
Edward Fram, Ben-Gurion University

Discussant: Suzanne Last Stone, Cardozo Law School

Session 2:  Domestic Issues in Historical Perspective: The Family in Court and Community Records

Chair:  Marsha Rozenblit, University of Maryland

Family, Gender, and Social Structure in a Pinkas of Altona
Elisheva Carlebach, Columbia University

Dividing Marital Assets: Rabbinic Courts in Europe and New York
Ronald Warburg, Rabbinic Court Judge, New York

Discussant: Sarah Maza, Northwestern University

The Legacy of the Metz Beit Din in the Twenty First Century – Rabbi M.A. Halevi Bamberger, Rosh Bet Din/Head of the Jewish Court, Metz Jewish Community

Session 3:  The State and the Jews: Law and Power in Pre-modern Europe

Chair:  Adam Teller, Brown University

Jews' Knowledge and Use of State and Church Laws in the Early Modern Era
Magda Teter, Wesleyan University

The Power and Ambitions of the Parlement of Metz in the Eighteenth Century
Ronald Schechter, the College of William and Mary

Discussant:   Isser Woloch, Columbia University

Session 4: Roundtable Discussion: (Re)shaping the Past and the Future: Memory and Multiple Historical Narratives

The sources highlighted in this symposium, especially those referring to women, commercial relations between Jews and non-Jews, and the nexus between Jewish and general law, challenge conventional accounts of pre-modern Jewish history that emphasize the separation of Jews from general society. This session will consider the role of legal sources in constructing and reconstructing historical narratives. How is memory of the past shaped and reshaped by the recovery and rediscovery of forgotten or unknown texts? Participants will consider these issues from their own geographical or thematic expertise.

Chair:   Jay Berkovitz

Panel participants :
Debra Kaplan, Yeshiva University
Kenneth Stow, Haifa University
Adam Teller, Brown University
Magda Teter, Wesleyan University

Please visit for more information on the Symposium as well as the related exhibition, Circles of Justice, and accompanying public programs.  For more information, please contact Chris Barthel at