Friday, November 7, 2014

Berkovitz's "Protocols of Justice"

Jay R. Berkovitz, University of Massachusetts, has published, in two volumes, Protocols of Justice: The Pinkas of the Metz Rabbinic Court, 1771-1789 with Brill Academic Publishers.
Presented here to the public for the first time, the Pinkas of the Metz Beit Din is the official register of civil cases that came before the Metz rabbinic court in the two decades prior to the French Revolution. Brimming with details of commercial transactions, inheritance disputes, women's roles in economic life, and the interplay between French law and Jewish law, the Metz Pinkas offers remarkable evidence of the engagement of Jews with the surrounding society and culture. The two volumes of Protocols of Justice comprise the complete text of the Metz Pinkas Beit Din, which is fully annotated by the author, and a thorough analysis of its significance for history and law at the threshold of modernity.
Some blurbs:
Through his painstaking and path-breaking treatment of this incredibly nuanced and rich text, Jay Berkovitz has placed before academics and all other interested readers a heretofore untapped resource of vast importance. His insightful and extensive introductory monograph beautifully sets the stage for scholars in a wide array of fields to mine this material, which will undoubtedly yield significant new results in the history of Jewish and non-Jewish society in eighteenth-century Europe and beyond.  Ephraim Kanarfogel, E. Billi Ivry University Professor of Jewish History, Literature and Law, Yeshiva University 
Protocols of Justice is a scholarly tour de force. Jay Berkovitz has not only brought to life a type of source that has been all but ignored in the study of Jewish life in Europe in the early modern period but offers a rich introduction that places the material in its historical context. This is a book that will stand the test of time and is a must for academic libraries. Edward Fram, Department of Jewish History, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev