JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Re: "A question of Yizkor Books" #general


Bruce Drake and others have explained that a 'pinkas' was a "forerunner of
Yizkor Books written in the communities on a contemporaneous day by day
basis". But it is interesting to note that a 'pinkas' was not limited to town
or place, but also refers to the record ('social register and community
record') of a Jewish association.

For example, Jewish soldiers formed 'associations' or prayer groups within
their battalions in order to re-create a sense of Jewish community away
from home, to help support each other, to organize prayers and festival
celebrations, and to intercede with the military commanders on behalf of their

As Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern points out in his "Jews in the Russian Army
1827-1917" (Cambridge University Press 2009), "itinerant military units
sometimes formed prayer groups or even havurot, self-governing Jewish
fraternities...and the commissioning of a pinkas". For example, Jewish
soldiers in the Briansk regiment established their own 'Guardians of Faith
Society' in 1843. The society's pinkas detailed its membership as 28 active
members in 1843, up to 49 in 1883, and 44 in 1893, just before the pinkas' entries
cease. Prior to the 1870's, regiments did not have fixed barracks. The
'Guardians' pinkas consequently recorded their travels through Poland, Galicia,
Ukraine, Bessarabia and Bukova and their signed interaction with the Rabbis
and Jewish authorities of the towns through which they passed. These
endorsements were necessary for receiving the religious, assistance of the
communities. Besides providing religious support, the fraternity also required
soldierly solidarity: vowing never to betray a compatriot, interceding with
commanders for members ordered to duties on Sabbath and Jewish holidays,
helping members who accidentally damaged their equipment, raising funds to
'ransom' members >from punishment, etc. Another pinkas, that of the Jewish
soldiers of 'His Majesty the King of Saxony's fourth infantry Kopor'e
regiment', has been memorialized by Michael Stanislawski in his publication
"Psalms for the Tsar: A Minute Book of a Psalms Society in the Russian Army (New
York: Yeshiva University, 1988).

Donald Press (New York)

Searching: PRESS/PRES (Seda/Plunge, Lithuania & South Africa); HOFFMAN
(South Africa & USA); OWSEOWITZ/OVSEYIOVICH (Silale & South Africa);
BRUKH/BRUCH (Plunge, Lith.); MILNER (Silale); HART (London); DAVIDS (Amsterdam,

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