Encyclopedias of Jewish Communities

Project Name: Translation from Pinkasei Hakehillot (Encyclopedias of Jewish Communities)

Project Leader:

JewishGen Yizkor Book Project Manager Lance Ackerfeld

Project Synopsis

Pinkasei Hakehillot are encyclopedias of Jewish communities from their foundation till after the Holocaust that have been published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem. They include descriptions of communities large and small and especially those that aren't included in any existing Yizkor book making this material particularly unique.

The encyclopedias that are available are:

Key Audiences

Jewish genealogists tracing their roots in this town constitute the primary audience for the material. The material also has the potential to be of interest to researchers specializing in the history of particular areas.

Project Importance

Yizkor books are unique sources of information on once vibrant towns, primarily in central and Eastern Europe, whose Jewish populations were destroyed in the Holocaust. Written after World War II by émigrés and Holocaust survivors, yizkor books contain narratives of the history of the town, details of daily life, religious and political figures and movements, religious and secular education, and gripping stories of the major intellectual and Zionist movements of the 20th century. The necrologies and lists of residents are of tremendous genealogical value, as often the names of individuals who were taken to extermination camps or shot in the forests are not recorded elsewhere. Usually written in Hebrew or Yiddish, these important books are not accessible to most users, who cannot read these languages. Thus, the translation of these books into English unlocks this information to many more researchers all over the world. The JewishGen Yizkor Book Project received the award in 2002 for outstanding contribution to Jewish genealogy by the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies.

Project Description

This project is for people interested in a translation of a community description from one of the many Encyclopedias of the Jewish Communities.

The steps involved in initiating a translation:

  1. A donation is made to this project to cover translations costs of the section involved ($40 a page)
  2. The Project Coordinator is informed of the relevant Pinkas (Encyclopedia) and the page numbers of the section.
  3. The Project Coordinator will request permission from Yad Vashem to place the translation in the Yizkor Book site
  4. The Project Coordinator will obtain copies of the pages and pass them on to a professional translator
  5. After receipt of the translation, a page will be prepared in the Yizkor Book Project and the Project Coordinator will inform the donor when the translation is online and linked to the Yizkor Book Translations Index.

Estimated Cost: A single page of translation will cost $40


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Updated 14 Dec 2009 by LA