This may be the only pinkas on a postcard in the entire world! I was startled to find it at the gift shop at the Museum at Eldridge Street, a restored synagogue on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
Ledger, Congregation Kahal Adath Jeshurun: This colorfully decorated ledger kept the minutes for the Eldridge Street Synagogue’s weekly congregational study group. The ledger is inscribed by Morris Groob, the congregation’s long-time secretary. The Eldridge Street Synagogue is the first great house of worship built by Eastern European Jews on New York’s Lower East Side (1887).(The reverse of the postcard)
This weekly study group, founded at the synagogue’s height in 1922, focused on the Mishnah and Ein Ya’akov. (The latter is a sixteenth century compilation of aggadah, which was translated into English the year before the group formed…)
The pinkas begins with a colorful title page with the standard pillars, followed by a page with the group’s takanot.
- Every member who belongs to the study group must pay 10 cents a week.
- Every member must recite psalms.
- After the learning, members must say memorial prayers for the dead.
- When a member is sick he must notify the group and a committee will be sent to care for the member.
The remainder of the pages contain the names of the group’s members, starting with its three gabbaim. There are no additional dates in the book to determine how long the group remained active.
The Congregation flourished until immigration laws changed in 1924. The Great Depression and subsequent suburban flight sent the congregation into decline. The congregation’s building was almost lost to neglect, but was meticulously restored from 1986-2007 and is now home to the Museum at Eldridge Street, which hosts a variety of programming, including tours, exhibits, performances, and classes. A small group occasionally worships there, too.