New Worlds, East and West
DOI link for New Worlds, East and West
New Worlds, East and West book
The early modern period saw the exodus of Sephardi Jews from the Iberian Peninsula eastward into the Ottoman Empire, as well as a parallel migration of Ashkenazi Jews from Central Europe to Eastern Europe, from Germany into Poland. This chapter discusses Polish-Lithuanian Jewry into the single largest Jewish community in the world by the end of the seventeenth century. A significant portion of Jews in Poland made a living as leaseholders, or arrendators, which came to be considered a traditionally “Jewish” economic activity. The Jewish arrendator often found himself in a conflict of interest with other sections of the population, including the peasants and townspeople, who might resent high prices, tolls, and taxes being collected by the leaseholder. The autobiography testifies to the often-precarious nature of the economic alliance between Jews and nobles. The semiautonomous governing body of the Jewish community, the kehillah, paralleled the Christian municipality in its structure and its functions.