Translations to Hebrew

Translation and Publication of Historical Sources into Hebrew

The Center for Research on Dutch Jewry is in the process of preparing for publication a series of volumes featuring sources of central importance to the history of Dutch Jewry from its beginnings at the start of the 17th century.

In addition to their historical value, the various works and texts under discussion have great cultural value, and it is appropriate that they be made known to the public at large and take their place as part of the cultural canon of Jewish society in Israel.

The publication of these texts in Hebrew translation (or in new editions of long-out-of-print 17th and 18th century Hebrew texts) will facilitate their study in universities in Israel and make them generally available to interested readers.

The following are among the works and sources to be published in the coming years in the framework of this project:

  1. The Autobiography of Uriel da Costa (Exemplar Humanae Vitae). Uriel da Costa wrote this work in Latin in 1640, a short time before putting an end to his life. In this composition, Da Costa, who was twice placed under herem (excommunication) by the community in Amsterdam owing to his heterodox views, relates the story of his life, from his days as a converso in Portugal through his conflicts with the Jewish establishment in Holland, which followed his expression of reservations regarding Talmudic Judaism and denial of the principle of immortality of the soul.
  2. Rabbi Moses Hagiz, Sefat Emeth (Amsterdam, 1707). In this work, R. Moses Hagiz, a rabbi who arrived in Amsterdam from Palestine in order to collect funds for a yeshiva in Jerusalem, recorded his biting criticism of Sephardi Judaism in Amsterdam, which, in his opinion, had been distanced from authentic Judaism by its great wealth. Principally, Hagiz disputed the opinion, expressed among Amsterdam's Jews, that the Land of Israel had lost its religious centrality and that there was, therefore, no obligation to contribute funds for Jews living in Jerusalem.
  3. Menasseh ben Israel, The Humble Addresses. This work is the plea that the Sephardi Rabbi Menasseh ben Israel submitted to Oliver Cromwell in 1655, when he sought to convince him of the desirability of allowing Jews to settle in England. The Humble Addresses, which was written in English, is among the most important apologetic works written by Jews in the early modern period.
  4. Isaac de Pinto, The History of the De Pinto Family. This work is a family chronicle, in Portuguese, which describes the history of one of the wealthiest Sephardi families in Amsterdam, from the time of its members' conversion to Christianity on the Iberian Peninsula at the end of the 15th century through their descendants' return to Judaism in Amsterdam in the middle of the 17th century.
  5. The Hascamot (Regulations) of the Ashkenazi Community in Amsterdam. This volume includes the regulations and ordinances issued by the Ashkenazi community in Amsterdam in the early 18th century. These Hascamot shed light on the religious, social, and cultural character of this community, which became one of the most important centers of the Western Ashkenazi world.
  6. Isaac de Pinto, Reflexôes Politicas. This work, written in Portuguese by the Sephardi philosopher and economist Isaac de Pinto in the mid-18th century, is one of the first political-economic treatises written by a Jew. This outstanding essay, dealing with the precarious social situation of the Portuguese Jews of Amsterdam after the economic crisis of the early 18th century, is of great importance to our understanding of the policies of the Portuguese community in developing the Jewish settlement in Surinam.
  7. Chronicles on the Origins of the Jewish Community in Amsterdam. This volume includes several chronicles written in the 17th and 18th centuries that describe the beginnings of the Jewish community in Amsterdam. Among the authors are Daniel Levi de Barrios, Moses son of Uri Halevi, and David Franco Mendes.
  8. Anthology of Travelers' Writings on the Jewish Communities in Holland. This collection includes selections from the diaries and travel journals of Christians who visited Holland during the 17th and 18th centuries and recorded their impressions of encounters with the Jews of Holland, and particularly with the Sephardim in Amsterdam.
  9. The Chronicle of Abraham Hayim Braatbard (1740-1752). This unique chronicle, which recounts episodes from the history of the Jews in Amsterdam and illustrates their everyday life in the middle of the 18th century, is one of the most important literary works written in Yiddish in The Netherlands.
  10. Mosseh Periera da Paiva, Notisias dos Judeos de Cochin. This work, printed in Amsterdam in 1685 by a member of the local Sephardi community, offers a fascinating description of the history of the Jewish community in Cochin, India, and constitutes a unique source for the study of the history of the Jews in the Far East.