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Families, Rabbis and EducationEssays on Traditional Jewish Society in Eastern Europe$
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Shaul Stampfer

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9781874774853

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781874774853.001.0001

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The Pushke and its Development

The Pushke and its Development

(p.102) Five The Pushke and its Development
Families, Rabbis and Education

Shaul Stampfer

Liverpool University Press

This chapter details how charity is collected by Jewish communities. Traditional east European Jewish communities collected money in a number of ways; taxation was only one of the standard means. Communities had to make sure that payments required by the government were met and that communal facilities, such as synagogues, were kept in good condition. However, the needs of individuals were regarded as a very different matter and they were usually dealt with by voluntary, charitable activities. Donations had to be collected by charitable organizations which could not resort to coercion. One of the most popular methods employed by Jewish charities in recent generations was the pushke (‘charity box’ in Yiddish) which was found in many Jewish homes. While it may appear traditional, this was an innovation of the nineteenth century which spread quickly throughout all of eastern Europe. A careful look at the complicated dynamics behind the simple pushke reveals a great deal about the structure and values of east European Jewish society.

Keywords:   Jewish communities, east European Jews, donations, Jewish charities, pushke, charity box, east European Jewish society, charitable organizations, charitable activities

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