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Poverty and Welfare Among the Portuguese Jews in Early Modern Amsterdam$
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Tirtsah Levie-Bernfeld

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9781904113577

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781904113577.001.0001

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The Organization of Welfare

The Organization of Welfare

(p.77) Chapter Four The Organization of Welfare
Poverty and Welfare Among the Portuguese Jews in Early Modern Amsterdam

Tirtsah Levie Bernfeld

Liverpool University Press

This chapter examines the organization of poor relief along both centrally controlled and private lines and identifies what cultural patterns were reflected in the structure of Portuguese welfare provision. Centralization of poor relief, a fairly new phenomenon in early modern Europe, helped to co-ordinate the various charitable activities, optimizing the care of the poor and keeping it under control. The Amsterdam Portuguese Jews, being integrated European citizens, were aware of these ideas and tried to adapt them to their own environment. They were also influenced by spiritual and religious currents in Jewish thinking. They banded together in societies that, in addition to studying, tried to atone and repent for sins with charitable work. Ultimately, they evinced a highly developed notion of expiation that not only sprang from tendencies within Judaism but also reflected the Catholic background of the former New Christians.

Keywords:   poor relief, Portuguese welfare provision, charitable activities, Amsterdam Portuguese Jews, Jewish thinking, atonement, charitable work, Judaism, New Christians

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