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Bidding Information
Lot #    16916
Auction End Date    1/23/2007 11:23:13 AM (mm/dd/yyyy)
Title Information
Title (English)    Takkanot of the Ashkenazic Community of Amsterdam
Title (Hebrew)   
Author    [Community] Burgemeister and Registrar
City    Amsterdam
Publisher    Joseph, Jacob, and Abraham Proophs
Publication Date    1747,59,68
Collection Information
Independent Item    This listing is an independent item not part of any collection
Description Information
   Only editions. 4, [2; 4] ff., octavo, 155:100 mm., wide margins, light age staining. Very good copies bound in contemporary vellum wrappers.
   Enactments of the Ashkenaz community for the years 1747, 1759, and 1768. The takkanot for the two later years reference 1747 on the title page. The final pages of 1759 and 1768 have the elaborate form of the Proophs printers device, the Kohens spread hands within an elaborate wreath with a crown at top. The text is made up of Hebrew in square letters with accompanying Yiddish in cursive letters.

The first Ashkenazi settlers in Amsterdam arrived in the 1620s. At first they depended socially and economically on the Sephardic community, but were in the same position as to legal status. In 1636 they began to hold their own services and appointed as their rabbi Moses b. Jacob Weile of Prague. Their first synagogue was acquired in 1640. The number of Ashkenazi Jews rapidly increased and soon exceeded the Sephardic community. Jews from Poland found their way to Amsterdam after the Chmielnicki massacres in 164849, and after the Swedish invasion in 1655. The Polish Jews founded their own congregation in 1660, which maintained ties with the Council of the Four Lands. In 1673, after lengthy negotiations and intervention by the municipal authorities, they were finally forced to join the main Ashkenazi body, then numbering 7,500 members. In 1671 a large and luxurious synagogue was built, and to meet the needs of the growing population, additional Ashkenazi synagogues were built in 1686, 1700, and 1730. Prominent Ashkenazi rabbis included David b. Aryeh Leib of Lida (appointed 1680), Eleazar b. Samuel of Brody (appointed 1735), and Zevi Hirsch b. Jacob Ashkenazi ("Hakham Zevi"), appointed in 1710 but forced to resign later. However, down to 1815 a number of his descendants were Ashkenazi chief rabbis of Amsterdam (his son-in-law Aryeh Leib Loewenstamm, (174055), his grandson Saul Loewenstamm (175590), and Saul's son Moses (17901815)).

At first the Ashkenazi Jews were in poor economic circumstances, and some became peddlers and old clothes dealers. In the 17th century many opened shops when it was found that the municipality did not insist on its prohibition against opening new ones. Only a few Ashkenazi Jews achieved some wealth. Later, the Ashkenazi Jews developed trade with Eastern Europe and Germany. Many became foreign exchange brokers, forming about 50% of that profession. Until the end of the 18th century, several Ashkenazi Jews were closely associated with the court Jews of Germany, and served as agents in procuring loans for the German states from Dutch banks on comparatively cheap terms. Others acted as diamond brokers for foreign courts. The situation of the Ashkenazi community improved during the 18th century, though suffering from the economic crisis that affected Holland at the end of the period. By then the Ashkenazim numbered 18,200. Living conditions in the Jewish quarter were unbearably crowded: five or six families often lived in one apartment, with 1012 persons in one room. In 1799, 87% of the Ashkenazi Jews lived on relief. A large Jewish proletariat was thus created, entirely dependent upon the small number of wealthier Jews who were elected parnasim. The cultural activity of the Ashkenazi Jews followed traditional Ashkenazi patterns of religious learning. Of special interest were publications in Yiddish, including a newspaper, the first in Yiddish that appeared twice weekly, the Dienstagische und Freitagishe Kurant (168687), and translations of the Bible into Yiddish by Jekuthiel b. Isaac Blitz (167679), Joseph Witzenhausen (1678), H. de Lemon (Hertz Levi Rofe; 1755, republished 1793). In 1740 an Ashkenazi yeshivah was founded in Amsterdam, but most of the rabbis appointed were from abroad. Both the Sephardi and Ashkenazi Jews of Amsterdam maintained close relations with the communities of Hamburg and London, which were in some measure branches of the Amsterdam community.

The Proophs were a distinguished family of Hebrew printers, publishers, and booksellers in Amsterdam. Solomon ben Joseph (d. 1734), whose father may have been a Hebrew printer as well, was established as a bookseller in Amsterdam and associated with other printers from 1697 to 1703. In 1704 he set up his own Hebrew press, which produced mainly liturgical books but also a wider range of works in halakhah, agadah, Kabbalah, ethics, and history. In 1714 Proophs began to print a Talmud edition in competition with that planned by Samuel b. Solomon Marches and Raphael b. Joshua de Palasios, but was forced by them to discontinue in view of their prior rabbinic monopoly. From 1715 productions by Proophs carried advertisements of books he had published, and in 1730 he issued a sales catalog (Appiryon Shelomo), the first such Hebrew publication. At his death, appointed guardians continued to operate the press, and even when his sons Joseph (d. 1786), Jacob (d. 1779), and Abraham (d. 1792) took over, they traded under the old name until 1751. Between 1752 and 1765 the sons - now under their own name - printed a Talmud edition with interruptions, which were due in part to attempts to print a Talmud in Sulzbach, against which they successfully asserted their own rabbinical monopoly. In 1761 they bought the typographical material of the Athias press, but business declined. In 1785 Joseph Proophs sold most of his work to Kurzbeck of Vienna, and when he died a year later his widow and sons - for some time in partnership with Abraham Prins - continued printing on a small scale until 1812. From 1774 to his death Jacob Proophs worked on his own; his widow and sons continued along until 1793 and until 1797 in partnership with Solomon (d. 1833), son of Abraham Proophs; Solomon worked alone until 1827. Abraham Proophs had been active on his own in 177679; afterward he removed his business to Offenbach, but his son, who worked with him, returned to Amsterdam at his father's death. David, a son of Jacob Proophs, printed from 1810 to 1849 in partnership with H. van Emde and his widow, when the press was sold to Levisson who continued it until 1869; the Levisson brothers remained active until 1917.

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Listing Classification
18th Century:    Checked
Holland:    Checked
Customs:    Checked
History:    Checked
First Editions:    Checked
Language:    Hebrew, Judeo-German
Manuscript Type
Kind of Judaica