The Jews in Palestine in the Eighteenth Century: Under the Patronage of the Istanbul Committee of Officials for Palestine

By Jacob Barnai; Naomi Goldblum | Go to book overview

16
THE BUDGETS OF THE COMMUNITIES

THE BUDGET OF THE JERUSALEM COMMUNITY

The data in our possession concerning the budget of the Jerusalem community constitute a very important source of our knowledge about the economic life of the Jews in the eighteenth century. What stands out first and foremost is the drastic increase of the yearly budget of the community during the eighteenth century. This increase derived in part from the decline in the value of the currency (see table 3), but it was mainly a result of the heavy taxes that the authorities imposed on the community. To this must be added the high interest that the Jews were forced to pay on their enormous debts, which also continued to expand.1

According to sources from the beginning of the seventeenth century on, it appears that the expenses of the community were about 5,000 kurus per year.2 Until the end of the seventeenth century there was no significant increase in the budget of the Jerusalem community. From the end of the seventeenth century and the beginning of the eighteenth century, R. Raphael Mordecai Malkhi points out that the budget of the Jerusalem community was 5,000-6,000 kurus, in contrast to a budget of 10,000 kurus for the other communities in Palestine.3 He suggested that the budget of the Jerusalem community be adjusted to fit reality and that it should be raised to 8,000 kurus. For comparison he cited the yearly budget of the Christian communities in Jerusalem during this period: the Catholics--70,000 kurus; the Armenians--40,000 kurus; and the Greeks--30,000 kurus. The budgets of the Christians were also based mainly on contributions from other countries. Incidentally, the ratio between the budgets of the Christians and of the Jews supports what was written in Turkish sources about the number of Christians at the end of the seventeenth century,4 which was several times larger than the number of Jews. Nevertheless the sums that the Christians received were proportionately larger, and their economic situation was better than that of the Jews.

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