Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World

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The Hebrew term parnas (pl. parnasim), which first appears in rabbinic sources (BT Sanhedrin 82a), denotes leadership status. In medieval Europe, the parnas was the head of the community, elected for a fixed period that, depending on locality, could be as brief as a month or as much as several years. In the eastern Mediterranean and the Arab world, the parnasim were lay leaders of the community who functioned alongside the rabbis. Their position was therefore similar in many ways to that of “the seven good men of the city” (shivʿa ṭove ha-ʿir) in the Talmud (BT Megilla 26a–27a). Parnasim are …

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Yaron Ayalon, “Parnasim”, in: Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World, Executive Editor Norman A. Stillman. Consulted online on 07 December 2022 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1878-9781_ejiw_SIM_000738>
First published online: 2014

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