We are very grateful to Henry Roche for his donation of the following data and his full description of them:
MPS (Midrash Phineas Subscribers) – INTRODUCTION by Henry Roche
This remarkable list of Midrash Phineas Subscribers has for many years received occasional mention in Jewish genealogical writings in connexion with research into individual names, but it does not appear to have been transcribed in full until now. The Midrash Phineas is a book of sermons by Phineas (or Pinchas) ben Samuel, published in London in 5595 (1794–5), printed entirely in Hebrew, beginning with a five-page list of more than 250 Subscribers’ names, finely printed in double columns.
The great value of this list lies not only in its early date and substantial length, but also in the presentation of the names in alphabetical order of first letter under the heading of each synagogue. Thus nos.1–129 are men affiliated to the Great Synagogue, nos.130–209 the New Synagogue, nos.210–221 the Sephardi congregation of Bevis Marks, nos. 238–266 the Hambro Synagogue and nos. 267–272 the Portsmouth Synagogue. Names 222–237 are given in a short section in Rashi script apparently referring to a charitable society, and comprise mainly names found also in other sections of the list. The numbering used here has been created for the purpose of this transcription, with each number including the subscriber’s synagogue in abbreviated form (GS, NS etc.).
The list is also notable for the addition of the abbreviations itz-u and z-l (or ztz-l) after several of the patronymics, thus indicating whether the father is alive or deceased at the time of publication (itzu meaning roughly “may his life be preserved”, and z-l or ztz-l “may his memory be blessed” (i.e. “the late”). In this context, although the year of publication was 5595 (1794-5), some of the names might perhaps relate to a slightly earlier date, if subscriptions were accepted a year or two in advance. Notably, the two named Parnassim or Wardens of Portsmouth Synagogue, the brothers Jacob and Elias Levi, in fact held office in the years 5554–5555 and 5552–5553 respectively, and not at the same time.
Particular abbreviations used in MPS are:
GS / HS / NS = Great / Hambro / New Synagogue; BM = Bevis Marks Synagogue.
Hebrew abbreviations: Hq / Hqtn = The humble (a standard form of self-reference); C = The honourable (equivalent to Mr.); H = HaHaver (the learned); Ch = The honourable and learned. R = Reb (a rather more distinguished equivalent to “Mr”), and RR is a more religiously learned version indicating “Rabbi” or perhaps “teacher”. Chr-r = a fine combination of the above. S-t = May his end be good (a standard tag for Sephardi names); b = ben (son of); m- = from. In this list, (R) in brackets indicates that the patronymic is preceded by “bar” rather than “ben”, bar being a standard abbreviation for “ben Reb”.
In general, R = Roth; and H = Hyamson.
The English abbreviation “NS” added by Hyamson to some entries from #367 onwards is at present of unknown meaning. It is certainly not “New Synagogue” but it might perhaps stand for Not Subscribed?
TJHSE = Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England (or its “Miscellanies” volumes).
FAJF = First American Jewish Families by Rabbi Malcolm Stern.
GS = Great Synagogue; Roth Gt Syn = Roth’s History of the Great Synagogue.
Admon = Administration in Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC) probate records.
dr = daughter; f-i-l + father-in-law; s-i-l = son-in-law.
b = born; bur.= burial or buried; m = married.
In Hebrew names, R = Reb (an honorific roughly equivalent to “Mr”), with RR a more religiously learned version; b = ben (son of); m- means “from”; z-l = “may his memory be blessed” (i.e. “the late”).
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