From This World to the Next: Jewish Approaches to Illness, Death and the Afterlife

Charity Box

Presov, Austria-Hungary 1863
Pollak Family Collection

Originally created to fulfill a ritual need, burial societies evolved over time into increasingly complex and stratified organizations. From very early on, rules and regulations were promulgated to ensure the proper performance of the society's duties and to provide penalties for violation of those rules. Typically, the penalties were of two types: monetary fines and exclusion from the society. These punishments were levied for a wide variety of infractions, ranging from minor improprieties to serious transgressions. Aside from maintaining the members' standard of behavior and adherence to society protocol, fines played an important role in ensuring the economic integrity of the society, as did initiation fees, annual membership dues and the collection of charitable donations.