I'm reading a book called "Publications of The American Jewish Historical Society, no. 21" (which can be found for free on archive.com). The first part is a collection of records of Congregation Shearith Israel in NY from the years 1728-1760. In it, it's mentioned that different members filled different functions in the running of the shul - there was a chazan, parnasim, chatanim (Beresheet and Torah), and so forth. Then there's a group of people called "the Yechidim" (referred to as "the Yechidimz" in 18th-century Hebrew-to-English transliteration) who would assemble from time to time. Does anyone know what role these people filled in a congregation?

  • I will have to look into the historical context as it is applied to the colonies in what would become the United States. But if they used this nomenclature in the same way that it was used traditionally, it would be referring to the “Yechidei Segulah” which is an expression connected with unique individuals within the community who are righteous and who hold themselves to a higher and distinct level of conduct from general Jewish practice. – Yaacov Deane Dec 12 '20 at 22:53
  • Taanis 1:4 and 1:7 maybe? – Heshy Dec 12 '20 at 23:13
  • @Heshy Well, anything is possible, I guess, but it doesn't say that they would assemble for fasting. From the little bit of context, it seems like sort of administrative position, but I'm unclear about what exactly they were in charge of. – Harel13 Dec 13 '20 at 12:01

(Note to proofreaders: the typos in the quoted text are all in the original old English document.)

On page 268, in the glossary, they define Yechidimz as the double plural for Yechidim or Yechedim, Yechidim being defined as H. Members of the congregation.

From page 46 you see that these Yechidimz had voting rights in the congregation.

the Parnaz and assistants shall not discharge any of said officers out of their place without first callg all the Yechidimz for to Give their vote and the major part shall carry it the Parnaz haveing two Votes.

On page 45 you see that part of the job of the Shamaz (sic) was to ensure these people were called to shul at the correct time.:

4thly That Valentin Campanall Shamaz shall be oblidged to atend at the Sinagog and shall call the Yechidimz that they may assemble togeathere at the usuall hours

So Yechidimz seems to be what we call the paying members of the congregation, as can be seen from page 14:

On the 15th of Sivan [June 19, 1731], the President Daniel Gomez having called a meeting of all the Yechidim of the Kahal Kados, it was unanimously resolved, that owing to the failure of the Samas Valentin Campanal to comply with his duties under the pretext that his salary was too small, to pass a resolution by the Parnas and all the other Yechidim to increase his salary from £15 to £18 per annum, with the understanding that, in accordance with his contract, if he fails to comply with his duties, as he ought to, he will be fined Five Shillings each time.

And again on page 216 we see that members were called Yechedim:

In the early period of the Congregation it was the duty of the Shamas to call the Yechedim together at the usual hours, also to Selichot in the morning before daylight, and to Call at their houses on friday afternoon and areb Yomtob: the members in those days attended the Synagogue regularly morning & evening: nothing but sickness prevented them, the floor was stone, and no fire therein.

  • Thank you. You're a better reader than I am. :) Any idea why they would be called Yechidim? – Harel13 Dec 20 '20 at 8:53
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    @Harel13, based on the (low) level of English, I suspect it was for lack of adequate English skills. (Just guessing). As you see from my last edit, by page 216 they were renamed to members. – Danny Schoemann Dec 20 '20 at 9:00
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    @Harel13 - not reading skills - just use of the Search function. ;-) – Danny Schoemann Dec 20 '20 at 9:00
  • Admittedly, though, I only found the better, freer copy of the publication this morning. I posted the link here, but hadn't had a chance to examine it myself. – Harel13 Dec 20 '20 at 9:08

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