Takkanot (Regulations)

The Portuguese Jewish Community of Tunis


Considering the great harm and dangers that have befallen the religious communities of Israel on account of overdressing both by women and by young men, we, the undersigned honorable parnasim [community leaders] and worshipers of this holy Portuguese community, have convened and renewed the ancient askamot [ordinances] which our community must observe. Furthermore, we pledge to enforce these rules of conduct upon the rest of the community, just as our forefathers did. The aforementioned askamot are as follows:

  1. Nobody may play the game of Primera en Embite.1
  2. Nobody may open a letter that does not belong to them, unless they have received permission from its owner, or have received orders from the owner to open said letter.
  3. No man or woman or bride, or youth aged thirteen or above, may wear silver buttons or golden stripes on their cloak or on their cape.
  4. No one may wear clothes from their trousseau in public or give in the said trousseau more than one shirt with gold embellishments, and said shirt must not cost more than twenty-five pieces.
  5. No woman may leave her house wearing a shirt with silver or gold embellishments, except for the bride during her first year of marriage. In addition, they may not go out wearing a pair of trousers embellished with gold thread. This second rule also applies to the bride.
  6. No woman may wear a senifida in public, nor a scarf with gold embellishments. This rule also applies to brides: they may wear a quesfahli2 costing six or seven pieces at most.
  7. No woman may wear items embellished with jewels outside the house, except an adornment on her head with a single jewel. She may wear a single pair of earrings, but only if the jewels are attached to chains. She may wear a single jewel on her chest, and one pair of bracelets, two rings, and her wedding ring. The only exception to this rule is the bride during her first year of marriage. During this time, the bride may dress as she pleases in public.
  8. No woman may leave her house wearing any item of clothing embellished with brocade, except for the bride, nor clothes with gold or silver embellishments at the tips, nor embroidered shoes or slippers, except for the bride during her first year of marriage.
  9. No one may hire a violin band to perform in their home on festivals and holidays, nor during working days.
  10. No woman may frequent the house of a Muslim to dance exorcism dances.
  11. Nobody may use deception or force against the holy congregation or the parnasim or against any Jew, neither for not paying the dezia [jizya] poll tax [on non-Muslims], nor for any other reason. Whoever violates this law in order to cause harm to any of the aforementioned community members or parnasim will be punished with excommunication as well as any additional punishment the aforementioned gentlemen see fit. Said punishment will be in accordance with the magnitude of the crime and offence committed against the community members.
  12. The bridegroom may only be allowed into the bride’s house a few days before the nuptial blessing.
  13. A record must be kept of everything in the trousseau, and no item that has not been recorded may be given to the bride. In addition, the presence of two women arbiters is required at the time the trousseau is given, as well as that of a parnas.
  14. The bride may not send any sort of present to the bridegroom until the entry into the synagogue upon the wedding day. The bridegroom may give his bride a gift before the wedding day if he desires, but he must do so without expecting or demanding a gift from his bride in return.
  15. No one may allow into their home anybody who is in mourning or, alas, a dead body, God forbid.
  16. No one may send cooked dishes as presents on the night of the wedding, nor on the Sabbath following said wedding.
  17. No one may give more than one gift to the bridegroom on his wedding day, either upon entry into the synagogue or before the nuptial blessing.
  18. No one may give his daughter a gift valued at more than ten pieces, unless one had already done so before this document was put together.
  19. Nobody may make a velvet caftan from scratch. Similarly, nobody may purchase such a caftan, whether new or used.

We declare that all of the nineteen articles disclosed above have been approved unanimously by all of the yehidim [full members] of this holy community. Moreover, we declare that none of the above articles may be revoked. If any individual should fail to abide by these rules, he or she will be punished with excommunication, and this punishment will not be lifted until said individual has paid the amount specified by the parnasim. Confirming our disposition to abide by all of the above-mentioned regulations, and on behalf of all members of this holy congregation, we sign by our hands. May the Holy One prosper all Israel and bring us redemption. Amen.

Translated by


[Embit is a pledge added to the ante in a game. In this game, one challenges another to do something, similar to “Truth or Dare.”—Trans.]

[Meanings of senifida and quesfahli are unclear.—Trans.]


The Portuguese Jewish Community of Tunis, “Takkanot (Regulations)” (manuscript, Tunis, 1726). Published as: Itshaq Avrahami, Pinkas ha-kehilah ha-Yehudit ha-Portugezit be-Tunis: 1710–1944 (Lod: Orot Yahadut ha-Magreb, 1997), pp. 22–27.

Published in: The Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization, vol. 5.

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