This book contains selected and annotated documents, in English translation, pertaining to the autonomy of the Jewish community in Poland and Lithuania in the 16th and 17th centuries. The scope of this autonomy, the communal and extra-communal institutions and their modes of operation are covered. Through annotated excerpts from original Hebrew source material, the author describes the structure of Jewish self-government in those countries, illuminating the social and economic problems that Jews faced in everyday life: deserted wives, loans at interest, rights of daughters in their father's estates, organization and maintenance of elementary education, and many other questions. The book includes an in-depth introduction describing the historical period, a lengthy epilogue explaining the workings of the Jewish educational system, and extensive glossaries and indexes to help find individual points of interest. There is a detailed map of Jewish population, showing how Jews were spread throughout Poland and Lithuania during this period, as well as sixteen pages of photographs of Jewish sites. The reader will savor the flavor of Jewish life in the Middle Ages, that flourished despite oppressive surroundings. The book will appeal both to the learned scholar and to the layman interested in Jewish history of the period. As noted, the documents are in English translation, and provide access to information that untill now was available only to Hebrew language speakers.