MA'AMAD or MAHAMAD, council of elders in a Sephardi community or congregation in the West after the expulsion from Spain, corresponding to the *kahal (in the sense of the supreme community council) in Ashkenazi communities. Schooled by bitter memories of the crisis in Spain on the eve of the expulsion, the policy of the ma'amad tended to be conservative and authoritarian in the extreme. One of the characteristic features of ma'amad policy was that on completion of its term of office the ma'amad itself appointed its successors. A nominee was obliged to accept the assignment. Those who disobeyed the directives of the ma'amad were fined heavily, and in some cases were even excommunicated.
Baron, Community, 2 (1942), 52.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.