Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A scene from the Semitic room in the New York Public Library, 1925

Here's an interesting little story about the reading room in the NYPL in 1925. An impressive, scholarly looking Chassidic man is spotted, and assumed to be reading some sort of lofty mystical text. It turns out, he's reading "Fiddler on the Roof" (Tevye der Milkhiger). The broader article is discussing leisure and the importance of childish tendencies in adults.


Volozhin in the news

Here's a little blurb about some recognition of the yeshiva of Volozhin by the Russian government. Apparently this recognition meant that some students could receive stipends from the government. 1881.


A bad name for a Jew

From 1935.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Guest post: My great-grandfather's chumash and siddur with piyutim

My great-grandfather's chumash and siddur with piyutim

By David Roth, in collaboration with Gabriel Wasserman

I'm pleased to present this wonderful guest post by David Roth. I enjoyed it very much, and hope you do as well! - S.

I.        Introduction

This paper will be a description of my great-grandfather's chumash/siddur, which was printed in early twentieth-century England. The book is interesting, because it contains the full yotzer piyutim for the shabbosos of the year, and thus is evidence that the Ashkenazic Jews in England at the time were reciting these piyutim.  This practice is not well documented, so evidence of this sort is valuable. This paper should be a contribution to the study of the question of where and when piyutim were dropped in various communities in the modern period, not only in England, but in the Ashkenazic world as a whole.  The paper will also describe various features of the book, relating to the regular liturgy and to the chumash that the book contains.

I found this book in my grandparents' basement, in Potomac, MD.  My grandmother inherited it from her father, Henry Minden, who was born in Hamburg in 1890, lived in Hull, England from 1894-1904, then returned with his parents to Hamburg, where he remained until 1938.  At that point, he moved with his family to Golders Green, where he was an early member of the Golders Green Beth Hamedrash (GGBH/Munk's).  The inside cover of the bereishis volume of the chumash contains a note that it was purchased from Martin Sulzbacher.  My grandmother explained that when the family arrived in England at the end on 1938, they had virtually no seforim or other posessions, and she remembers that Mr. Sulzbacher was a used seforim dealer in the neighborhood, meaning that this chumash and siddur with piyutim was probably purchased from him around 1938 or 1939.  The book was already used, and there are remnants of an earlier name plate which seems to have been intentionally removed.

The title page of the book bears the dates 1900, and it is called "Second Edition, carefully Revised and Corrected."  However, it is impossible that the volume as a whole was printed in 1900, for the prayer for the Royal Family does not bless Queen Victoria, but rather King Edward and his family, who took reign only on January 22, 1901.  Most likely, the date 1900 reflects an earlier edition, which the printers neglected to update.[1]  It does not necessarily reflect the liturgical practices of most British Jewry in 1938, although as we shall see below, it would have been useful to my great-grandfather in GGBH.




These are the title pages in both Hebrew and English in the Vayikro volume.  Notice the Sephardic spelling of לונדון, which shows that the Ashkenazi community in London had been influenced by the Sephardic community which had been there before them.[2]

II.     Background about Ashkenzic minhogim regarding the recitation of piyutim

Since at least the 13th century, the Ashkenazic prayer rite has been split between two major minhag families – Eastern (also known as מנהג פולין)[3] and Western (also known as מנהג אשכנז (המערבי)).  While there are minor differences in nusach ha'keva (the non-piyutim, regular prayers of the year), the major differences are regarding piyutim.  The traditional Ashkenazic communities recited piyutim not only on yomim noroim and selichos, but also on many occasions throughout the year, including special shabbosos and all yomim tovim.  The main types of piyutim include yotzer piyutim (in birchos kerias shema of shacharis), kerovos (in chazoras hashatz), and maarivim (in birchos kerias shema of maariv).[4]  In ashkenaz, kerovos were recited only on 4 parishios, shabbos hagodol and yom tov, as well as special weekdays such as Purim.[5]  On the other hand, yotzer piyutim were recited on many shabbosos throughout the year.  At some point in the nineteenth century, yotzer piyutim, and to a lesser extent maarivim, began to fall out of usage in many communities.  Kerovos fared a bit better, and indeed many communities today such Mesivta Tifereth Jerusalem (MTJ) of the Lower East Side, Manhattan; the synagogues affiliated with the Jewish Educational Center (JEC) in Elizabeth, New Jersey; the Hendon Adas in London; as well as many chasidic synagogues, recite kerovos today.[6]  It must be remembered that yotzer piyutim were recited on many more occasions than kerovos, and therefore dropping yotzer piyutim means dropping piyut for most shabbosos of the year.

A prominent Western Ashkenaz kehilloh is K'hal Adath Jeshurun (KAJ) in Washington Heights, where they recite all piyutim of all genres of the printed Western Ashkenazic rite.[7]  There are a few other Western Ashkenaz communities that recite all or most piyutim, mostly in Europe.  However, to the best of my knowledge, GGBH is the only Eastern Ashkenaz synagogue in the world which I know for sure recites yotzer piyutim throughout the year.[8]  My great-grandfather davened in GGBH from 1939 until the end of his life, in 1971.

III.   About my great-grandfather's chumash

My great-grandfather's chumash/siddur is a five-volume chumash, one sefer per volume, with English translations on facing pages.  The haftoros are printed after each parsha, according to both the Ashkenazic (called "German" in English) and Sephardic (called "Portuguese" in English) customs; however, it does not contain any megillos.  The second half of the volume is a shabbos siddur, with the following title: תפלות לשבתות עם היוצרות מראשית השנה ועד אחרית השנה.[9]  The English title of this section is simply "Sabbath Service".  The main part of the siddur contains an English translation, and the entire siddur, including piyutim, include English instructions. More about that later.

Just a few notes about the nusach of the siddur itself.  Every time kaddish is printed, it is preceded by the verses ועתה יגדל נא כח ד' כאשר דברת לאמר (Numbers 14,17) and זכר רחמיך ד' וחסדיך כי מעולם המה (Psalms 25,6), with instructions to recite these verses in an undertone.[10]  Following mincho on Friday afternoon, the following instruction appears "The Reader, in the repetition of the Ameedah, finishes at בשלום, and says Kaddish."  It is clear from this instruction that Oleinu was not recited because the services of kabbolos shabbos and maariv followed immediately after minchoBa'me madlikin appears after kaddish tiskabal of maariv.  After ba'me madlikin appears an instruction to recite kiddush in shul.  After mincho of shabbos, there appears pirkei avos for the summer and borechi nafshi and shir ha'maalos (Psalms 104 and 120-134) for the winter.  None of these features is surprising, as they are all typical of old school Ashkenazic shuls, both Western and Eastern.[11]  Also, the book does not have מזמור שיר חנוכת הבית לדוד before boruch sh'omar; the minhag to recite this psalm is quite late, and it is not surprising that it does not appear here, although it is recited in GGBH, and I do not know what is done today in United Synagogue congregations.  Another interesting minhag regards shabbos mincho, "After the Torah is read, some Congregations say מזמור שיר ליום השבת till עולתה-בו, page 16, in the Evening Service."  This minhag is not so well known in America or Israel, but it appears to have been common in Eastern Ashkenaz shuls, I have seen it personally in GGBH, and I have heard that various shuls in New York, such as Ohab Zedek and Jewish Center, recite it.

In addition, the book contains some specifically British minhogim.  For example, the following instruction appears: "In most English Congregations the following Psalm and Hymns are said before ברוך שאמר."  This is referring to Shir shel Yom, Shir Ha'yichud, and Shir Ha'kovod (aanim zemiros), which are printed on the subsequent pages.[12]  Additionally, the Prayer for the Royal Family appears in the form הנותן תשועה, after yekum purkon and the mi she'beirach for the congregation; the figures named in it are "אדונינו המלך Our Sovereign Lord, King EDWARD, our Gracious Queen ALEXANDRA, GEORGE, Prince of WALES, the Princess of WALES, and all the ROYAL FAMILY, ירום הודם."[13]  According to Raphael Dascalu, the phrase "In most English Congregations … " indicates a community following the practices of the United Synagogue, and this brings us to the main point of our paper, that an apparently United Synagogue rite was reciting full piyutim throughout the year.  Any further information from readers about what community this book is associated with would be appreciated.




























The Prayer for the Royal Family

Note that GGBH, where my great-grandfather davened, and which still recites most piyutim today, is not a member of the United Synagogue.  It does not affiliate with that organization; and moreover, the founders of the GGBH community arrived in England as refugees only in the late 1930s, almost seventy years after the founding of the United Synagogue.  It is quite possible (though by no means certain) that by the late 1930s, the United Synagogue communities were no longer saying yotzer piyutim; the practices of GGBH are primarily based not on pre-existing British practice, but on the customs of Hamburg and Berlin, which the refugees had taken with them from mainland Europe.  Nonetheless, both the old United Synagogue practices and those of Hamburg and Berlin were based on the traditional Eastern Ashkenazic Rite, and therefore would have been similar.[14]

IV.  The Piyutim contained in the Chumash/Siddur

Before we talk about the piyutim proper, we should mention a few passages that are added or substituted in the nusach ha'keva when piyutim are recited in birchos kerias shema of shacharis.  The main part of the siddur contains three passages to be added or substituted in birchos kerias shema.  The first is right after the opening of the berocho of yotzer or: אור עולם באוצר חיים אורות מאופל אמר ויהי.  The second replaces the passage v'ho'ofanim v'chayos ha'kodesh: והחיות ישוררו וכרבים יפארו ושרפים ירנו ואראלים יברכו פני כל חיה ואופן וכרוב לעמת שרפים לעמתם משבחים ואומרים.  The third replaces the paragraph al ho'rishonim: על הראשונים ועל האחרונים לעולם ועד חוק ולא יעבור אמת שאתה הוא ד' א-לוהינו וא-לוהי אבותינו לעולם ועד:  אתה הוא מלכנו מלך אבותינו אתה למען שמך מהר לגאלנו כאשר גאלת את אבותינו אמת מעולם שמך הגדול עלינו נקרא באהבה אין א-לוהים זולתך.[15]  There is also a fourth passage which is added to birchos kerias shema on some days when piyutim are added, namely בגלל אבות תושיע בנים ותביא גאלה לבני בניהם, however, this siddur prints this passage at the end of the relevant piyutim and not in the body of the siddur.

The piyutim themselves – yotzros for the year, as well as kerovos for 4 parshios and shabbos hagodol – are printed after musaf, before mincho, and they appear in the same size font as the rest of the sefer.[16]  Each volume contains only those piyutim that are relevant during the time of the reading of that sefer.[17]  There is no English translation for the piyutim, which is somewhat surprising, and this must have been an annoyance to British Jews, given the difficulty in understanding piyutim; however, the book includes detailed English instructions about the exact locations in the shabbos service for each relevant piyut.  These facts, namely that the piyutim are printed before mincho, that the books contains detailed instructions of where they are recited, and that they are printed in the same size as the rest of the sefer, seem to make it fairly clear that the congregations in England around this time were actually reciting these piyutim; the editors did not simply include them for cosmetic or reference reasons.  This is interesting, because today, United Synagogue congregations barely recite piyutim at all, and certainly not Yotzer piyutim.  I would appreciate any information from readers who might know when Yotzer piyutim fell out of use in United Synagogue congregations.


Note the instructions for where in the service to recite each piyut.  Also note the Livorno typeface, which is further evidence of Sephardic influence on the Ashkenazi community.

There are a few weeks on which different Eastern Ashkenazic communities recited different piyutim for the same occasion.  In these cases, many nineteenth to twentieth century siddurim, such as Avodas Yisroel (Eastern), published by Seligman Baer, and Otzar Ha'tefilos, published by the Vilna Romm printing press, indicate both variants.  This siddur indicates only one in each case.  This is valuable evidence for what was practiced in England at the time.  These are:

Guf yotzer[18] for Shabbos Hagodol: אאמיר מסתתר (and not אתי מלבנון, the other variant).
Ofan[19] for the first Shabbos after Pesach: ארוגי עוז (and not אראלים וחשמלים, the other variant).
Ofan for the second Shabbos after Pesach: יחיד ערץ (whereas some other Eastern Ashkenazic congregations recited no ofan this week).

Note that Baer's siddur indicates ארוגי עוז as the general Eastern Ashkenazic custom (perhaps meaning the Polish lands), and אראלים וחשמלים as "Behm and Bruenn" (that is, Bohemia and Brno, the region later known as "Oberland" – Austria, Western Hungary, and Czech lands).  On the other hand, he indicates יחיד ערץ as specifically the rite of Behm and Bruenn.  GGBH recites the two ofanim as indicated in this book, however they say אתי מלבנון as the guf yotzer for shabbos hagodol.  My great-grandfather would have had trouble following on this shabbos, although perhaps he just said the "wrong" one, since anyway it would have been recited almost entirely silently.

Another feature worth noting is the inclusion of the piyutim of the genre of ahavo[20] on various shabbosos over the course of the year.  This would be unremarkable, since all printings of Eastern Ashkenazi piyutim include them; however, we must note it here, because GGBH does not recite ahavos, and it seems from their minhogim book that they never did.  It is unclear if any synagogue in the world recites these piyutim today, any information from readers would be appreciated.[21]

V.     Conclusion

In conclusion, this volume opens up a window into the practices of the British Ashkenazic synagogues of the early twentieth century.  In this paper, we have seen that the practice of reciting piyutim, which is so commonly disregarded today, was still being followed.  The book does not even contain a note that some congregations omit or some congregations recite; rather it is simply assumed that piyutim are recited.  We hope that the worshippers of the time saw the beauty of these piyutim, and that the piyutim enhanced their prayer experience.


Appendix: Unusual candle lighting times



























I'm not quite sure what's going on with these candle lighting times, which appear for a couple weeks of each year (note: this is the page in the vayikro volume, so it is not meant to contain the whole year, but I can't find any rhyme and reason even for which weeks it does or does not include).  However, see the post at http://onthemainline.blogspot.com/2009/06/what-time-is-shabbos-in-1842.html.  Also, note that all of these candle lighting times listed are only for before this sefer is printed.  Furthermore, the latest candle lighting time for the entire year is 7 o'clock, but plag ha'mincho (the earliest time to light candles for shabbos) in London gets as late as 7:39, so it appears that they were using a different time system than is currently in place.  Of course, the lack of daylight saving time could account for that discrepancy.




[1] In reality, this book could not really be the second edition, but rather a later edition, nor could it really have been printed as a whole in 1900.  According to the catalog entry at worldcat.org, there was a "second edition" of this book printed in 1867, as well as in 1893, such that the 1900 edition must be at least the fourth edition, meaning that our book, which in truth must have been printed between 1901 and 1910 (as we can see from the Prayer for the Royal Family), must be at least the fifth edition.  As another suggestion, it is possible that the printing of the book actually began in 1900, and continued passed the accession of King Edward to the throne in January 1901.  This would mean that the title page was printed before the rest of the book, which seems unlikely.  Moreover, we know that the claim on the title page that this is the second edition is inaccurate, so the possibility that there could be other inaccuracies on the title page should not be surprising.  The fact that the candle lighting times in the book (see appendix) begins with 1879 further complicates the picture of when the book was printed, as the candle lighting times have clearly been updated since the first appearance of the "Second Edition" in (at latest) 1867, but they are not up to date in our edition.
[2] See Y. Prager, "The early years of London’s Ashkenazi community" in Yerusaseinu 5 (2011), page 8, footnote 23.  The spelling I would have expected in an Ashkenazic publication such as this would be לאנדאן.
[3] See J. and A. Fraenkel, "Prayer and Piyyut in the Mahzor Nuremberg" (Hebrew) 2008, (here), pp. 6-8.  (To be published in an expanded version in English in the forthcoming volume on Machzor Nuremberg.)  Note that various communities in northern Germany, including Hamburg – where my great-grandfather was from – followed the Eastern minhag; see D. Goldschmidt, Machzor for Rosh Hashanah (Hebrew), Introduction page xiv (יד).
[4]  In Ashkenaz, maarivim were recited only on yom tov.  The book discussed here is a siddur, not a machzor, so it does not include any yom tov liturgy; therefore we will not address maarivim here.
[5] This describes the situation in Ashkenaz.  In other regions, the recitation of kerovos was not limited to these occasions.  In fact, the Cairo geniza, reflecting the prayer traditions of Eretz Yisroel of over a thousand years ago, contains kerovos for every shabbos of the year, and ever for weekdays such as Tu B'shvat.
[6] Tragically, many communities in the 20th century, probably only in the second half, have dropped kerovos for regolim, and say only 4 parshios, shabbos hagodol and yomim noroim.  The origin of the practice is unclear, but it is probably a result of not having machzorim, whereas the kerovos for 4 parshios have been printed in siddurim in recent centuries.
[7] There are a very few piyutim printed in the Western machzorim that KAJ does not say, but these exceptions are negligible.  (In all cases, these were piyutim that were already not said in Frankfurt.)
[8] I have heard rumors of synagogues in Vienna; Budapest; Sydney, Australia; Kiryat Sefer; Stamford Hill (London); and Monsey, which recite yotzer piyutim, although I have not substantiated these, and I do not know how consistently they recite them.  Any information about any of these places, or other synagogues, would be much appreciated.
[9] The word תפלה or תפלות was, and in some cases still is, used as the word for a siddur in many Ashkenazic communities.  The subtitle of the siddur מראשית השנה ועד אחרית השנה is based on Deuteronomy 11,12, although the text there reads ועד אחרית שנה, without the hey.
[10] This is true even before shemone esrei of maariv and borechu of shacharis, even though at these times there is a potential issue of hefsek.
[11] The non-recitation of Oleinu in Friday mincho has become increasingly scarce over the course of time, even GGBH today says Oleinu, apparently because of a maase sh'hoyo in the mid-twentieth century, involving a person who got extremely angry that he would not be able to recite kaddish following mincho, so he ran out of the shul and slammed the door on his fingers, severely injuring himself.  After that, R' Eli Munk, who was the Rabbi of GGBH at the time, suggested that they should start saying Oleinu in mincho in order that people should not get so upset and come to injure themselves.  I have seen the non-recitation of Oleinu myself only in KAJ Washington Heights, Shaare Hatikvah Washington Heights, Erlau in Katamon, Jerusalem, and IGB Basel.
[12]  As noted below, GGBH does not follow United Synagogue practices, rather they recite only shir ha'yichud at this point (or rather, before מזמור שיר חנכת הבית לדוד, which does not appear in our book), shir shel yom is said on shabbos and yom tov before the Torah is taken out, and shir ha'kovod is recited at the end of the services, following Oleinu.
[13] Note that this constellation of the Royal Family reflects the situation between Queen Victoria's death on January 22, 1901 and King Edward VII's death on May 6, 1910.
[14] I have heard, although I have not been able to substantiate, that the founders of GGBH wanted to follow the Eastern Ashkenazic rite as opposed to the Western, so that they would fit in with British Jewry and not stick out as German immigrants, at a time when the United Kingdom was in a state of hostility towards Germany.
[15] Note that Western Ashkenaz also substitutes a variant version of the previous paragraph, emes v'yatziv.  Although this is practiced today in KAJ and Shaare Hatikvah in Washington Heights, as well as in other Western Ashkenazic congregations, it is not relevant to England, GGBH, or this siddur, which are all Eastern Ashkenazic.
[16] No piyutim for yom tov, shabbos chol hamoed or Purim are included.  This makes sense because the first half of the book is a chumash, which one would not be using on these days, especially since it does not include megillos.  This surely does not mean that piyutim were not recited on yomim tovim; they would have been recited out of machzorim, not a siddur/chumash.
[17] Every volume begins with the piyutim for a shabbos bris and for shabbos rosh chodesh (because they can occur during the reading of any sefer of the Torah), and then continues with the piyutim relevant during the time of the reading of that sefer.  There is sometimes overlap; for example, the shemos volume has piyutim for all of 4 parshios through hachodesh, since in a non-leap year, the shabbos on which vayakehiel-pekudei is read is often hachodesh; but the vayikro volume begins again with the piyutim for hafsoko rishono, since in a leap year, the shabbos on which parshas vayikro is read sometimes the first hafsoko shabbos.
[18] A guf yotzer is the first yotzer piyyut of a sequence, recited right after אור עולם באוצר חיים.
[19] An ofan is a piyut recited after the verse קדוש קדוש קדוש in birchos kerias shema.
[20] An ahavo is a piyut recited close to the end of the berocho of ahavo rabboh.
[21] The Western Ashkenazic liturgy includes one ahavo [אותך כל היום קוינו].  It is recited twice a year, on the shabbos before shavuos and the shabbos before tisha b'av.  It is still recited today in KAJ Washington Heights, and a few other communities.  However, this is not relevant to the discussion of the Eastern rite, as that piyut is exclusively Western.

Humblerudition

This is Gotthard Deutsch replying to Lewis Dembitz in the American Hebrew, 1904.

Love the שור הבר and קדיש דרבנן stuff. Humblerudition.


Friday, July 04, 2014

The end of חושן משפט in Germany

1854.


Mussar from Reform over חוקת הגוים

Excerpt from the American Israelite, from 1857:

In the polemics over Reform, the representatives of Reform took endless delight in pointing out innovations accepted by the Orthodox in one place, but not in others. 

Bonus points because "Rhinehessia" is a pretty cool name.

Rav Gifter's youthful 'ambition' and more

Hirshel Tzig posts this fantastic find, Rabbi Mordechai Gifter's yearbook photo in the 1933 edition of the Elchanite.

The rather interesting inside joke says that his ambition is to the "Chief Rabbi of the Hitler regime."


































In the class Who's Who, he's listed as the "Class socialist," which apparently sheds light on his 1933 politics.


































Here's a very interesting account by R. Gifter's son about his father's transition to MTA from a Baltimore public high school, and success once there, link:
“My father told me that he knew only one blatt of Gemorah when he went to New York to be tested for admission,” Reb Binyamin Gifter related. “However, he progressed so quickly that he was soon attending the shiurim of HaRav Moshe HaLevi Soloveitchik.” 
The YU yearbooks on archive.org are fascinating. For example, here we see that Rabbi Robert Gordis' nickname in high school was "Bob the Gob" (Elchanite 1923):


































The same volume used the frontispiece for the Vilna Shas printed by the Romm company for its title page:


































These volumes can be pored over for many, many interesting historical and sociological finds, and are well worth perusing. Here's one last item, an excerpt from the 1925 Elchanite, Dr. Pinchas Churgin, Principal of the Teacher's Institute of the Yeshivah (later president of Bar Ilan) gives a Hebraist angle to the value of yeshivas in the modern revival of the Hebrew language:


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

World War I humor for German troops at the front

This is one of the craziest things I've ever seen, and that's saying a lot. This is from a German magazine provided to troops for relaxation and entertainment during WWI. Dated June 19, 1915, this is from the Humor column, of Die Wacht im Osten

And the little anecdote is, a very pious Jewish guy goes to the Wonder-rabbi of Sadagora and asks him who is going to win the war. The rabbi replies, God - Gott. "Gott," asks the man. "Explain it to me?" The rabbi replies, yes, Gott - it stands for G/ermanen O/sterreicher and T/uerkishchen T/rupen.


Before Jenny McCarthy

This was printed on December 19, 1896 in the Daily Mail.










For more info about the reception of vaccines among Jews, see Ruderman, David B. "Some Jewish Responses to Smallpox Prevention in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries: A New Perspective on the Modernization of European Jewry." Aleph (2002): 111-144.

Cholent nostalgia, 1929


Sunday, June 01, 2014

Vintage Agudath Israel

Regardless of your politics or religious affiliation, I think you'll agree, that this is the funniest subheadline, maybe, ever. 

Because it's from 1914.

Feb. 13, 1914, the Jewish Advocate.




An affair that made a great noise in Amsterdam

This is 1762, and what happened was, a bunch of Jews beat up a Calvinist apostate Jew in Amsterdam. As it happens, he was a sailor, and his fellow sailors went ashore to beat up the Jews who beat up the sailor. However, they were outnumbered, and were beaten up by even more Jews.  

From The London Chronicle, Or, Universal Evening Post.


Thursday, May 08, 2014

Better in the company of Shadal...

Here's a rather interesting little postscript to an 1860* letter from Jonas Bondi to Isaac Leeser:








It says, "In Jeschurun I am in the company of Luzzatto, better than Szold, Wise and Illoway."

This refers to the Jeschurun published by Joseph Kobak, not Samson Raphael Hirsch (of whom Bondi was a critic). And he is talking smack about some famous names among the American rabbis of his day - one of whom - Wise - would become his son-in-law! Apparently he liked the company in Jeschurun, but not the American Jewish publications of the day.

* Not 1865, as in the transcription here.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

An English letter from Rabbi Esriel Hildesheimer from 1865

This is an interesting piece that I found on the Isaac Leeser digital archive (link), a handwritten letter from Rabbi Esriel Hildesheimer to the Occident, dated 26 Adar 5625. The letter asks Leeser to print an English version of an account on behalf of the "Central Committee for Building Dwellings for the Poor and Pilgrims in Jerusalem," of which Rabbi Hildesheimer was a member, along with Rabbis Jacob Ettlinger of Altona and Joseph Hirsch of Halberstadt.

Here are two excerpts from the piece, as printed in the Occident, at Rabbi Hildesheimer's request:




















Below is the transcription from the site, with some corrections of my own. (If you can make corrections to make the poor English-or should I say, Englisch-in the final line intelligible, here is the link, to the letter.) 

I don't know for sure if this is Rabbi Hildesheimer's own English, but I'd say - chances are.

***
ב"ה
To the rev. editor of the Occident
Philadelphia 

Eisenstadt 26 Adar 5625. 
Since the great interest which you have always shown for the 
wellfare (sic) of our brethren in all countries and particularly the unfor- 
tunate Jews of the Holy Land is known to me I have the liberty to 
send you the enclosed statutes etc of the dwellings which we are arecting (sic) on the holy ground and pray you to give insertion to it in your esteemed 
journal in at possible great parties. 
I have the honour to sign 
your humble
Dr. Hildesheimer
Rabbi


Monday, May 05, 2014

The only english Jew that ever wore his Beard

Here is a postscript from an 1853 letter from Samuel Hyman Cohen to Isaac Leeser. Writing from California, Cohen tells Leeser which family he is from, that he is the nephew of "Moses Eliezer Solomons 'ר משה עליעזר זלמן" [sic] "of London and the only english Jew that ever wore his Beard."

"Moses Eliezer Solomons" appears to be the father of Henry Naphthali Solomon (1796-1881), a pioneer in Jewish education in England - and the first cousin of this Samuel Hyman Cohen. The rest of the letter is fascinating, as he had spent several years in China, and tells Leeser about his contact with a Chinese Jew. At first the Jew did not believe he was Jewish, because he did not know שחיטה! But:
"I was verry (sic) ancious (sic) to obtain from him Information respecting the Jews and after showing him my מחזורים מזוזת ערבה כנפוס תפלין and explaining them to him, he said that he was satisfied that I was a Jew, he give me a Invitation to come out to see him..." 
Read the entire letter here.





















Thursday, May 01, 2014

An ardent admirer of Jewish physiognomy

This guy *really* likes how Chasidim/ traditional east European Jewish men looked.

Adam Neale, writing in 1818, in his Travels through some parts of Germany, Poland, Moldavia, and Turkey.


Monday, April 28, 2014

A Messianic prophecy for 1840-1, Pt. II

Here's an update to this post, about a 17th century Messianic prophecy for the year 1840-1, apparently predicting the French Revolution, some kind of Russian revolution, Jewish independence, and then the Messiah. This is a copy of the document discussed in that post, copied for some reason, by Isaac Leeser's. See here. Leeser must have had hopes for the year 5601.


This is interesting; an entry for Brian Walton's 1653 - 56 London Polyglot Bible in Kohelet Shlomo - Collectio Davidis, the catalog of Rabbi David Oppenheim's famous library. Interesting, because it includes the New Testament, and the catalog says it was the complete six volumes.


Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Passover products circa 1842

Here's a nice ad for Passover products from 1842, under the rabbinic supervision of Rabbi Solomon Hirschell (1862-1842). From the Voice of Jacob.

British wine!


Sunday, February 23, 2014

"Adam and Abraham, not "Odam and Afroom" - on an 18th century attempt to prove the correct Hebrew pronunciation tradition


This is really cool. This is a leaf from a manuscript called Sukkat David. It's a notebook of David Franco Mendes, 18th century Hebrew writer and poet of Amsterdam. He is best known (to me, anyway) for being a close friend and disciple of Rabbi Moshe Haim Luzzatto when the latter lived in Amsterdam, and also for being one of the original Meassefim, a contributor to the first periodical of the Berlin Haskalah, where he contributed poems and biographical articles about gedolei yisrael.

This excerpt is from an essay where he is trying to prove that the correct pronunciation of the קמץ is that of the Sephardim (A) and not the Ashkenazim. He offers several proofs, one of which is the way names like Adam and Abraham are transliterated in Greek letters in Josephus, which he points out, is from the last days of the Temple. Being this old, this is a proof that the A pronunciation is correct, while the pronunciation of the Ashkenazim as - wait for it - Odam and Afroom is not.





Check out the other proofs. It's on page 29.

I learned of this page in Berger, Shlomo. "Remus, Romulus and Sephardic Jews in Amsterdam." Studia Rosenthaliana (1992): 38-45, but finally the manuscript has actually been digitized by the amazing Ets Haim Library. Much valuable material can be gleaned from this manuscript and the wealth of others on this site.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

On Solomon Dubno's library

The Freimann-Sammlung digital library at the University of Frankfurt recently added some fantastic bibliographies, including this important one - the catalog that was prepared for the 1814 auction of Solomon Dubno's library (link).

For those who want to make inferences about contents of libraries, his includes Hameasseph, in case anyone is wondering (p. 46, 57.)

Here is the title page.


Can you help me? (No $!)

Reader request: 

If you go to Columbia University, or Harvard or Yale and you are a fan of this blog (sounds so swell-headed, but what can I say?) it is possible you could give me a hand in supporting scholarship. So if this is you, please email me ( db min9@aol .com ) and I will tell you how you can help, ask for it, and you can decide if you'd like to do so. No pressure before, during, or after. Responses themselves are highly appreciated.

Many thanks!

Yours,
S.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails
'