Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Of Interest at AJS

This is not an exhaustive list but a list of what caught my eye as relevant to the study of the history of books, other material texts, and new media. If I left out anything, please include in the comments.

1.4 (Sunday 9:30-11)
Jews in (Cyber)Space: Sephardic Virtual Communities and Their Survival
Kenya Dworkin y Mendez (Carnegie Mellon University)

4.6 (Sunday 4:15-6:15)
Was There a Canon of Bible Commentaries in Early Modern Italian Jewish Culture?
Adam B. Shear (University of Pittsburgh)

5.1 (Monday 8:30-10:30)
A Redeeming Context: Hasidic Piety and East European Jewish Book Culture
Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern (Northwestern University)

6.1 (Monday 10:30-12) Poster Session
Ashkenazi Minhagim Literature in the Century before the Black Plague
Rachel Zohn Mincer (Jewish Th eological Seminary)

7.4 (Monday 11-12:45)
Fatimid Manuscripts in Hebrew and Arabic
Vivian B. Mann (Jewish Th eological Seminary)

7.5 (Monday 11-12:145)
Chair and Respondent: Miriam Bodian (University of Texas at Austin)
Uriel da Costa, the Bible, and the Rabbis
Matt Goldish (Ohio State University)
Saul Levi Mortera: A Jewish Reader of the New Testament
Benjamin Fisher (University of Pennsylvania)
Seventeenth-Century Sephardim on the Bible as a Source of Political Law
Anne Oravetz Albert (Brown University

9.14 (Monday 4:30-6:30)
A Neglected (and Unpublished) Book by Ber of Bolechow: Report on a First Reading of Divre Binah
Gershon David Hundert (McGill University)

10.2 (Tuesday 8:30-10:30)
Reappraising the German-Jewish Bible: The Hirsch Chumash
Alan T. Levenson (University of Oklahoma)
Dueling Prayerbooks: ArtScroll, Koren, and Contemporary Orthodox Values
Martin I. Lockshin (York University)

11.11 (Tuesday 10:45-11:45)
Chair: Matthew B. Hoffman (Franklin & Marshall College)
Discourse Analysis and the Yiddish Press: Some Theoretical Reflections
Gerben Zaagsma (University College London)
Th e Jewish Daily Forward and Its Female Reading Audience, 1900–1940
Ellen D. Kellman (Brandeis University)
“Darfn arbeter froyen nutzn kinstleche shaynkayt-mitlen?” [Do working women need to
use artifi cial beauty products?]: Women in the 1920s Pro-Soviet Yiddish Press in Canada
Ester Reiter (York University)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Complutense Manuscripts Digitized

The blog of the special collections library at the Universade Complutense Madrid, "Folio Complutense" has an entry on their Hebrew Bible manuscript that served as the model for the Hebrew text in the Complutense Polyglot.
See here. Follow the link from the blog-post to a fully digitized version of the manuscript. Many other manuscripts in the collection, including Hebrew ones, have also been digitized.

Thanks to Marta Torres, head of Special Collections in the Complutense library, for alerting me to this.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hebrew Manuscript Exhibit in Oxford Opens Today

"CROSSING BORDERS: Hebrew Manuscripts as a Meeting-place of Cultures"

Oxford, 8 December 2009
The Bodleian Library's winter exhibition tells the story of how Jews, Christians and Muslims have together contributed to the development of the book as an object of great cultural importance. The exhibition draws on the Bodleian's Hebrew holdings, one of the largest and most important collections of Hebrew manuscripts in the world.

Covering a time span of 300 years between the thirteenth century and fifteenth century, the exhibition brings to light different aspects of Jewish life across medieval Europe and the Middle East, in cultures that were non-Jewish.

The social and cultural interaction between Jews and non-Jews in both the Muslim and Christian world can be seen in the decorative patterns, writing styles, script types and text genres of the manuscripts themselves. As a result, Hebrew manuscripts produced in different regions look quite different, showing greater similarities to the non-Hebrew books produced in the same region than to other Hebrew books.

As this exhibition shows, by importing elements of the host culture, Hebrew manuscripts are proof of coexistence and cultural affinity, as well as practical cooperation between Jews and their non-Jewish neighbours, challenging received ideas about the treatment of Jews in the Middle Ages.

Highlights of the exhibition include:

The Kennicott Bible, undoubtedly the most beautiful and extensively illustrated manuscript among Spanish Bibles of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The illuminations reveal cross-cultural influences from Spanish Bible illustrations and popular European art to Islamic non-figurative carpet and vegetal decorations. The most striking illuminations will be shown through interactive digital technology, where visitors to the exhibition can "Turn the pages" of this extraordinary treasure;

A manuscript in the hand of the great Jewish philosopher Maimonides (1135-1204) a draft of his legal code Mishneh Torah.

The Michael Mahzor: the earliest illuminated Jewish prayer book for the Festivals, produced in Germany in 1258. The prayer book was illuminated by a Christian, who - not familiar with the Hebrew script- painted the first illustration upside down.

The largest fragment of uninterrupted text of the book of Ben Sira (Ecclesiastics) in Hebrew, found at the Genizah of the synagogue in Fustat (Old Cairo). Dated 10th century it is one of the earliest examples of a Hebrew codex.

Piet van Boxel, Curator of Hebrew and Jewish Collections, Bodleian Library said: "As the exhibition title suggests, Crossing Borders recounts the history of medieval culture at the intersection between Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities. It is a largely unfamiliar story which needs to be told and can help us to understand better the relationship between these communities even in our contemporary times."

For more information please contact:
Oana Romocea, Communications Office, Bodleian Library
Tel: 01865 277627 E-mail:

8 December 2009 to 3 May 2010
Exhibition Room, Bodleian Library
Opening Hours: 9.00 am - 5.00 pm (Mon - Fri); 9.00 am - 4.30 pm (Sat);
11.00am - 5.00pm (Sun)

Admission free

* Founded in 1602, the Bodleian Library is home to over 9 million volumes and a large number of manuscripts and rare printed books. It is the largest university library in Britain and the second largest library in the UK. The Old Bodleian is also a major visitor attraction, drawing over 300,000 visitors a year. More information about the Bodleian Library and its activities can be found at

* The Bodleian's Hebraica collection dates from the earliest years of the Library's history and the accession of several key collections in the 19th century, such as the Oppenheimer Library and fragments from the Cairo Genizah, has rendered it one of the most important collections of Hebrew manuscripts in the world, alongside an extraordinarily rich collection of early Hebrew and Yiddish printed books. All fields of traditional Hebrew scholarship are represented in the collection. The Library continues to select and acquire the latest books in the various fields that support the University's programmes in Hebrew and Jewish Studies, and Eastern Christianity.

* The exhibition catalogue with the same title is also available. Crossing Borders: Hebrew Manuscripts as a Meeting-place of Cultures, edited by Piet van Boxel and Sabine Arndt, paperback, 128 pp, 70 colour images, £24.99, ISBN: 978 1 85124 313 6

Jewish Leipzig Conference and Exhibition

See below for some of the conference papers of book-historical interest....

"Jewish Leipzig - The university,the city and the court as producers, storehouses and transmitters of knowledge on Jews and Judaism in the early modern period"

The conference "Jewish Leipzig - The university, the city and the court as producers, storehouses and transmitters of knowledge on Jews and Judaism in the early modern period" explores Jewish history as an integral part of the history of the university and city of Leipzig as well as of the broader political framework of the Electorate of Saxony, the Union between Saxony and Poland and the Holy Roman Empire. The conference Jewish history as part of the history of Leipzig on three levels, concerning a) the subject matters, b) the persons and c) the institutions involved.

The conference is meant to accompany the exhibition "Leipziger Judentümer". The marginalization of the study of Judaism in the canon of university studies in the 19th and 20th centuries has often been bemoaned. It has been taken as near axiomatic that any academic studies in this field dependend ulimately on theology. In the 19th century Leopold Zunz stated regretfully that no professor gave lectures on Judaism or Jewish literature, that no German academy bestowed prizes on research on such matters and that no scholar went on research trips for such purposes. What tends to be forgotten is that Zunz claimed that the situation was different before 1760. This is the point of departure for the conference. Like the exhibition it pursues two objectives. On the one hand it aims at the reconstruction of the interest in and knowledge of Jews and Judaism, amazingly intense, ambivalent and broad, that existed in the early modern period. On the other hand the conference explores to what extent this body of knowledge was already separate from theological concerns. Contrary to the widely held opinion that interest in Jews and Judaism in premodern times was motivated predominantly, if not exclusively by theological considerations, there are several indications to the contrary. In the 18th century, but already before, there is a large body of writings that ought to be described as historical, legal, anthropoligical ,literary rather than as theological.

There are several reasons, why Leipzig is particularly suited to explore the two questions outlined above. First, together with the universities of Göttingen, Halle and Jena the university of Leipzig numbered among the most popular universities in the Holy Roman Empire. Second, founded in 1409 it was next to Heidelberg, Prague and Vienna the fourtholdest university in the Holy Roman Empire north of the Alps. Its long and uninterrupted history makes it possible to study the changing place of knowledge of Jews and Judaism in the canon of knowledge. Third, the university of Leipzig was located in a commercial town of European rank. Unlike Hamburg or Frankfurt Leipzig was both a university and a commercial town. Fourth, although neither the capital of the Electorate of Saxony nor of the Union between Saxony and Poland, nor the seat of an imperial institution of the Holy Roman Empire, its history can only be adequately understood within these broader political contexts. The court of the Elector of Saxony and King of Poland made its presence felt also in Leipzig. The specific location of Leipzig at the interface of learning, culture, politics and commerce provides us with an opportunity to combine questions of theory and practical application.

"Leipziger Judentümer - Universität, Stadt und Hof als Produzenten, Speicher und Vermittler von Wissen über Juden und Judentum"

Prof. Dr. Johannes Ulrich Schneider, Direktor der Universitätsbibliothek Leipzig; Stephan Wendehorst, Dr. Phil. (Oxon.); Anke Költsch M.A., Leipzig
16.12.2009-18.12.2009, Universitätsbibliothek Leipzig (Bibliotheca Albertina), Beethovenstrasse 6, 04107 Leipzig

Ziel der Tagung sind Rekonstruktion und Untersuchung der Rolle, die Juden und Judentum in der Wissenskultur der Frühen Neuzeit einnahmen. Die gängige Vorstellung von dieser Rolle ist durch drei Prämissen geprägt: In der Vormoderne war die Beschäftigung mit Juden und Judentum - so die herrschende Meinung - erstens theologisch motiviert, zweitens, unter Ausklammerung des zeitgenössischen Judentums auf das biblische Judentum beschränkt und drittens gemessen an modernen wissenschaftlich-kritischen Maßstäben von allenfalls antiquarischem Interesse. Diese drei, als geradezu axiomatisch geltenden Annahmen sollen auf der Tagung kritisch reflektiert werden.

Noch im 18. Jahrhundert war ungeachtet aller Voreingenommenheiten und Verzerrungen auf nicht-jüdischer Seite quer durch die philosophischen, theologischen und juristischen Fakultäten eine relativ breite Beschäftigung mit jüdischen Themen, darunter auch zeitgenössischen und innerjüdischen Gegenständen, anzutreffen. Dies lässt sich anhand zahlreicher Abhandlungen, Disputationen und Gutachten der Theologischen Fakultät wie auch der Juristenfakultät und des Leipziger Schöffenstuhls, aber auch an den Bibliotheksbeständen nachweisen.

Die Prozesse der Professionalisierung, Verstaatlichung, Nationalisierung und Verfachlichung der Wissenschaften, die wir mit der Modernisierung der Wissenschaft im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert verbinden, hat eher einen Wandel in den Herstellung und Vermittlung universitären Wissens über Juden und Judentum bewirkt als erst die Voraussetzungen für deren Entstehen geschaffen. Dieser Wandel hat einerseits, etwa auf dem Gebiet der Philologie, zu einer Professionalisierung und Ausdifferenzierung des Wissens geführt. Er war aber andererseits auch unmittelbar mit der Streichung jüdischer Themen aus dem universitären Kanon verbunden.

Es gibt mehrere Gründe, die gestellten Fragen, am Beispiel Leipzigs zu verfolgen. Erstens, Leipzig gehörte mit Göttingen, Halle und Jena zu den größten und beliebtesten Universitäten des Alten Reichs. Zweitens, nach Prag, Heidelberg und Wien war Leipzig, gegründet 1409, die viertälteste Universität des Römisch-Deutschen Reichs nördlich der Alpen. Ihre lange und ununterbrochene Geschichte bietet ausgezeichnete Voraussetzungen dafür, den sich verändernden Platz von Wissensbeständen über Juden und Judentum im Wissenskanon in epochenübergreifenden Längsschnittstudien zu untersuchen. Drittens, Leipzig war nicht nur Universitäts-, sondern auch Handelsstadt. Viertens, auch wenn Leipzig weder die Hauptstadt des Kurfürstentums Sachsen noch der Union zwischen Sachsen und Polen-Litauen war noch Reichsinstitutionen wie den Reichstag oder das Kammergericht beherbergte, kann seine Geschichte nur im Kontext der politischen Geschichte Sachsens, der Verbindung mit Polen-Litauen und des Reichs verstanden werden. Der Hof des Kurfürsten-Königs war nicht nur während der Messezeiten in Leipzig präsent, ein nicht unerheblicher Unterschied zu Hamburg oder Frankfurt.

Die Konferenz wird gefördert von der Fritz Thyssen Stiftung.

Mittwoch, 16.12.2009:
Teil I: Die Vormoderne in der Moderne/ Part I: Premodernity in Modern Times

Ruth von Bernuth (Chapel Hill): Paulus von Prag und seine moderne Nachgeschichte/Paulus von Prag and his Modern Legacy

Dagmar Hoffmann-Axthelm (Basel): Bach und die "perfidia iudaica"

Stephan Wendehorst (Gießen/Wien): Vergessene Vorläufer des Zionismus? Hugo Grotius, John Selden, Carl Ferdinand Hommel und die völkerrechtliche Deutung der rechtlichen Stellung der Juden in der Frühen Neuzeit

Teil II: Rahmenbedingungen/Part II: Contexts

Detlef Döring (Leipzig): Stadt und Universität Leipzig in der Frühen Neuzeit

Markus Denzel (Leipzig): Der Leipziger Wechselmarkt in der vorindustriellen Zeit

Elisheva Carlebach (New York): Combining Business with Pleasure: Jews at the Leipzig Fairs in the Early Modern Period

Donnerstag, 17.12.2009
Teil III: Institutionelle Schnittstellen/Part III: Institutional Interfaces

Nathanael Riemer (Potsdam): Das Bild vom "Judentum" in der Frühneuzeitlichen Journalistik. Die Wochenzeitschrift "Der Rabbiner" des Theologen und Polyhistors Johann Christian Schöttgen

Christoph Rymatzki: Das Institutum Judaicum in Halle/Saale und dessen Leipziger Freundeskreis in seiner Vermittlerrolle zwischen Kirche und Judentum: periodische Informationsschriften, Korrespondenz, missionarische Begegnungen sowie jiddische Sprach- und Proselytenpflege

Giuseppe Veltri (Halle): Die Judaicabestände der Universitäten Halle und Wittenberg

Jacub Goldberg (Jerusalem): Das Gutachten der Leipziger Theologen gegen die Ritualmordvorwürfe in Polen

Anja Amend-Traut und Gabriele Schlick-Bamberger (Frankfurt am Main): "Aus dem Grunde der Menschlichkeit..." - Wie die Leipziger Juristenfakultät dazu beitrug, die Teilhabe der Juden an den geltenden Rechten zu bekräftigen

Alexander Schunka (Stuttgart): Konvertiten und Kirche in Sachsen um 1700

Stefan Ehrenpreis (Berlin/München): Herrschaftskonkurrenz und Antisemitismus - ein antijüdischer Wettlauf? Die brandenburgischen Erbansprüche in Franken und der Fall Eisenmenger im 18. Jahrhundert

Ittai Tamari (München): Der Hebräische Buchdruck in Leipzig

Teil IV: Personen/Part IV: People

Christoph Bultmann (Erfurt): Wahrnehmung oder Widerlegung? Hugo Grotius über die Vielfalt der Religionen

Stefan Michel (Jena): Christliche Hebraistik und lutherische Orthodoxie - Das Beispiel Johann Benedikt Carpzov (1639-1699) in Leipzig

Freitag, 18.12.2009
Grit Schorch (Halle): Moses Mendelssohns Gottsched-Kritik. Philosophische und ästhetische Differenzen zwischen Berlin und Leipzig

Jeannine Kuhnert (Erfurt): Wissensspeicher - Speicherort: Zwei "Juden-Könige" in "christlichen" Quellen - Sabbatai Zwi und Oliger Pauli

Teil V: Konkurrenz und Austausch: Kunst und Architektur/Part V: Matters of Contest and Exchange and Negotiation: Art and Architecture

Heinrich Dilly (Halle): Der Schattenriss des Jerusalemer Tempels aus dem Jahr 1694 von Leonhard Christoph Sturm

Tobias Funke (Leipzig): Eine christlich-kabbalistische Interpretation der Inschriften an Barthels Hof, als Beispiel der Rezeption jüdischer Traditionen im Leipzig des 16. Jahrhunderts

Michael Korey (Dresden): Die 'Juden-Schul' im Dresdner Zwinger. Eine Spurensuche nach einem vergessenen jüdischen Museum des 18. Jahrhunderts

Abschlußdiskussion/Concluding discussion

Dr. Stephan Wendehorst
Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

New Auction Catalogues

From Kestenbaum & Company, for an auction on December 10: Also there is information about their new address.

And from Sotheby's, for an auction that took place last week:
(via the Hagahot blog:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Catalogue of Hebrew Mss in Vatican Library now on-line

The National Library of Israel is pleased to announce that the catalogue of the Hebrew manuscripts in the Vatican library is now available online on the website of the National Library of Israel.:

The catalogue was published by the publishing house of the Vatican Library which graciously granted permission to display it online. In the near future the catalogue will also be online at the website of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vatican.

Hebrew Manuscripts in the Vatican Library: Catalogue, compiled by the staff of the Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts, Jewish National and University Library, Jerusalem, edited by Benjamin Richler; paleographical and codicological descriptions Malachi Beit-Arié in collaboration with Nurit Pasternak. (Città del Vaticano: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 2008, Studi e Testi 438)

Benjamin Richler

Call for Papers: British Association for Jewish Studies

CFP 'The Image and the Prohibition of the Image in Judaism'
British Association for Jewish Studies (BAJS), Southampton,
5-7 September, 2010

Call for Papers:
The theme of 2010 BAJS Conference (Sunday 5th - Tuesday 7th September 2010) is 'The Image and the Prohibition of the Image in Judaism'. Topics may cover any time period from antiquity to the contemporary, and any place or cultural context relevant for Jewish Studies. The 'image' may be interpreted broadly to include the non-visual (e.g. literary representations and conceptual images) as well as the visual. The =
expectation is that papers will explore different aspects of the acceptance and the rejection of images in Jewish thought and practice from the Bible to the modern world. Topics may include the secular as well as the religious sphere.

Proposals for papers (and panels) in the following areas are especially welcome:

* biblical traditions and their interpretation
* notions of 'the image of God'
* Jewish art and Jewish symbols
* idolatry and iconoclasm
* the prohibition and acceptance of images in Holocaust representation
* representing Jewishness in film and television
* Jewish/non-Jewish relations and the second commandment

Practical details:
Single paper proposals should be no longer than 250 words and panel proposals need not exceed one page. Please email proposals to Dr Sarah Pearce ( with 'BAJS 2010' in the subject line. The deadline for paper abstracts and proposed panels is 31 May 2010.
Registration details will be circulated soon.

Please note the September date for this meeting instead of the usual July date. This change was made for 2010 in order to avoid clashes with the July 2010 conferences of the European Association of Jewish Studies (Ravenna) and the UK Society for Old Testament Studies (Sheffield).

Please note that though the conference is open to all (see details below), anyone wishing to present a paper who is not a member of BAJS must join by the time of the conference. Membership is open to anyone interested in an academic approach to Jewish studies. For membership enquiries and applications, please write to: Dr James K. Aitken,Lecturer in Hebrew, Old Testament and Second Temple Studies, Faculty of =
Divinity | West Road | Cambridge CB3 9BS | UK. BAJS Website :

There are three categories of membership of BAJS:
1. Ordinary Members: Ordinary membership is open to scholars concerned with the academic pursuit of Jewish Studies.
2. Student Members: Student membership is open to graduate students working for a higher degree in the field of Jewish Studies.
3. Associate Members: Associate membership is open to (a) those outside the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland who have a serious academic interest in Jewish =
Studies, and (b) those within the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland with a serious academic interest in Jewish Studies but who are not professionally involved in the subject.
Members of all categories are welcome to attend the annual conference and to present papers at it (subject to acceptance via the Call for Papers process).

(from H-Judaic)

Call for Papers: Canadian Association for the Study of Book Culture

May 31-June 1, 2010
6th Annual Meeting: Canadian Association for the Study of Book Culture
(Association canadienne pour l'etude de l'histoire du livre)
CFP at: due December 15, 2009

(from SHARP-L)

Monday, November 2, 2009

American Academy of Religion Montreal Nov 7-10

Of interest:

Religion in Europe and the Mediterranean World, 500–1650 CE Consultation
Monday - 4:00 pm-6:30 pm
Martha Newman, University of Texas, Presiding
Theme: Monasteries, Madrasahs, and Metivtas: Centers of Religious Learning in Medieval Christianity, Islam, and Judaism

Heather Empey, McGill University
North African “Schools” in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries: Some Pre-Madrasah Institutions of Learning in the Western Mediterranean
Robert Moore, Emory University
Professionalizing the Professorate: Exclusionary Practices in Madrasahs of Mamluk Cairo (1250–1517)

Hartley Lachter, Muhlenberg College
Brotherhoods of Secrecy: Jewish Mystical Fraternities and Esoteric Discourse in Medieval Spain

Rabia Gregory, University of Missouri
Slipping Off the Wedding Ring: Mystical Authority and Women Teachers in Late Medieval Convents

Lehman Marjorie S., Jewish Theological Seminary of America
The Salonikan Jewish Community: Making Curricular Inroads Following the Spanish Expulsion

for more details:

American Historical Association

The on-line program for the January AHA conference is now on-line:

Papers/Sessions of Potential Interest:

Alejandro Dujovne , Instituto de Desarrollo Economico y Social, Buenos Aires,
"The Translation and Publishing of Books in the Construction of Transnational Jewish Geography: The Case of the Jewish Argentinean Publishing House “Israel,” 1938–69"
James W. Cortada, IBM
Anthony Grafton, Princeton University
Brian E. C. Schottlaender, University of California, San Diego
Abby S. Rumsey, independent consultant
Panel: What Becomes of Print in the Digital Age?

2010 Lehmann Workshop Announced


The Jewish Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania, in conjunction with the University of Pennsylvania Library and the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, are pleased to announce the tenth annual Manfred R. Lehmann Memorial Master Workshop to be held on May 23-24, (Sunday-Monday), 2010, at the Katz Center.
This year's workshop will be led by Dr. Emile Schrijver, Curator of the Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana at the University of Amsterdam. The workshop will treat "The Jewish Book In and Around Amsterdam," and will focus on three main topics: (1) the heyday of Hebrew printing in Amsterdam in the 17th century and its coming into existence; (2) the printed and manuscript book tradition of the Amsterdam Sephardim; and (3) the influence of the Amsterdam Hebrew book on surrounding Jewish communities. The last session will focus on future research agendas for the various fields of research dealt with in the earlier sessions. The sessions will include detailed readings of title pages, colophons, and relevant archival and other primary and secondary sources.
The workshop is open to professors and independent scholars, professional librarians in the field of Jewish and related studies, and graduate students in Jewish Studies. Attendance at previous workshops is not a prerequisite for admission.
Because much of the Workshop will be devoted to the reading of Hebrew texts like colophons, it is necessary that all participants be able to read non-vocalized Hebrew texts.
For faculty and professionals, tuition is $250. In addition to attendance and all materials for the workshop, the tuition includes two or three nights in a hotel (double-occupancy) for the nights of May 22 and 23 (with the option of May 21), and all meals and refreshments (all kosher) during the course of the workshop.
Graduate students may apply for a scholarship to the workshop, that covers tuition, hotel accommodations, and meals. N.B. To apply for the scholarship, a graduate student should write us giving the details of his or her academic program and a brief statement explaining how the workshop will further his or her academic studies. S/he should also ask a faculty advisor to write us a letter of recommendation on the student's behalf.
Attendance is limited. If you are interested in attending the workshop, please notify us immediately. Full payment must be received by March 1, 2010. Make checks payable to “Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania.”
A registration form is available at:

Please address all correspondence to:

Lehmann Workshop
c/o Jewish Studies Program
711 Williams Hall
255 S. 36th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

The Manfred R. Lehmann Memorial Master Workshop in the History of the Jewish Book has been made possible by a generous contribution from the Manfred and Anne Lehmann Foundation along with grants from Mr. Albert Friedberg, the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation, Andrew H. Cohn, Esq. C'66, and the University of Pennsylvania Research Foundation.

YIVO Programs of Interest

Upcoming YIVO Programs

NOTE: The lecture "Remembering (in) the Mother Tongue" by Hannah Pressman originally scheduled for Thursday, November 12 has been postponed until Thursday, May 13, 2010.



Agnieszka Oleszak
University College London

This presentation aims to reconstruct the history of establishing Beys Ya'akov in 1917 in Krakow as well as to explain the process of its institutionalization. This early stage in the history of Beys Ya'akov seems to be neglected in the existing research, most likely due to the lack of historical sources. In her presentationOleszak will attempt to shed new light on the early years of the school in order to illustrate the process of legitimizing the idea of institutionalized religious education for Jewish girls.

Admission: Free
RSVP: 917.606.8290 |
For more information, click here.



Dr. Rebekka Voss

The lecture traces the Yiddish term and legend of the Red Jews, the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, to its origins in Medieval German lore. It explores what different meanings the Jewish notion of the Red Jews has acquired over the centuries, how the term has been filled and refilled with new content in order to express larger ideas, central to the Jewish experience from the early modern times through modernity.

Admission: Free
RSVP: 917.606.8290 |

All events take place at the
YIVO Institute for Jewish Research | 15 West 16th Street
New York | NY | 10011

November 6 in Los Angeles: GlobalPrint Conference

In LA on Friday, I will speak at a USC-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute Conference on "Printing Globalized":
details at:

Reminder: David Stern at the Newberry Library Thursday

In Chicago on Thursday--David Stern will speak at the Newberry Library:

The Newberry Library Center for Renaissance Studies
History of the Book Lectures
with co-sponsorship by the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies

David Stern , University of Pennsylvania
"Through the Pages of the Past: The Jewish Book in Historical Contexts"
5:30 pm, Thursday, November 5, 2009
Advance registration required: e-mail or call 312-255-3514

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hebrew Printing in Ukraine

The exhibit "Hebrew Printing in Ukraine" from the Kiev collection at George Washington University is now online.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Call for Papers: Conference at University of Manchester, 21 January 2010

The History of the Book: Culture, Community, Criticism

Chetham’s Library and the University of Manchester are pleased to
announce their third one-day interdisciplinary history of the book and
material culture conference at Chetham's Library, Manchester, taking
place Thursday 21st January 2010.

Call for Papers

We invite 20-minute papers from postgraduate students of any discipline
who are interested in book history and material culture. Our aim this
year is to encourage the combining of methodologies developed in book
history in the last thirty years with those of other currents in
twentieth-century cultural theory, literary criticism and the study of
community. While all abstracts relating to book history and material
culture will be considered, we particularly welcome papers that engage
any of the following areas:

- The use book history can make of other twentieth-century cultural and
literary theory; what might book history perspectives have to say about
the writing and dissemination of these intellectual trends?
- The tension between practices of ‘form and content’ reading and book
history’s interest in paratextual apparatuses, editorial processes and
- The relationship between the texts and materials we study and the
communities that produce them; study of the evidence of how communities
inscribe themselves into texts as in the study of second hand books, or
communal responses to texts as in fan fiction.
- The national or cross-cultural transmission of texts, the function of
technology in this transmission and the production of international

Guest Speakers

We are very pleased to announce that Joad Raymond (University of East
Anglia) and Isabel Rivers (Queen Mary, University of London) have
agreed to present guest papers at our event. Professor Raymond will be
discussing Milton and the pan-European circulation of newsbooks in the
seventeenth century, and Professor Rivers will present her current
research on the culture of religious publishing in the eighteenth

It's free! And so is lunch!

Thanks to the support of the School of Arts, Histories and Cultures
SAGE Postgraduate Training Programme, there will be no charge for the
conference or for the conference lunch.


Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be sent to by Friday 20th November 2009.

To register to attend please contact the same with details of your


Thurs Oct 29: Women and the Yiddish Press: Panel in NYC

*The Jewish Feminist Research Group presents:*

"Addressing the Ladies": *
*A Panel on Women and the Yiddish Press*

Thursday, October 29, 2009 5:00-6:30 PM

*Dr. Rachel Rojanski* Associate Professor of Modern Jewish History,
University of Haifa, Fellow Katz CAJS, UPENN "Yiddish Journals for Women
in Israel:Immigrant Press and Gender Construction (1948-1952)"

*Shelby Shapiro* Ph.D. in American Studies, University of Maryland "A
Woman's Place: The Women's Sections in Three Yiddish Mass Circulation
Daily Papers, 1914-1925."
*Dr. Rebecca Kobrin* Assistant Professor of Jewish History, Columbia
University The event will be held in the Berman Board Room at the Jewish
Theological Seminary, 3080 Broadway, NYC (@ 122nd St).

Light refreshments will be served.

Please RSVP to and
receive a copy of the paper to be discussed.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Postgraduate conference sponsored by Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes and the Société des Etudes Juives :
(‘Ongoing research on Hebrew manuscripts at EPHE: present and future’)

Salle Vasari, Galerie Colbert, 2 rue Vivienne, 75002 Paris (France)
Monday, 16 November 2009

All papers will be given and discussions will be conducted in French.
Further details:

9h00-9h15 Opening remarks: Judith Olszowy-Schlanger (EPHE)

First session “Palaeography and Codicology”; chairperson: Jesús de Prado Plumed (EPHE, Universidad Complutense)

9h15-9h45 Élodie Attia (EPHE), “Les types et genres d’écriture en Italie au XVIe siècle” (‘Types of Hebrew script in sixteenth-century Italy’)
9h45-10h15 Éliane Roos Schuhl (EPHE), “Pérégrinations d'une ligature : le alef-lamed en amont et en aval d'un manuscrit alsacien du XVIIIe siècle” (‘Pilgrimage of a ligature: alef-mem upstairs, downstairs in an eighteenth-century Alsation manuscript’)
10h15-10h45 Justine Isserles (EPHE, Université de Genève): “Description et mise en contexte du manuscrit hébreu de rite français MS Parm. 1902 (Bibl. Palatina, Parme) suivi de l'étude d'une recette de Harosset en judéo-français” (‘Description and context of French rite Hebrew manuscript : MS. Parm. 1902 (Bibl. Palatina, Parma) followed by a study of a Harosset recipe in Judaeo-French’)

10h45-11h00 Break

Second session: “Text and context”; chairperson : Élodie Attia (EPHE)

11h00-11h30 Emma Abate (EPHE, Università della Sapienza), “Pages manquantes : une étude sur les fragments magiques de la Guéniza conservés dans la bibliothèque de l’Alliance Israélites Universelle” (‘Missing pages: A study on Genizah magic fragments hold by Alliance Israélite Universelle’s Library, Paris’)
11h30-12h00 Ilana Wartenberg (University College London): “Iggeret ha-Mispar par Isaac ben Salomon Ibn al-Ahdab (Sicile, XIVème siècle)” (‘Iggeret ha-Mispar by Isaac ben Salomon Ibn Al-Ahdab (Sicily, 14th century)’)
12h00-12h30 Silvia Di Donato (CHSPAM, CNRS): “Le nouveau catalogue des manuscrits hébreux de la BnF. Les commentaires bibliques, premier volume” (‘The new catalogue of Hebrew manuscripts at the National Library of France. Biblical commentaries, first volume’)

12h30-14h00 LUNCH BREAK

Third session: “Fates of manuscripts”; chairperson : Silvia Di Donato (CHSPAM, CNRS)

14h00-14h30 Luca Baraldi (INALCO, Fondazione San Carlo) : “Cum bonis et familiis tuti et securi ? : lumière et ombre sur les écritures hébraïques de la Maison d’Este” (‘Cum bonis et families tuti et securi?: light and shadow on Hebrew scripts of the House of Este’)
14h30-15h00 Jesús de Prado Plumed (EPHE, Universidad Complutense): “Qu’est-ce qu’un livre juif ? À propos de quelques paradoxes tirées de l’œuvre manuscrite d’Alfonso de Zamora (fl. 1512-1545)” (‘What is a Jewish book? On some paradoxes drawn from the manuscript corpus of Alfonso de Zamora (fl. 1512-1545)’)

Fourth session (I) : « Teamwork and tools”; chairperson: Éliane Roos Schuhl (EPHE)

15h15-15h45 Wissem Gueddich (EPHE): “Les travaux menés en 2008 sur les fragments en écriture hébraïque de Figuig (Maroc)” (‘Fieldwork on Hebrew-script fragments in Figuig (Morocco) conducted in 2008’)
15h45-16h15 Judith Kogel (EPHE): “Fragments hébreux dans les bibliothèques de France – Nord-Est” (‘Hebrew fragments in French libraries: Northwest of France’)

16h15-16h30 Break

Fourth session (II) : “Teamwork and tools”; chairperson: Ilana Wartenberg (University College London)

16h30-17h00 Élodie Attia (EPHE), Justine Isserles (EPHE, Université de Genève) : “Fragments hébreux dans les bibliothèques de France – Sud- Est et Suisse “ (‘Hebrew fragments in French libraries: Southwest and Switzerland’)
17h00-17h30 Rodolphe Kay (Projet ‘Fragments hébreux’), “Le site web du projet ‘Fragments hébreux dans les bibliothèques de France” (‘A website for the Project ‘Hebrew fragments in French libraries’)

Fifth session: “Book, script and detail”; chairperson: Judith Olszowy-Schlanger (EPHE)

17h30-18h00 Geoffrey Khan (University of Cambridge): “La tradition tibérienne de lecture de l'hébreu et les manuscrits médiévaux avec des signes vocaliques tibériens” (‘The Tiberian Hebrew reading tradition and Medieval manuscripts with Tiberian vowel signs’)
18h00-19h00 Colette Sirat (IRHT, EPHE): “Panorama des monuments graphiques en caractères hébreux du Moyen Âge” (‘An overview of Medieval written landmarks in Hebrew script’)
19h00-19h30 Élodie Attia (EPHE), Jesús de Prado Plumed (EPHE, Universidad Complutense): “Conclusions et perspectives” (‘Conclusions and perspectives’)

19h30-19h45 Judith Olszowy-Schlanger (EPHE), closing remarks

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Quntres: Call for Papers

The libraries of The Jewish Theological Seminary are seeking submissions
for the annual issue of Quntres: An Online Journal for the History,
Culture and Art of the Jewish Book, which will be published in 2010. For
information about the journal, including directions for submissions,
please see You may also
direct inquiries to one of the editors, Prof. David Kraemer
( or Prof. Shmuel Glick

Monday, September 14, 2009

Short-Term Research Grants, Princeton University Library

Each year, the Friends of the Princeton University Library offer short-
term Library Research Grants to promote scholarly use of the research

For more information, or to apply, please go to

Linda Oliveira
Senior Library Secretary
Rare Books and Special Collections
Princeton University Library
1 Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544
(609) 258-3155
FAX - (609) 258-2324

October 6: Jewish Theological Seminary Library Open House, New York

Please join JTS library staff on Tuesday, October 6th from 4:30-6 pm on the 5th floor of the Library for an exploration of the High Holidays through our holdings of manuscripts, rare books, broadsides and archival material, as well as our digital collections. The Library’s staff will be on hand to show and discuss with you a choice selection of items from our collection, which is recognized as the greatest Judaica library in the Western hemisphere. You will also have the opportunity to visit our state-of-the-art conservation lab. If you would like to attend this event, please RSVP to Hector Guzman at

As part of the Seminary’s festivities, please stay for dinner in one of our beautiful sukkot.

We are located at 3080 Broadway and 122nd street, accessible by the 1 train and the M4 and M104 buses.

We look forward to seeing you on October 6th.

Sarah Diamant
Administrative Librarian for Special Collections

Friday, September 4, 2009

David Stern: "Through the Pages of the Past" Lecture at the Newberry Library, Chicago, November 5, 2009

The Newberry Library Center for Renaissance Studies
History of the Book Lectures

with co-sponsorship by the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies

David Stern , University of Pennsylvania
"Through the Pages of the Past: The Jewish Book in Historical Contexts"
5:30 pm, Thursday, November 5, 2009

Advance registration required: e-mail or call 312-255-3514.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Visiting Professorship in Contemporary International Issues – Middle East at U. Pittsburgh

Anybody working on book culture/media/internet in the contemporary Middle East?

Visiting Professorship in Contemporary International Issues – Middle East

The University Center for International Studies (UCIS) at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) is currently seeking a Visiting Professor in Contemporary International Issues for the 2010-11 academic year. We invite applications from faculty from research universities and liberal arts colleges, whose disciplinary expertise focuses on the Middle East. Candidates from any discipline, and at any rank, may apply. For this one-year appointment (August 2010 to April 2011), the Visiting Professor will teach two courses per term and participate in UCIS and departmental activities. Applicants must demonstrate outstanding professional achievement in both research and teaching, and should have an earned PhD in a relevant discipline. Individuals with extensive and high-level international experience in government or non-governmental organizations may also apply. For more information regarding UCIS, Pitt, and how to apply for this prestigious position, visit: or email Applications are due by October 5, 2009.

September 10, 2009: Kestenbaum Auction

from the e-mail announcement:

"Fine Judaica Will Be Auctioned By Kestenbaum & Company
On September 10th 2009 at 3:00 pm
Sale to Include Duplicates from the Rare Book Room of The Yivo Library, New York
and The Library of the Late Dr. Max Kimche, Part II

Kestenbaum & Company's fall auction of Fine Judaica is scheduled for Thursday, September 10th at 3:00 pm. The sale will take place at the firm's gallery in New York City. The majority of the sale will feature Duplicates from the Rare Book Room of The YIVO Library, New York along with the second part of The Library of the Late Dr. Max Kimche of Zurich. A good selection of Manuscripts, Illustrated Books and Graphic Art will be offered as well.

Dr. Max Kimche (1907-1987), a lawyer and financier from Switzerland devoted his life to his community and other Jewish causes. His love of Hebrew books and learning led to his acquirement of a supreme library over the course of his life. The first part of his exceptional library was offered for sale at Kestenbaum & Company's auction in June 2009 and yielded impressive results. Presented in this current auction is the second part of the library.

For further information relating to bidding or any other queries, please contact:
Daniel Kestenbaum 212-366-1197

Most prominent among the books offered for sale are rare Incunabula including the first complete printed edition of the Mishnah, Naples, 1942 at a pre-auction estimate of $30,000-40,000 (lot 231); Solomon Ibn Gabirol's Mivchar HaPeninim, Soncino, 1484, estimate $12,000-18,000 (lot 154); Immanuel Ben Solomon of Rome's Sepher HaMachbaroth, the first printed book of Hebrew poetry, Brescia, 1491, estimate $10,000-15,000 (lot 161) and David Kimche's Sepher HaShorashim, Naples, 1491, at an estimate of $10,000-15,000 (lot 197).

Early Printed Books
The sale features a significant section of Early Printed Rabbinic Books. Fine examples include Shimon B"R Yochai's Sepher HaZohar, Cremona, 1559-1560, estimate $12,000-18,000 (lot 261), Elazar Ben Judah of Worms' Sepher HaRoke'ach, Fano, 1505, estimate $10,000-15,000 (lot 98) and Moses Ben Maimon's Mishneh Torah, Venice, 1574-75, at an estimate of $7,000-10,000 (lot 241). Further highlights are Elijah Mizrachi's Sepher HaMispar, Constantinople, 1533-34, estimate $7,000-10,000 (lot 235); Moses Ben Nachman's Peirush Ha-Torah, Pesaro, 1513-14, estimate $6,000-9,000 (lot 242); Jacob Landau's Sepher Agur, Rimini, 1525-26, estimate $5,000-7,000 (lot 204) and Kol Bo, Rimini, 1525, at a pre-sale estimate of $6,000-8,000 (lot 201).

Bomberg Talmud
Early Venetian editions of the Bomberg Talmud offered for auciton include Masechta Eduyoth, 1521, estimate $3,000-5,000 (lot 266); Masechta Temurah, 1522, estimate $3,000-5,000 (lot 267); Masechta Eruvin, 1522, estimate $8,000-10,000 (lot 268); Masechta Nazir, 1522, estimate $6,000-8,000 (lot 269) and Masechta Bechoroth, 1522, at an estimate of $4,000-6,000 (lot 270).

Passover Hagadot
Passover Hagadahs of particular interest are Sepher Zevach Pesach, Cremona, 1557, estimate $2,000-3,000 (lot 128) and Hagadah shel Pesach, complete with engraved folding map of the Land of Israel, Amsterdam, 1712, at an estimate of $3,000-5,000 (lot 129). Also notable are two Holocaust-related Hagadahs which parallel the suffering endured in Egypt to the misery inflicted upon the Jews by the Nazis: Yosef Dov Sheinson's Musaph LeHagadah shel Pesach, Munich, 1946, at an estimate of $3,000-5,000 (lot 137) and H.agadah shel Pesach - She'erith HaPleitah Be'Landsberg, 1946, estimate $2,000-3,000 (lot 134).

Most prominent in the Americana section is the first Hebrew Bible printed in America, Philadelphia, 1814, estimate $10,000-15,000 (lot 28) and the first complete set of the Talmud to be printed in North America, Montreal, 1919, at an estimate of $1,000-1,500 (lot 31).

Further books of note include Tobias Cohn's Ma'aseh Tuviah (the celebrated encyclopedia of medical and natural sciences), Venice, 1707-1708, estimate $3,000-5,000 (lot 86); a miniature Bible, published in Chicago before 1912, (which is the very smallest Hebrew miniature book printed) estimate $1,200-1,500 (lot 229) and a scarce early report concerning the Jewish community of Kaifeng China written by Christoph Gottlieb von Murr, Hale, 1806, at an estimate of $1,200-1,800 (lot 82).

Rounding out the Printed Book Section is a number of polemical texts by Jacob Emden, along with a single volume consisting of a fascinating collection of records noting the self-government of the Aschkenazic Community of Amsterdam all bound in a fine contemporary Dutch-Jewish binding, Amsterdam, 1737-1773 at an estimate of $6,000-9,000 (lot 27).

Illustrated Books
Good selections among the Illustrated Books are Bernard Picart's The Religious Ceremonies and Customs of the Several Nations of the Known World, complete in six volumes, London, 1731-1737 (lot 292); C. R. Conder & H.H. Kitchener's Map of Western Palestine containing all twenty-six large sheets, London, 1880, estimate $1,000-1,500 (lot 287) and Moyshe Broderson's book of poetry, Yud featuring photomontages of early 20th century Polish Jewry, Lodz, 1939, at an estimate of $600-900 (lot 283).

The Manuscripts section of the sale features two appealing illuminated Marriage Contracts, one from Ponta Delgada, 1831, relating to the exotic Jewish community of the Azores Islands, estimate $3,000-5,000 (lot 304) and the other is a marriage contract of a member of the Lisboan branch of the Amzalak Family, Lisbon, 1860, estimate $2,000-3,000 (lot 305). Also eye-catching are three illuminated Esther Scrolls. Two of the scrolls are of contemporary vintage while the third is likely Near Eastern, 19th century (lots 308-310).

Graphic Art
A large Map of the Holy Land by Jan Janssonius, estimate $3,000-5,000 (lot 315) is a striking example in the Graphic Art section. Also noteworthy are a number of engravings by Hermann Struck.

Viewing Beforehand on:
Tuesday, 8th September ......... 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Wednesday, 9th September ......... 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Thursday, 10th September ............ 10:00 am - 2:30 pm (Auction commencing at 3pm)
(Note: NO VIEWING on Sunday and Monday, 6th-7th September)

Kestenbaum and Company
12 West 27th Street, 13th Floor
New York, NY 10001
Tel: (212) 366-1197
Fax: (212) 366-1368

Seminars at Nouvelle Gallia Judaica, Montpellier

The last seminar (7 June 2010) looks particularly relevant for the history of the book.

LEM — UMR 8584
1, rue de la Barralerie
34000 Montpellier
Tél. : 04 67 55 60 42

SÉMINAIRES 2009-2010

[deuxième partie]

Les séances se déroulent à 14h30 dans « La SALLE DES TROIS ARCHES » de l’Institut Maïmonide

Moyen âge occidental
- Lundi 9 novembre 2009. OUVERTURE par Danièle IANCU-AGOU (NGJ) : « L’artisan du renouveau des études juives en Catalogne : Eduard Feliu (1938-2009), in memoriam ».
Flocel SABATE (Université de Lérida) : « Sefarad réinventée : le patrimoine culturel juif espagnol entre Histoire et réinvention ».
- Lundi 14 décembre 2009. Gérard NAHON (EPHE) « Le cimetière juif d’Ennezat (Puy-de-Dôme) classé monument historique », et Bruno PORTET (Musées de Cavaillon) : « Le sceau juif de Saint-Rémy-de-Provence ».
- Lundi 4 janvier 2010. Philippe BLANCHARD (INRAP) et Patrice GEORGES (INRAP) : « L’archéologie préventive et les cimetières juifs : l’exemple de Châteauroux (Indre) ».
- Lundi 8 février 2010. Claude DE MECQUENEM (INRAP et NGJ) et Hervé GUY (INRAP) : « Les synagogues médiévales : un cas très probable: Lagny-sur-Marne, et une opération en cours : le cas de Trets ».
- Mercredi 17 mars 2010 : Laurence SIGAL (Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsme, Paris) : « L’arche sainte de Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux (Drôme) ».
- Lundi 26 avril 2010 : Alexandra VERONESE (Université de Pise) : « L’ancien cimetière hébraïque du Lido de Venise (XIVe-XVIIIe siècle) ».

Époque moderne orientale
- Lundi 10 mai 2010 : Carol IANCU (Université Paul Valéry III) : « Réflexions sur les cimetières juifs de Roumanie ».
- Lundi 7 juin 2010 : Daniel TOLLET (Institut de recherches pour l’étude des religions, Université Paris IVSorbonne): « Archives juives, bibliothèques et lieux de mémoire de la Pologne moderne ».
CLÔTURE : Bilan des deux Séminaires (2008-2009 et 2009-2010) et perspectives de recherches par Danièle IANCU-AGOU.

Braginsky Exhibition at Biblioteca Rosenthaliana, Amsterdam

Click on the image to enlarge it for viewing.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Aviva Kempner at the Library of Congree on Mrs. Goldberg

Mrs. Goldberg"

Gertrude Berg

The Hebraic Section, African and
Middle Eastern Division

The Library of Congress

In Celebration of Jewish American
Heritage Month 2009 presents
a Film-in-Progress Screening,
a Lecture, and a Discussion
about Gertrude Berg by Director Aviva
Free and Open to the Public

Wednesday, May 5th 2009
12 Noon – 1:00 PM
Pickford Theater
3rd Floor Madison Building
Library of Congress
101 Independence Ave. S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20540
For additional information contact:
Peggy Pearlstein (202) 707 – 3779 or

Please allow time to clear security

Request ASL and ADA accommodation five days in advance at (202) 707-6362 or

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Early Modern Workshop 2009: "Reading Across Cultures: The Jewish Book and Its Readers in the Early Modern Period"

2009 Early Modern Workshop Announcement
The sixth Early Modern Workshop will focus on the topic of “Reading across Cultures: The Jewish Book and Its Readers in the Early Modern Period.” The workshop will be held at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard University from Sunday, August 23, 2009 and to Tuesday, August 25, 2009. The keynote speaker will be Professor Ann Blair (Harvard University).

The proposed workshop aims to understand more deeply the developments in reading within Jewish society, as well as the impact the Jewish book may have had on culture in early modern Europe among both Jews and Christians. Recent studies, mostly on France, England, and Italy, have focused on the people behind “the book” – not only the author, but also those involved in book production and distribution, as well as the readers. As Guiglielmo Cavallo and Roger Chartier have argued, the text is fixed, whereas reading is ephemeral and creative. This workshop will seek to open a discussion of the culture of reading in Jewish society, as well as of the reading of Jewish books in Christian society, during a period of rapid cultural transformation. It will bring existing scholarship on the history of reading in Christian Europe to bear on the subject of Jewish reading. For example, scholars in this realm have highlighted the importance of medieval monastic culture for the development of silent reading, which in the early modern period became normalized within a broader reading community. What were the different or parallel developments within Jewish society, with its very different institutions and conventions of learning? How did print and access to books affect readers? Did it facilitate new reading communities? Did it modify existing reading traditions? And did it affect the ways of reading? How did authorities seek to control or prevent access to new texts, and how did these measures affect readers?

The proposed workshop will bring together scholars in European history who have done innovative work in book history and scholars of early modern Jewish culture who have explored the “Jewish book” and its reading in different environments. Given the dramatic recent developments on the book and reading within non-Jewish historiography, we would like to facilitate a workshop that would bring together scholars of Jewish and non-Jewish cultural history to explore this field. We hope that such an encounter will allow for a fruitful discussion, opening up some new questions for the broader field of the history of reading.

March 25: JTS Special Collections Pre-Passover Tour

A message from the Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary:

Please join JTS library staff on Wednesday, March 25, from 4-6pm on the 5th floor of the Library for an exploration of Passover through our holdings of manuscripts, rare books, broadsides and archival material, as well as our digital and video collections. The Library’s staff will be on hand to show and discuss with you a choice selection of items from our collection, which is recognized as the greatest Judaica library in the Western hemisphere. You will also have the opportunity to visit our state-of-the-art conservation lab. We look forward to seeing you on March 25th. If you would like to attend this event, please RSVP to Hector Guzman at
We are located at 3080 Broadway and 122nd street, accessible by the 1 train and the M4 and M104 buses.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Congratulations to Katrin Kogman-Appel

At the 2009 conference of the American Historical Association, Katrina Kogman-Appel (Ben Gurion University) was awarded the Premio Del Rey Book Prize for her Illuminated Haggadot from Medieval Spain: Biblical Imagery and the Passover Holiday (Penn State UP, 2006).

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Valmadonna Trust Library on exhibit in New York

David Wachtel writes:
The Valmadonna Trust is the finest private library of Hebrew books and manuscripts in the world. Now for the first time, the entire library of the Valmadonna Trust - some 13,000 printed books and manuscripts - will be on public exhibition,The exhibition will only be up through Feb 18. weekdays 10-5; closed on Saturday; and Sunday 1-5. More info is available at the following links.

AP article on Valmadonna Trust Library exhibit

16 page Sotheby's brochure on the Valmadonna Trust Library

Sotheby's Press Release on Valmadonna exhibit

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

New journal issues

Inaugural issue of Quntres:

A new issue of Alei Sefer:

At the roundtable/lunch discussion we had at AJS in December 2007, David Stern lamented the lack of journals devoted to the history of the Jewish book. The return of Alei Sefer and the emergence of Quntres are welcome developments.

Lecture at Harvard March 5: "Google and the 'Jewish' Question"

from Ann Blair's listserv that announces book history events in Boston and New England:

Thursday, 5 March, 4-6pm: Geoffrey Nunberg (School of Information,
Berkeley), 'Google and the "Jewish" Question: Conceiving the Space of
Discourse' Barker Ctr 133, Harvard. Sponsored by the History of the Book
Seminar of the Harvard Humanities Center.

for more information on the listserv, write to

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Summer Literary Seminars in Vilnius: Jewish Lithuania

I am passing on this e-mail that I received today:

Dear Professor Shear --

Apologies for writing out of the blue. I was hoping you would consider spreading among your colleagues and your students the information about the new program offered by the Summer Literary Seminars (SLS) in Vilnius: Jewish Lithuania.

Summer Literary Seminars (SLS) is an independent literary and cultural program, one of the world's largest and most dynamic, held each year in St. Petersburg, Russia, and Nairobi, Kenya, among other locales. (Here is the URL:

We are proud and delighted to be able to announce that our newest program, to be held in the capital city of Lithuania, Vilnius (Vilna) this summer (from 19 July to 2 August 2009), will be featuring a unique self-contained option: the Jewish Lithuania Program (for details please see:

Although including many facets of the rich Litvak heritage, there will naturally be emphasis on Yiddish language, literature, and folklore, and the literature, culture and history of the Eastern-European Jewish diaspora. In addition to the seminars and lectures offered by the program's director, Professor Dovid Katz, of the Vilnius Yiddish Institute, Vilnius University -- there will be a rich and variegated program of guest presentations, assembled and moderated by Prof. Katz (details at:

The program is conducted in English, but in the event of Yiddish speakers and writers enrolling, Prof. Katz will be adding workshops and seminars conducted entirely in Yiddish. In all, it will be a genuinely exciting, truly one-of-a-kind annual event.

The program is open open to all -- writers and non-writers alike.

Please don't hesitate to get in touch with me if you have any questions about this or any of our programs. SLS would be very glad to hear from you.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.


Mikhail Iossel
Associate Professor of English
Coordinator of Creative Writing
Concordia University
1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd. West
Montreal, Quebec H3G 1M8 Canada
(514) 848-2424x5210

Founder and Director
Summer Literary Seminars