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A Neglected (and Unpublished) Book by Ber of Bolechow: Report on a First Reading of Divre Binah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: