Thursday, June 30, 2011

Doctoral and Post-Doctoral Positions in Germany for Work on the Masora

SFB 933

"Materiale Textkulturen. Materialität und Präsenz des Geschrieben in non-typographischen Gesellschaften" (

Project B4 (Jewish Studies)
Scholarly Knowledge, Drollery or Esotericism? The Hebrew Bible's Masora in its Various Material Properties

invites applications for two positions, one Post-Doc and One Doctoral stipend to begin Juli 1, 2011:

TVL E 13, 100% (Post-Doc)
TVL E 13, 65% (Dissertation Project)

This project deals with the Hebrew Bible's Masoretic Traditions as found in micrographic form in the Hebrew Bible codices from the High Middle Ages (masora figurata) as well as in non-figurative layouts in Hebrew Commentaries and Grammatical treatises.
It will concentrate on the area of text reception in its relationship to materiality and, thereby, focus on the question in which way handwritten artefacts effectively shape the meaning attributed to it through its material presence.

1. Post-Doc position (TVL E 13 100%):
The successful candidate will be working on the editing of the masora figurata in one Hebrew Biblical manuscript (digital edition of the text and its illustrations). In addition, the edition will be accompagnied by an indexing commentary and partial translation.

2. Doctoral stipend (TVL E 13 65%):
The successful candidate will be working on the masorah references found in Biblical commentaries and grammatical treatises as his PhD-project.

The integration of the project into the collaborative research center 933 and as well as into the research network of the Center for Jewish Studies demands regular attendance at Heidelberg. For further information, please contact:

Prof. Dr. phil. habil. Hanna Liss
Hochschule für Jüdische Studien, Landfriedstr. 12, 69117 Heidelberg
Tel: +49-6221-54-192-27 // Fax: +49-6221-54-192-09

Applications should be sent only via email (PDF)

New book by Marc Epstein: The Medieval Haggadah

Received via e-mail:

In his new work, The Medieval Haggadah: Art, Narrative and Religious Imagination, (Yale University Press, 2011), Marc Michael Epstein (Professor of Religion at Vassar College) explores four enigmatic, quirky, and interesting illuminated haggadot including the earliest-known surviving illuminated haggadah, the Birds’ Head Haggadah, likely made in Mainz around 1300, in which many of the faces on the human figures depicted throughout the work are replaced with those of birds; the Golden Haggadah, possibly from Barcelona, circa 1320-30, the iconography of which seems so indisputably “formed in the image and likeness” of contemporary manuscripts made for Christians; and two Spanish “siblings,” the Rylands Haggadah and its so-called Brother, made between 1330 and 1340 also possibly in Barcelona, which have historically been paired because of the similarity of their iconography and style.
The Medieval Haggadah is itself a lavishly illustrated book that presents the complete sequence of illustrations in each of the manuscripts discussed in full size and full-color, along with corroborating examples, for a total of 151 full-color illustrations.
Rather than viewing the art in these books as merely illustrating the text or its commentaries, Epstein understands these manuscripts to be visual commentary in and of themselves. He argues that they not only contain "midrashic details," but evince a strong midrashic mindset.
Though the importance of these manuscripts is universally acknowledged, they contain a number of elements which have been little explored. For instance, the Golden Haggadah includes forty-six distinct depictions of women, whose presence has been glossed over as mere "narrative detail," and the faces in the Birds’ Head Haggadah turn out not to belong to birds, strictly speaking, at all, but to composite beings of deep significance in Jewish tradition.
Epstein proposes some startling new solutions to long-unresolved questions concerning the meaning of the art contained within them. But he also engages in analysis of this art as a springboard to addressing broader issues in the study of Jewish thought, visuality, and culture, both material and intellectual.
The Medieval Haggadah: Art, Narrative and Religious Imagination,
Yale University Press, May 09, 2011 344 p., 8 1/2 x 11
151 color illus. ISBN: 9780300156669 Cloth: $65.00

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Digitization and New Resources

The Bibliography of the Hebrew Book is now available on-line (free access) at the website of the National Library of Israel (formerly Jewish National and University Library). See here

Click here for a link to the digitized Hebrew manuscripts at the Goethe Universität in Frankfurt am Main.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Call for Papers: "From Text(s) to Book(s)"

via SHARP:


An international and SHARP-sponsored conference 'From Text(s) to Book(s)'
21-23 June 2012
Nancy-Université, France

Deadline for proposals: 15 December 2011

I.D.E.A. (‘Théories et pratiques de l’Interdisciplinarité Dans les Etudes Anglophones’ / Interdisciplinarity in English Studies), the research group of the Nancy-Université English Department, will be hosting an international and SHARP-sponsored conference on the subject ‘From Text(s) to Book(s)’. This conference will provide a forum to discuss the ways in which texts are materialised for consumption by the reading public, both historically and in the contemporary context. Papers that adopt a historical approach to this question might discuss book production practices at specific periods or their evolution over time. Papers with a contemporary focus might deal with cases where the materialisation of texts does not necessarily involve production in the codex form, or discuss the impact that technological developments, like advances in digital printing and the emergence of devices such as Amazon’s Kindle Reader or Apple’s iPad, have had on the passage from text to ‘book’. Case studies of individual works and reflections upon fundamental theoretical questions relating to the making and materialisation of texts are equally welcome.

The full call for papers can be found on the web site that has been put in place for the event:

Confirmed keynote speakers for the conference are Espen Aarseth (Center for Computer Games Research, IT University of Copenhagen), Daniel Ferrer (CNRS, ITEM, France), David Finkelstein (Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, UK) and Claire Parfait (Université Paris 13, France).

Proposals of no more than 300 words, for 25-minute presentations, should be sent to David Ten Eyck and Monica Latham (, before 15 December 2011. Articles based on conference papers will be considered for publication in the Book Practices & Textual Itineraries series published by the Presses Universitaires de Nancy:

Conference organisers:

Nathalie Collé-Bak, Monica Latham & David Ten Eyck With the support of SHARP (the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing)


Call for Papers for "The Future of Holocaust Testimonies"

via H-Judaic:

The Future of Holocaust Testimonies No. 2=20 An International Conference and Workshop
19-22 March 2012, Akko, Israel

Call for Papers=20

Statement of Purpose

The Holocaust Studies Program of Western Galilee College and the = USC Shoah Foundation Institute announce a second international = interdisciplinary conference and workshop on The Future of Holocaust = Testimonies to be held on 19-21 March 2012.


Holocaust survivors and their testimonies have been, for many = years, key factors in Holocaust memorial culture. As survivors pass = away, critical focus will inevitably move to the legacy they leave =
behind: especially in the forms of written, audio and video testimonies. = Scholarly work on survivor testimony emerges from the full spectrum of = university disciplines including history, literary analysis, = linguistics, cultural criticism, psychology, neuroscience, sociology, = etc. The rich and varied and corpus of testimonies requires the = collaborative effort of researchers across disciplines to enable us to = hear the voices of survivors articulated through their testimonies.=20

The first Future of Holocaust Testimonies Conference was held on = January 2010. It brought together scholars from eight countries who = presented new approaches to studying and working with testimonies. The = upcoming Future of Holocaust testimonies no 2 conference will add = another layer to this endeavor.=20

The Conference

In order for the conference to make an impact on Holocaust research and = benefit the public discourse as well, one day will be open to the = public, while two days will be for researchers only.=20

The conference will be conducted in English. The open public day will be = conducted in English and Hebrew with simultaneous translation.
Speakers will be accorded full hospitality.=20

We welcome proposals for papers that address the conference theme, = including, but not limited to, the following topics:
=B7 Methodological issues
=B7 Oral testimonies, memoirs, life stories, diaries=20
=B7 Video testimonies
=B7 Early and late testimonies
=B7 Different approaches to testimony analysis
=B7 Place of testimonies in Holocaust research
=B7 Historical value of testimonies
=B7 Testimonies reflecting culture and identity issues
=B7 Age and gender issues
=B7 Authenticity, verification and false memories=20

Please send a one page proposal and a CV to: =

(Doctoral candidates please add a letter of recommendation from your =
Deadline: September 5 2011

October 31, 2011: Judaica Europeana Digital Humanities Workshop

via H-Judaic:

Digital Humanities and the Study of Jewish History and Culture A day of workshops at the British Library exploring new research = opportunities created by Judaica Europeana. London, 31 October 2011

Judaica Europeana is making available online a = vast archive of books, documents, visual and audio material related to = Jewish history and culture. The increased availability of digitized = primary sources is paving the way to a radical change in research, = teaching and publishing. This goes in tandem with the development of = tools that support scholars in their work of discovering, annotating, = comparing, referring and illustrating. This day of workshops will = provide an opportunity to introduce new resources and tools that are = becoming a standard part of the toolbox of historians and other = scholars. The workshops at the British Library will be of particular = interest to scholars and post-graduate students in Jewish studies and = European history.
Please make a note in your diary. Programme and registration available = from September 2011 on from. Email: =

Friday, June 10, 2011

Kestenbaum auction

Via e-mail:

Kestenbaum & Company's spring auction of Fine Judaica will be held on Thursday, June 23rd at 3:00 pm. The sale will take place at the company's gallery at 242 West 30th Street in New York City with viewing beforehand from June 19th through June 22nd.

Highlighting this auction will be Part II of the historic Cassuto Collection of Iberian-related Books and Manuscripts. This extensive sale also features many fine early printed books from the Delmonico Collection, a celebrated library of fine Hebrew books formed by the late New York-based collector, William Roth. The sale also includes books recently de-accessioned from a European institutional library.

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

Friday, June 3, 2011

Forthcoming Book

The Hebrew Book in Early Modern Italy
edited by Joseph R. Hacker and Adam Shear
University of Pennsylvania Press, scheduled for publication Fall 2011

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

New book: Treasures of the Valmadonna Trust Library

Flyer received via e-mail:



Treasures of the Valmadonna Trust Library provides a complete checklist of the Trust’s nearly 250 incunables and deluxe Hebrew books printed on vellum and coloured paper, the first published record of Valmadonna holdings in these most prized areas of Hebrew printing. The volume also includes original bibliographic studies by Isaac Yudlov of the National Library of Israel, Jerusalem, Dr A. K. Offenberg of the Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana, Amsterdam, and Brad Sabin Hill of the I. Edward Kiev Judaica Collection at George Washington University, Washington, DC.

The catalogue and studies are accompanied by over 60 colour plates, detailed indexes, and a bibliography of specialist literature on early and deluxe Hebrew books.

Treasures of the Valmadonna Trust Library: A Catalogue of 15th-Century Books and Five Centuries of
Deluxe Hebrew Printing.
Edited by David Sclar.
Hardcover, 168 p., illustrated.
$ 60.00 (US)

For information, write to the Librarian at
Valmadonna Trust Library
Fairport, 7 Turner Drive
London NW 11 (U.K)


Two Prague Haggadahs. Facsimile of the 1556 edition on vellum and the 1590-1606 [?] edition on paper. Introduction by C. Abramsky. 1978.

Grace After Meals (Birhat Ha’Mazon). Facsimile of the 1514 Prague edition. Introductions by C. Abramsky and B. Nosek. 1984
The Pesahim Codex (Babylonian Talmud). Facsimile of the Provence c.1447 manuscript. Palaeographic description by M. Beit-Arié; introduction by E. S. Rosenthal. 1984.

The only dated medieval Hebrew manuscript written in England (1189 CE) and the problem of pre-expulsion Anglo-Hebrew manuscripts. By M. Beit-Arié; appendices by M. Banitt and Z. Entin Rokéah. 1985.

Seder keriat shema al hamitah: Matteo Zanetti and Comino Presigno, Venice 1593. 1986.

Hebraica (saec. X ad saec. XVI): Manuscripts and early printed books from the Library of the Valmadonna Trust. An Exhibition at the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York. By B. S. Hill. 1989.

The Alphabet of Ben Sira. Facsimile of the Constantinople 1519 edition. Intros by J. Hacker and A. M. Haberman; foreword by J. Dan. 1997

The Hebrew Manuscripts in the Valmadonna Trust Library. Edited by B. Richler. 1998.

Birkat Ha-Mazon (Grace After Meals). Facsimile of the N. Italy, ca. 1476 edition. 2004.

THE VALMADONNA TRUST LIBRARY, based in London, is the most valuable private collection of early, rare and deluxe Hebrew printing in the world.

Among the greatest treasures of the Library are the incunables, books produced in the 15th century, just after Gutenberg’s invention of movable type. The Trust holds over 70 volumes - or excessively rare fragments - printed in Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ottoman Turkey before 1500. Among these are some of the very first Hebrew books; books printed by the fabled Soncino family in their native town; and leaves of the Arba‘ah Turim printed by Iberian refugees at Istanbul in 1493, the first book in any language printed in the Islamic world.

The earliest printers issued special copies of their books on vellum (parchment), a convention of fine printing maintained by their successors over the centuries. The Trust holds some 27 Hebrew books printed on vellum from the 15th and 16th centuries, the oldest from before the expulsions of Spanish and Portuguese Jewry, more than 20 volumes from Italy, and others from Ottoman Greece and Turkey, Bohemia, the German lands and Holland. Some of them are the only deluxe copy of the book in existence.

Following the lead of Renaissance master-printer Aldus, the Christian publisher Bomberg produced deluxe Hebrew books on blue paper early in the 16th century. From Venice the elegant vogue spread to other presses in northern Italy. The Trust holds the world’s largest collection of deluxe Hebrew printing on coloured papers, especially of the 16th century, including the first edition of the Zohar on blue (Mantua, 1558).

The collection holds books on coloured paper, or in red ink, from the bibliophilic revival in Amsterdam and Central Europe in the late 17th and 18th centuries, as well as fine exempla of books on blue or ‘bluish’ paper from Eastern Europe in the early 19th century, and books and serials on coloured paper issued later in India and Baghdad.

In the annals of Hebrew booklore only one other collector - Rabbi David Oppenheim of Prague (1664-1736), whose library is preserved at Oxford - was known to cultivate this specialty of deluxe Hebrew printing. Among the Valmadonna copies on vellum and coloured paper are rare and unique liturgies of diverse European and oriental rites, editions of the Passover Haggadah, and ‘occasional poetry’ for weddings and in honour of royalty.

Article on Orphan Books and Digitization

Not sure the headline matches the article content (not digitizing is not exactly the same as "locking away" the material, in the humble opinion of your blog manager), but here is an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Baranovich Auction

Received an announcement of an upcoming auction via e-mail:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011 at Congregation Gvul Yaabetz in Brooklyn, NY.
Digital version of our upcoming auction catalog.
Baranovich Auction Staff
Tel: +1-718-578-4150