Saturday, November 28, 2009


Even Hebrew ones!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Jewish scholarship in Israel

In the past twelve hours I've seen two critiques of the field of Jewish studies in Israel. One is a blog entry by an American-trained professor at an Israeli university. The other is a journal article by an American-trained professor (who spent time studying in Israel) at an American university (which is also in decline). Still sorting out my own thoughts on the matter. Most of my academic training has been in Israel, and that part of it that was not served mostly to show me that I needed to get back here (though some of it was very broadening). Some things really need a combination of approaches. To mention a pet peeve of mine - the study of medieval Halakhic manuscripts could be much more interdisciplinary than it is now. But jumping into that kind of endeavour without a sound grasp of more traditional Talmud philology is a waste of time.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sotheby's scrolls

Sotheby's have an auction coming up of Judaica. It includes several manuscripts. At least one is from the Montefiore collection. But one of the major items that they are touting is a medieval Spanish tittled Torah scroll. The catalogue claims that it was written in the circle of R Shem Tov ibn Gaon. The entry is quite long and interesting.

There are also several Esther scrolls. The most important one is from 1564, and is apparently the earliest decorated Megillah. It was written by a woman named Estellina bat Menahem. Yup, a female scribe.

And two megillot illustrated by Shalom Italia.

Cool stuff. Catalogue is here.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Vatican catalogue

They really did it! The complete catalogue of Hebrew manuscripts in the Vatican collections is now available for download, here.


Readers of this blog should by now be familiar with the Erfurt manuscript of the Tosefta (digitized in full here, and transcribed here). You may also have heard about the 'Erfurt Treasure', which was on exhibit in several museums over the past few years. You may not have known, as I didn't, that Erfurt also boasts an old synagogue, possibly one of the oldest in Europe.

The Erfurt Treasure is now going on permanent display in the newly restored synagogue, and to celebrate, the city is holding a three day conference. The programme is here. Most of it is in German and of mostly local interest. But Prof Jordan Penkower will be there, speaking about 'The Ashkenazi Pentateuch Tradition as Reflected in the Erfurt Hebrew Bible Manuscripts - Text, Section Divisons, Layout of the Songs'. Prof Penkower has been doing work on medieval Ashkenazic Pentateuchs and Torah scrolls (some of which belong to the Erfurt collection, usually in Berlin but at least some will be on display in the synagogue), and he has discovered some fascinating things. If you're in the area, go and hear him (and Avraham David, who will be speaking in Erfurt in December). If not, you'll have to wait until he publishes his research. At the rate that he publishes, I don't expect that to be very long.