In recent months, we have been able to add many important materials to the Judaica collection. We acquired another set of letters (in Spanish, Hebrew, and Ladino) from the earliest days of the Amsterdam and Hamburg Sephardic communities in the 17th century (including one relating to the founding of the Sephardic community of Hamburg). These letters will be added to our existing collection of letters from the community of Amsterdam. A generous donor gifted us with a manuscript that likely also came from the Sephardic community in Amsterdam (or London): a poem written in Hebrew and Spanish and with dedication to “His Excellency Jacob Rodrigues Pereira.” This manuscript was added to our Miscellaneous Judaica Archive, a new archive created for smaller acquisitions like letters or small pamphlets that cannot sit alone on a shelf and so will be housed together (although each cataloged carefully so as to be easily found and used!). For more on the Sephardic community of Amsterdam and its languages, see a recent post on the Global Studies blog.
The same kind donor gave us a report from the first year of the Soncino-Gesellschaft der Freunde des jüdischen Buches [Soncino Society for the Friends of the Jewish Book], and a document exempting two Jews in Italy from wearing the requisite yellow badge in 1804, which will be added to our collection of materials relating Italian Jewish Community Regulations. Speaking of the Italian Jewish Community Regulations collection, a recent acquisition added a significant collection of printed broadsides and pamphlets to this collection, including a proclamation issued by Vincenzo I, Duke of Mantua, forbidding the baptism of Jewish children in 1588 and a 16th century document referring to the Jewish Ghetto at Rome shortly after its creation.
Three additional codices we acquired in recent months also have connections to Italy. A miniature decorated Sefirat ha-omer book previously owned by Rabbi Avraham Morpurgo indicates the counting of the days between Passover and Shavu’ot was created in 1836. A prayer book for Hoshana Rabba calligraphed and illustrated by Rianna Miriam and Aluvra de Segri from 1830 is a lovely addition to our collection of materials by and for Jewish women. And the most recent addition to our collection is a mathematical textbook including works by Avraham bar Hiyya ha-Nasi, a mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher of the late 11th and early 12th centuries in Barcelona, credited as one of the earliest to bring Arabic mathematical works into Europe. Our text includes ha-Nasi’s Yesode ha-Tebunah u-Migdal ha-Emunah, also known as the Encyclopedia, which attempts to synthesize Greek and Arabic mathematics. This manuscript will be a valuable addition to the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, which already has a strong history of science and mathematics collection, and is the second such textbook in our Hebrew manuscript collection.
In addition to newly acquired manuscripts, rare book cataloger Matthew Haugen’s excellent work to catalog some of our remaining uncataloged Judaica has made manuscripts much more easily accessible, including two manuscripts relating to the communities in Corfu: the first volume containing many recommendations attesting to the good character of Elia Cohen of Corfu, and a second containing documents referring to the threatened expulsion of the Jews of Corfu in 1572. Both manuscripts will be highlighted in an upcoming exhibition this Fall – for more on that, watch this space!
Other newly cataloged manuscripts include inheritance documents of the Levi family of Rovigo, a Latin text on Biblical archeology from the 18th century, a three volume collection of communal registers from the Ner le-maʼor congregation, and a collection of religious texts and commentaries produced in Monferrato in 1782. Beyond Europe, we have a handwritten list of Jewish families residing on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and in Brooklyn between 1892-1893, and a Kabbalistic treatise composed by Mordechai Abuzaglo in North Africa.
We look forward to welcoming scholars interested in studying this wide variety of newly accessible materials!