Tag Archives: Ladino

Wandering in the Stacks: the Americas, Spanish & Portuguese, and Christian Hebraists

As part of the follow up on the fantastic work that was done by Kelilah, Hannah, and Avinoam, I have been revisiting some of the interesting materials that they came across while working on cataloging our rare Judaica imprints.  Below is just a sampling of some of the wonderful materials that we have in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library:

  • It isn’t surprising, given the strong  history of Hebrew at Columbia since its inception,  that we have a copy of Judah Monis’s Grammar of the Hebrew Tonguethe first book to be printed using a significant amount of Hebrew type in the Americas. Due to lack of Hebrew type availability, Monis convinced Harvard to order the type specially from London (prior to this printing, students had to copy his textbook by hand for his class). Columbia’s copy was owned by someone (perhaps one of Monis’s students) as early as 1737 (see photo above), and there is a description of Monis and his work on the flyleaf facing the title page of the book, as pictured on the right.
  • An earlier book with American-Jewish connections is the Arte Hebraispano, printed in Lyon, France, in 1676.  The book’s author, Martin del Castillo, was a “calificador” (an expert consultant) for the inquisition for the Monastery of San Francisco in Mexico City.  Not having access to the necessary type in Mexico City, he sent his manuscript to Lyon for printing.  The author includes an apology, noting that, as the book was printed so far away, there were many errors made in printing. One might wonder just how many crypto-Jews there may have been in Mexico City to necessitate the expense of printing of a book detailing the Judeo-Spanish language.  Columbia’s copy had been previously owned by Monastery of San Cosme in Mexico City. [Many thanks to Dr. Francois Soyer, who explained to me the difference between an Inquisitor and a calificador.]
  • Another book comes from a century earlier.  Printed in 1523 by the famed Venetian printer Daniel Bomberg, this Sefer Ha-hinukh was missing some pages.  The book’s owner painstakingly copied the Hebrew type to fill in the missing leaves.  Can you tell which was printed and which was handwritten?
  • Jews traveled for many reasons: persecution, trade, marriage, to name just a few.  The owner of this Sefer ha-Rokeah (an ethical work, this one printed in 1505) apparently traveled often, but wanted to bring his book of ethics along on his journey.  At the end of the front matter, right before the text begins, the owner wrote Tefilat Ha-derekh, the Wayfarer’s prayer, as shown below.
  • We know from owners’ marks that the kabbalistic text, Ṿe-zot ha-sefer ha-Nefesh ha-ḥakhamah was owned by Ya’akov Yisrael Levenshtat.  Not much is known about Levenshtat himself, although about 85 of his books were included in the collection donated to Columbia by Temple Emanue-l in 1892. This book was bound in a piece of parchment that included a list of names. The front board (partially obscured by the bookplate given by Columbia to the Temple Emanu-el books) was the top of the document, reading (in Portuguese), Pauta dos Yrmãos, or List of Brothers.  It is a list of the founders of a “pious organization” from late 17th century Amsterdam. Some of the names mentioned include:
    • Ischac Nunes Carvalho
    • Rephael Nunes Carvalho
    • Eliau Gaon
    • Mordochay Lumbrozo

[Many thanks to Dr. Aron Sterk for his assistance with identifying this document.]

  • The last item, a Hebrew Bible, was probably owned by a Christian interested in studying the text in its original language.  The owner had a special binding made for the book to allow for his study.  Between each leaf of the original book, the binder inserted a much larger paper for comments and notes. This way, the owner could add his extensive glosses to the text without interfering with the original.  The binding nearly doubled the size of the book, as shown here.

Eight early American Jewish Newspapers, now available digitally!

I am pleased to announce that the following Early American newspapers are now available digitally through the following links.  With the exception of the American Israelite and American Hebrew and Jewish Messenger, all newspapers are freely available through the Historical Jewish Press website

Columbia is very proud to have been involved, with New York University and the New York Public Library, in helping the American Jewish Press to be added to the Historical Jewish Press’s corpus.  We look forward to continuing this collaboration in the years to come.

In English:
  1. Occident and American Jewish Advocate: http://web.nli.org.il/sites/JPress/English/Pages/The-Occident-and-American-Jewish-Advocate.aspx
  2. B’nai Brith Messenger: http://web.nli.org.il/sites/JPress/English/Pages/BBM.aspx
  3. Chicago Sentinel: http://web.nli.org.il/sites/JPress/English/Pages/Sentinal.aspx
  4. American Israelite: http://www.columbia.edu/cgi-bin/cul/resolve?clio11136600
  5. American Hebrew and Jewish Messenger: http://www.columbia.edu/cgi-bin/cul/resolve?clio11136586

In Ladino:

  1. La America: http://web.nli.org.il/sites/JPress/English/Pages/la-amirica.aspx.
  2. El Progreso: http://web.nli.org.il/sites/JPress/English/Pages/epo.aspx

In Yiddish:

  1. Morgen Zjournal: http://web.nli.org.il/sites/JPress/English/Pages/The-Jewish-Morning-Journal.aspx
  2. Die Wahrheit: http://web.nli.org.il/sites/JPress/English/Pages/Die-Warheit.aspx

Keep an eye on the Jewish Press in the USA section of the site, as there will be more newspapers added in the future!

New Electronic Resources: Hebrew-language journals and dictionaries

I am very pleased to announce that we have recently purchased some very important electronic collections for Jewish Studies research at Columbia.  Two collections of journal archives, including many Hebrew journals in the fields of art, Bible, history, folklore, philosophy, and many other topics, are now available through JSTOR via the Jewish Studies Collection and the Hebrew Journals Collection (click links for full title lists and coverage dates)

Additionally, Columbia users will now also have digital access to two important new Jewish language dictionaries; The Otsar ha-lashon ha-Spanyolit (Ladino) le-doroteha : milon maḳif hisṭori (Treasury of Ladino Language and Historical Dictionary) and the digital version of the  Yidish ṿerṭerbukh, which recently won the Association of Jewish Libraries’ Judaica Reference Award.

New Resource: Thesaurus of the Hebrew Book

I am pleased to announce that Columbia University Libraries has recently purchased the Vinograd Thesaurus of the Hebrew Book.  This database, available only on DVD, is a very-much updated version of the print edition (located in Butler Reference: R016.4924 V56).  This searchable database lists of all books printed in Hebrew characters from 1468-1948 (including Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino, and Judeo-Arabic).

The database lists title, author, publication information (date, place, and printer), and pagination, as well as the source for the identification of the book (sometimes this is a reference work; sometimes it is a physical library).  Additional notes, indicating language (if other than Hebrew) and previous auction sale information, are very useful.  It is a very good resource for finding and identifying Hebrew-script books, and, used in conjunction with the Bibliography of the Hebrew Book (available only from a Columbia computer), is invaluable for research in the Hebrew book.

The DVD can be accessed by contacting Michelle Chesner, Librarian for Jewish Studies (mc3395@columbia.edu; 212-854-8046).

Jewish Languages in the Age of the Internet

Jewish Studies resources can be found all over!  As noted on H-Judaic this morning, the latest edition of Language and Communication (31:2) is a special issue dedicated to "Jewish Languages in the Age of the Internet." 

For access to the electronic version of Language and Communication, see the CLIO record here.  Be sure to click on one of the links that indicate holdings "to the present" to be able to see this latest issue.

The contents are listed below:

1. Editorial Board / Publication information 
Page IFC

2. Jewish languages in the age of the Internet: An introduction
Pages 95-98
Sarah Bunin Benor   

3. Yiddish on the Internet 
Pages 99-106
Tsvi Sadan

4. The meaning of Ladino: The semiotics of an online speech community
Pages 107-118
Marcy Brink-Danan

5. Judeo-Greek in the era of globalization 
Pages 119-129
Julia G. Krivoruchko 

6. Shamis, halebis and shajatos: Labels and the dynamics of Syrian Jewishness
in Mexico City
Pages 130-140
Evelyn Dean-Olmsted    

7. Mensch, bentsh, and balagan: Variation in the American Jewish linguistic
repertoire 
Pages 141-154
Sarah Bunin Benor   

8. Shandler, J., 2006. Adventures in Yiddishland: Postvernacular Language &
Culture. University of California Press, Berkeley 
Pages 155-157
William Weigel

9. Nevo, N. and Olshtain, E., (Eds.). 2007. The Hebrew Language in the Era of
Globalization. Magnes Press, Jerusalem 
Pages 158-159
Yael Reshef    

10. Chetrit, J., 2007. Diglossie, hybridation et diversité intra-linguistique: études
socio-pragmatiques sur les langues juives, le judéo-arabe et le judéo-berbère.
Peeters, Louvain
Pages 160-162
Cyril Aslanov