Rare medieval Hebrew prayer book to go on display in Israel
The prayer book, Nuremberg Mahzor, is one of the largest surviving medieval texts in the world.
A rare Hebrew manuscript written in 14th century Germany is going on display for the first time, just before the Jewish New Year, Israel Museum officials said Wednesday.
The text, called the Nuremberg Mahzor, is one of the largest surviving medieval texts in the world. Written in 1331 in Germany, the prayer book remains mostly intact - only seven of its original 528 leaves are missing. Officials said the 1,042-page manuscript will be on display at the Israel Museum starting next Tuesday, days before Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year holiday, which begins Sept. 18.
The book has 22 illuminations inlaid with gold and silver.
The text includes one of the largest collections of handwritten Ashkenazi, or northern European, prayers and liturgical poems. About 100 have never before been published. Also, rabbinical commentary is printed in the margins.
The manuscript is one of the heaviest surviving texts from the period, weighing more than 57 pounds (26 kilograms). It probably took about one year to complete, said Michael Maggen, the head of the paper conservation laboratory at the Israel Museum.
"Mahzor" is Hebrew for holiday prayer book.
The Nuremberg Mahzor got its name from its home for more than 300 years - the Nuremberg municipal library in Germany. The manuscript was originally commissioned for private study and synagogue use by a Jewish patron and was most likely used by the Nuremberg community after 1499. Sometime during the 19th century, 11 leaves were removed from the prayer book by Napoleon's army, museum officials believe.
The Israel Museum spent about six months restoring the text after it was stored for 50 years in the Schocken Institute for Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. Salman Schocken, a German-Jewish publisher and book collector, acquired four of the missing leaves in the 1930s after he fled Nazi Germany. He received the Nuremberg Mahzor as post-World War II restitution in 1951 for property confiscated by the Nazis.
Six leaves remain missing, and one is in a private collection.
The exhibition is the latest at the museum's Shrine of the Book, where the Dead Sea Scrolls and other ancient manuscripts are displayed.