The Esslingen Mahzor: A Treasure for the High Holidays

The JTS Library and the University of Amsterdam Make 13th-Century Manuscript Available Online

Press Contact: Beatrice Mora
Office: (212) 678-8950
Email: bemora@jtsa.edu


August 21, 2013, New York, NY

As the High Holidays approach, The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) is pleased to announce that the prized 13th-century Esslingen Mahzor is available online. A "winter mahzor" for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot, the Esslingen Mahzor was completed by the scribe Kalonymos ben Judah of Esslingen in 1290. The volume-historically significant as the earliest recorded Hebrew manuscript written in Germany-was separated at an unknown date, with only the second half available to scholars until a manuscript at The JTS Library was identified as the first half by Dr. Evelyn M. Cohen in 1990.

The known parts of this magnificent manuscript, held by The JTS Library and by the Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana at the University of Amsterdam, respectively, can now be examined together at esslingenmahzor.org. The website was made possible through a generous donation by Mr. George Blumenthal; the manuscript was photographed by Ardon Bar Hama. Read more about the manuscripts, and view the digital facsimiles.

"The Esslingen Mahzor-one of the outstanding medieval Hebrew manuscripts preserved anywhere-is an inspiration for all who see it," said Dr. David Kraemer, Joseph J. and Dora Abbell Librarian and professor of Talmud and Rabbinics at JTS. "Reuniting it online for the first time, we can again experience its full glory, allowing it to uplift us as the vision its artist and scribe focuses us on the true meaning of the High Holiday season."