Rosh Hashanah back in history

September 6, 2021 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Just in time for the High Holidays, the National Library of Israel, in collaboration with the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, has launched the first three instalments of a new series entitled “A Look at the Jewish Year“, providing insights into the Jewish calendar and holidays through the lens of the National Library of Israel’s world-leading collection of Jewish manuscripts, books, printed materials and more.

Exceedingly rare items showcased in the films include a nearly thousand-year-old Jewish calendar found in the famed Cairo Geniza; the 13th century Worms Mahzor, which includes the first written example of Yiddish and survived the Holocaust; and an 18th century manuscript known as Sefer Evronot featuring an array of stunning illustrations. More modern items, such as an early 20th-century poster of a traditional Sukkot holiday meal, and flags waved by children on Simchat Torah are also presented.

Each of the approximately 15-minute clips features a conversation between Dr. Yoel Finkelman, curator of the Haim and Hanna Salomon Judaica Collection at the National Library of Israel, and Rabbanit Nechama Barash of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, as they take a look at some of the rare items in the National Library’s collections and discuss the texts and questions surrounding them.

The first film focuses on the Jewish calendar, including its development from ancient times until the present; the second film focuses on the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashana) and the sacred Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur); and the third instalment discusses the festive holidays of Sukkot and Simchat Torah at the end of the holiday season.

The project also includes source sheets with questions and links to additional materials that can be used to help lead group discussions and activities or enriched personal reflection.

The Haim and Hanna Salomon Judaica Collection at the National Library of Israel includes the vast majority of Hebrew and Jewish books, journals and magazines ever published; thousands of Hebrew-letter manuscripts, as well as digital and microfilm copies of some 80,000 such manuscripts from collections across the globe; the world’s largest collection of Jewish music; and hundreds of personal archives of leading figures.

Cherished treasures in the Collection include Maimonides’ commentary on the Mishna in his own handwriting; some of the earliest Talmudic manuscripts and fragments; the world’s largest collections of ketubot and haggadot; Hebrew books dating to the advent of the printing press; archival collections of leading rabbinic figures; and the Gershom Scholem Library – the world’s foremost resource for the study of Kabbalah, Jewish Mysticism and Hasidism.

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