Category: Feature Articles


Libertà va cercando, ch’è sì cara: Kabbalah, Italian Vernacular and Judaism.

An Exhibition of manuscript fragments at the Modena State Archives. The seventh centenary of the death of Dante Alighieri (1285-1321) was celebrated with a wide range of events across Italy. The municipality of Modena in Emilia Romagna sponsored several initiatives on the occasion of its yearly edition of the Philosophy Festival. This time, from September 17 to 19, the festival was dedicated to the theme of “freedom” and...

Image 4 Detail of a miniature depicting St. Peter Martyr 1

Newly Discovered Fragments Found in the Choir Books of Saint Dominic’s Monastery Library in Bologna

The Order of Preachers was associated from its origins with the rise and growth of the largest universities: this is why Dominic of Guzmán (1170-1221) himself decided, a few years after the approval of the rule of the order by Pope Honorius III, to settle with his companions in Bologna, in the convent that would soon become a religious, intellectual and cultural landmark (image 1). The wealth of...


Fragments of a New Manuscript of Sefer Ha-Eshkol

A few months ago, I saw on the Ktiv website a description of two fragments of Tractate Berakhot of the Babylonian Talmud in the holdings of the Cambridge University library (Add. 474,2). My attention was drawn to this description because it contained no additional details, and it was stated that the Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts in the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem did not possess a...


Fragmenta Iguvina and Books within Books

The parchment fragments in Hebrew from the archive of the Biblioteca Comunale Sperelliana (Gubbio, Italy) are perhaps among the most impressive ones that our team has uncovered thus far while working on the project Fragmenta Iguvina.[1] The fragments are still in situ, as they were mostly used as external covers of large early printed texts which are now being preserved in the library’s archive (cf. images 1 and...

OFig.4-Ownership note of Marci Antonij Carratij. 0

Fragments of the Halakhot Gedoloth from a 12th c. manuscript Found in Bologna and Leipzig University Library bookbinding*

It is not rare that sheets from a manuscript dismembered in one town and reused in bookbindings became scattered across Italian provinces and regions, and even in other countries, sometimes hundreds or thousands of kilometres from the place in which they were reused. How can one explain the reasons why different sheets of the same original Hebrew codex are found in locations so far from each other?  One...


The Archive of Mauro Perani Tracing Precious Hebrew Fragments in Italy

Until the 1980s, scholars were little aware of the enormous scope of the corpus of Hebrew fragments preserved in Italy and of the importance of this heritage for medieval Jewish history. All this changed thanks to the enthusiasm and painstaking research of Professor Mauro Perani. This is the brief story of his discoveries of manuscripts and their documenting, which grew to constitute a large archive. “Books within Books”...


On the Alessandria folios

The European Genizah usually provides us with fragmentary texts – a few pages, or just a single folio that was torn out from a complete codex. These folios were cut up and damaged by bookbinders, who sometimes completely erased one side of the parchment. Only infrequently does the European Genizah yield a large quantity of folios from a single codex. An early copy of a commentary on the piyyutim,...


Hebrew fragment from Australia

Hebrew books within books often are found in the most surprising places and often reveal much more than their small size may indicate.  At times, full pages are revealed, within the bindings of early printed books; at other times only a tiny fragment is visible.   This month’s fragment is devoted to a stellar example of the latter. While working on the collection of Hebrew manuscripts and early printed books...

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