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Iakerson S. Catalogue of Hebrew Incunabula from the Collection of the Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Vol. 1. New York and Jerusalem. 2004. (10), LXXVII, 568 [נח] p.


As part of the Library's program to publish scholarly catalogues of specific collections, it gives me enormous satisfaction to present this comprehensive catalogue of incunabula. This monumental opus fully describes the 127 Hebrew incunabula in the collection - the largest in the world - printed beginning from the 1460s until 1501. After more than 100 years of collecting, and with the early vision of Judge Mayer Sulzberger, the Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary has assembled a collection of Hebrew incunabula that documents both Jewish printing and the historical importance of the Jewish texts. Sulzberger's significant donation in 1903 included 45 incunabula. This was followed by the acquisition of the Elkan Nathan Adler collection in 1923, which included sixty incunabula. The breadth of the collection showcases the unique qualities of Hebrew printing found first in Italy and later in Spain, Portugal and Turkey in the areas of Bible, Talmud, biblical commentaries, halakhah, prayer, linguistics, ethics, literature, history, philosophy and science. The introductory essay of this volume, the extensive scholarly entries, the photographs and the indexes bring this comprehensive collection to the scholarly community.

The Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary is the premier research library of Judaica and Hebraica in the Western Hemisphere. Its holdings consist of 375,000 volumes representing all areas of Judaica, Hebraica and related subjects that reflect the geographic diversity of Jewish settlement throughout history. The Library, renowned for its strength in Bible, rabbinics and mysticism, has materials from China, France, Germany, Italy, Persia, Spain and Yemen, among other countries. As the largest repository of Hebrew manuscripts in the Western Hemisphere, the JTS Library serves as a worldwide center for scholarly research. The Library is located in New York with a branch library at the Schocken Institute in Jerusalem, Israel.

The collections consist of items from the tenth to the twenty-first century in a wide variety of formats: manuscripts, printed books, periodicals, archival papers, sound recordings, microfilms, videos, cassettes, CD ROMs, and electronic databases as well as musical scores, photographs, prints, maps, ketubbot, megillot, slides, greeting cards, postcards, micrographs and broadsides.

Many individuals contributed to the creation of this volume. Our deep gratitude is extended to the author, Dr. Shimon Iakerson, Senior Researcher at the St. Petersburg branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Dr. Iakerson is the preeminent scholar in the field of Hebrew incunabula. Special thanks to Prof. Mayer Rabinowitz, former Librarian at the Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary, for being the initial motivation and inspiration behind this project. Without his vision of creating scholarly catalogues of the vast holdings of the Library's collection this entire project would not have come to fruition. It is my pleasure to express profound thanks to Prof. Shmuel Glick, Director of the Schocken Institute in Jerusalem, who served as managing editor, and to Mr. Israel Hazani, editorial secretary of the Hebrew publications of JTS, at the Schocken Institute, who served as editor. Both contributed greatly to the completion of this project. We are grateful to Dr. Emile Schrijver (Conservator Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana, Amsterdam University Library) for his English translation, and to Ms. Fern Seckbach for her meticulous copyediting.

We are indebted to the Rubloff Residuary Trust for supporting the research and publication of this catalog.

This publication enables the Library to fulfill one of its missions. It is part of a series of scholarly catalogs of specialized collections in the Library that will bring the rich collections at the Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary to the attention of scholars and the general public.

Naomi M. Steinberger
Acting Director
Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary


Annotation, Table of Contents, Foreword, Acknowledgements


Hebrew Incunabula
Jewish printing
the Jewish Theological Seminary of America

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