World’s oldest Jewish prayer book displayed at Jerusalem museum

1,200-year-old siddur penned in Hebrew is unveiled for first time at Jerusalem’s Bible Lands Museum.

September 18, 2014 18:14
1 minute read.

Jewish prayer book on display

Jewish prayer book on display

A 1,200-year-old Jewish prayer book (siddur), believed to be the oldest in the world, was unveiled for the first time at Jerusalem’s Bible Lands Museum Thursday.

The siddur, which originates from the Middle East and is 50 pages long, is written in Hebrew and still encased in its original binding, the museum said. It contains three main sections, including the morning service, liturgical poems, and the haggadah, read during the Passover seder.

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Through sophisticated carbon-test dating methods, it was determined to date back to the first half of the 9th century AD, dating back to the period of the Babylonian Geonim, who were the generally accepted spiritual leaders of the global Jewish community in the early medieval era.

During a ceremony Thursday evening, the relic was presented by its owner, Steve Green, chairman of the Museum of the Bible – and owner of one of the world’s largest private collections of rare biblical artifacts, known as the Green Collection – to the Speaker of the Knesset, MK Yuli Edelstein.

According to the museum, the prayer book will be displayed in the Book of Books exhibit, which displays the most important biblical texts ever to be seen in Israel in one show.

The prayer book was purchased last year by Green and will be permanently hosted at the Museum of the Bible, currently under construction in Washington DC.

Amanda Weiss, executive director of the Bible Lands Museum, described the prayer book as a “treasure of the Jewish people.”

“This is… evidence of a thriving and creative community and cultural life 1,200 years ago and we are honored to have it in our Book of Books exhibition,” she said. “We are happy for the opportunity to provide our visitors the privilege to see in person the ancient prayer book during the final month of the exhibition.”

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