15th century Jewish prayer book restored by National Library of Israel

The 376-page treasure took several months to restore due to the complicated procedure and its delicate condition.

The "Moskowitz Mahzor" (photo credit: NATIONAL LIBRARY OF ISRAEL)
The "Moskowitz Mahzor"
(photo credit: NATIONAL LIBRARY OF ISRAEL)
A 15th century Jewish prayer book, known as the "Moskowitz Mahzor," has been restored by the National Library of Israel and is now available for the first time digitally online.
The 376-page treasure took several months to restore due to the complicated procedure and its delicate condition; over previous centuries, attempts to fix the binding had made it difficult to open without causing damage.
The "Moskowitz Mahzor" (Photo Credit: NATIONAL LIBRARY OF ISRAEL)The "Moskowitz Mahzor" (Photo Credit: NATIONAL LIBRARY OF ISRAEL)
Several texts in Latin were found inside the binding, attesting to some attempts to strengthen the cover.
Many of the manuscript's illustrations have also faded over time.
The prayer book dates from the 15th century and was written by Joel ben Simeon, a 15th-century Jewish scribe and illuminator who worked in Germany and Northern Italy, and is best known today for the manuscript known as the Washington Haggadah.
It includes prayers following the traditional Jewish Roman customs for the entire Jewish year, including weekday prayers, Shabbath, festivals, Torah readings, the Passover Haggadah, Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) with Maimonides' commentary, various blessings, and rulings related to Jewish law.  It is contains many piyyutim (Jewish liturgical poetry), and slichot (Jewish penitential prayers.)
The "Moskowitz Mahzor" (Photo Credit: NATIONAL LIBRARY OF ISRAEL)The "Moskowitz Mahzor" (Photo Credit: NATIONAL LIBRARY OF ISRAEL)
The manuscript is also considered to be special due to the number of stunning illustrations and illuminations found throughout. These include images of rabbits, bears, fish, squirrels, and birds, as well as mythical creatures such as unicorns, and a diverse range of religious and astrological symbols.
Dr. Yoel Finkelman, curator of the Haim and Hanna Solomon Judaica Collection at the National Library of Israel said that, "For a long time we unfortunately could not offer physical access to one of the most important and beautiful manuscripts in our collection due to its fragile condition. Now, as a result of the wonderful work done by the team in our Conservation and Restoration Laboratory, the manuscript has been restored and digitized, opening access to the world for the first time."
The restoration of the "Moskowitz Mahzor" took many months due to its delicate condition (Photo Credit: NATIONAL LIBRARY OF ISRAEL)The restoration of the "Moskowitz Mahzor" took many months due to its delicate condition (Photo Credit: NATIONAL LIBRARY OF ISRAEL)
The "Moskowitz Mahzor" was donated to the National Library of Israel in 1970 by Henry and Rose Moskowitz of New York in memory of his parents, first wife, daughter and other relatives who were murdered in the Holocaust.
The restored version of the "Moskowitz Mahzor" is now available to view online at the National Library of Israel.