In time for Purim, Megillah dating from 1460s donated to Israel national library
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

In time for Purim, Megillah dating from 1460s donated to Israel national library

Scroll is believed to have been written by a scribe on the Iberian Peninsula in the 15th century based on Carbon-14 dating

A megillah dating from around 1465 has been gifted to the National Library of Israel and made available to view online, just in time for the festival of Purim.

The megillah (or scroll) of Esther, the heroine of the Purim story, is believed to have been written by a scribe on the Iberian Peninsula in the 15th century, prior to the Inquisition, based in part on Carbon-14 dating.

It is written in brown ink on leather in an elegant, characteristic Sephardic script, which resembles that of a Torah scroll.

The first panel, before the text of the Book of Esther, includes the traditional blessings recited before and after the reading of the megillah, and attests to the ritual use of this scroll in a pre-expulsion Iberian Jewish community.

It has now been gifted to the National Library of Israel (NLI) in Jerusalem, home to the world’s largest collection of textual Judaica, by Michael Jesselson, whose father Ludwig founded the International Council of the Library, then known as the “Jewish National and University Library”.

Recently arrived 15th century megillah (Courtesy: National Library of Israel, Jerusalem)

Torah scrolls and Esther scrolls from pre-expulsion Spain and Portugal are exceedingly rare, with only a small handful known to exist.

NLI curator Yoel Finkelman said the new addition was “an incredibly rare testament to the rich material culture of the Jews of the Iberian Peninsula” and “one of the few 15th century megillot in the world… The Library is privileged to house this treasure.”

 

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments