Illuminated Hebrew Bible

The famous Biblia Hebrea, or Hebrew Bible, from the collection of the El Escorial is a significant manuscript for the history of biblical editions. The precious bible contains the 24 books of the Jewish canon and is embellished with marvelous floral and geometric ornamentation. It served the Spanish Rabbi Alfonso de Zamora, inter alia, as a resource during his collaboration on the Compultensian Polyglot Bible, considered to be the first printed multilingual Bible. The manuscript was presumably used later by Benedictus Aria Montanus  while he was directing the production of an edition of a polyglot bible in Antwerp at the behest Philip II. El Escorial’s Biblia Hebrea is an extremely interesting object of historical study and a testimonial to the origins of 16th century Spanish polyglot bibles.

detail of manuscript with Hebrew writing

detail of manuscript with Hebrew writing

detail of manuscript with Hebrew writing

detail of manuscript with Hebrew writing

detail of manuscript with Hebrew writing

leather bound book with clasps

Poems of Hafiz

This illuminated manuscript in hand-painted lacquer binding does not simply contain a collection, in a beautiful Arabic manuscript, of the verse of the celebrated fourteenth-century Persian poet Khwāja Šamsu d-Dīn Muḥammad Hāfez-e Šīrāzī, known as Hafiz—it is also an incredible work of art. The poems of Hafiz, many of them ghazals celebrating earthly and divine love, were so well-regarded that many copies of his Divān were created over the centuries after his death.

This gorgeous copy from the nineteenth century comes from the library of the renowned British bookbinder Francis Bedford, and was probably rebound and decorated by him. The lacquer covers feature a lush arrangement of hand-painted pink and yellow flowers on the outside and bouquets of irises on the inside.

spine of book Diwan Hafiz

A Century of Jewish Thought

One of only seven known copies worldwide (and the only in the state of Maryland) of a speech given by Baltimore’s own Henrietta Szold to the Baltimore section of the National Council of Jewish Women. It explicitly discusses Zionism by name more than a year before Theodor Herzl would go on to convene the first Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, in August 1897.


The Immigrant’s Handbook

A practical guide to American life for the benefit of recently arrived Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany.

Moï Ver’s Poland

Joining our collection of works by the important avant-garde photographer and painter Moï Ver (born Moses Vorobeichic, changed later to Moshé Raviv-Vorobeichic)—including all three editions of his visual study of the Jewish ghetto of Vilnius—is this remarkably rare collection of photographs. POLIN (Poland) features ten pages of stunning photographic plates of Jewish life in Poland during the interwar years, preceded by two pages of text in Hebrew. Found in only three other research libraries, the portfolio will be instrumental to the research of JHU Jewish Studies professor Samuel Spinner, who is studying the corpus of Ver/Vorobeichic, and to generations of Hopkins researchers to come.

moi ver polin portrait

Survivors’ Talmud

Known as the “Survivors’ Talmud” or “US Army Talmud,” this Talmud was distributed to Holocaust survivors in the US Occupied Zone in Germany. The title pages, illustrated in yellow and black, depict both the suffering and the hope for redemption of the Jewish people. The bottom shows life in the concentration camp and the top shows the yearning for a new Jerusalem. The images are attributed to the artist Grisha Ronsenkanz, who was active in the Displaces Persons camps, and later emigrated to Miami, where he taught both Hebrew and Jewish studies.

Yellow page with line drawings at top and bottom and red Hebrew lettering in the center