Gift to Special Collections – Rare Book

Mondays get a bad rap. They’re thought to be dull and dreary days, something to merely push through, getting us one step closer to Friday. But some Mondays are filled with surprises, like today’s bright, sunny Monday which was interrupted by a sharply dressed man walking through the door of Special Collections with a remarkable treasure.IMG_16191

This very special book is a Rosh Ha’Shannah prayer book, printed in Amsterdam circa 1740-1741. Rosh Ha’Shannah is the Jewish New Year. It is celebrated over two days to mark the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve and is a time to look back at the mistakes of the past year and plan changes for the new year. Rosh Ha’Shannah prayer books’ main themes are repentance by man and judgment by God.

The donated prayer book’s binding appears to be leather and the delicate pages are printed with an older Hebrew script. It is a hand press book, meaning that the type was set by hand, and the paper was printed on a press powered not by machines but by workers at the printing press. Its publication would have been time consuming and possibly expensive.

The donor gave the prayer book in honor of his daughter, who graduated from James Madison University a few years ago with a degree in psychology. Generous donations like this truly make our day at Special Collections. This donation will certainly be a valuable asset to our collections and for future researchers!


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