The Hebraic Section of the Library of Congress houses over 225 manuscripts; most of them in Hebrew but with a fair sampling of manuscripts also written in cognate languages such as Judeo-Arabic, Judeo-Persian, and Yiddish. It is a highly diverse collection, dating from the 11th to early 20th centuries and drawn from Jewish communities throughout the world. It is also a very eclectic collection, particularly rich in kabalistic material from Italy and Safed yet also offering material in everything from music and poetry to folk medicine and synagogue rites. Very little of the material is illustrated; the major exception to the rule being, in this case, a most spectacular exception indeed: the famous Washington Haggadah by Joel ben Simeon, an illuminated treasure from the late 15th century.
Lesser-known treasures in the collection are waiting to be discovered and researched. Amongst these we might mention a manuscript of the Diwan containing unpublished poems by Solomon ben Meshullam Dapiera (MS 154); a responsum concerning the kiddushin of two daughters, apparently in Lebanon (MS 31), and a pinkas of a synagogue in Mantua from the years 1739-1749 (MS 29). Those interested in Jewish folk culture will find rich materials (e.g., MSS 21, 35, 57, 182) as will those researching the modes of Jewish music in the Ottoman Empire (MSS 24; 144). Of special interest, perhaps, is a large autograph fragment by Moses b. Abraham Provençal (MS 147), a chapter from Hayyim Vital’s unpublished redaction of Shemoneh Shecarim(MS43), and an unpublished novel in Hebrew written just after the first Zionist Congress in 1896 (MS 77).
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Index of Languages (PDF, 1MB) Index of Names (PDF,1MB) Index of Places (PDF, 1MB) Index of Poems (PDF, 1MB) Index of Subjects (PDF, 1MB) Index of Titles (PDF 1MB)