Baron Rothschild Presents 15th-century Manuscript to Jewish Seminary
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Baron Rothschild Presents 15th-century Manuscript to Jewish Seminary

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A 15th-Century Hebrew manuscript on vellum was presented to the Jewish Theological Seminary of America yesterday by Baron Edmund de Rothschild, head of the French branch of the noted Jewish family of bankers and philanthropists.

The baron presented the manuscript, considered to be among the top half-dozen of such rarities, to Dr. Louis Finkelstein, chancellor of the seminary, as a gesture of appreciation to the seminary. In making the presentation, the baron told Dr. Finkelstein how much he had been shocked by the fire which ravaged the seminary’s library last April.

The gift was made in response to the seminary’s action in returning to the Rothschilds in 1950 a superb 15th-Century manuscript. The seminary had received the manuscript on approval from a German dealer who had received it from a German soldier who had obtained it during World War II. The seminary discovered that the manuscript was the property of the Rothschilds and restored it to them. The Rothschilds presented it to Israel’s National Library.

The gift to the seminary was executed in Florence, Italy, and bears on the flyleaf the name of the scribe, Abraham Yehouda, and a date, 24 Adar, 5253, corresponding to March or April 1492. It is a liturgical work containing many poems, treatises on Jewish ritual, on astronomy and on the Jewish calendar. The un-numbered pages total between 600 and 700 with more than 100 full-page illuminations. Most of the vellum pages are still white.

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