Blessings and Thanksgivings: The Jewish Prayer Book and its Early Appearance in the Northern Netherlands

Abraham Wolf Rosenberg

Research output: PhD ThesisPhD-Thesis - Research and graduation internal

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Abstract

SUMMARY Is it possible to identify the origin of the early modern printed Jewish prayer books from the Northern Netherlands? These editions are discussed in with their historical, cultural and literary context and special attention is given to the question whether the growth of a specific Dutch-Jewish liturgical tradition can be discerned. The research rom the period 1584-1700. The former is the year in which the first Jewish prayer book, containing obligatory prayers, was printed, even before Jewish settlement in this country had started. The year 1700 may be arbitrary, but is chosen as at the time Dutch Jewry had become more or less stabilized and their books had acquired international fame and attraction because the name Amsterdam had become a mark of quality for a free Jewish press. Special attention is given to the political, social and cultural context of the immigrants of Jewish origin who arrived in the Northern Netherlands and what kind of reception they may have expected from their Christian neighbours. To better understand the origins of the Jewish prayer books that were printed in the Northern Netherlands in Early Modernity a survey of the Jewish people and their prayers is provided in the first of the three parts in which the study is divided, starting in Antiquity. The second part discusses Jews and their prayer books in the Northern Netherlands, the third part analyses the treatment of the Jewish prayer book in bibliography, library practice and modern information practice. The Jewish diaspora, started in Antiquity, caused the development of many liturgical customs and liturgical rites, some of which would find their way to the Netherlands. The most important of these rites are summarily discussed and at the end of the study a checklist is provided providing the most important differences between Ashkenazi and Sephardi prayer books. Jewish immigration in the Northern Netherlands is discussed with special attention to the influence of contemporary political and religious conflicts on the settlement of these early immigrants, mostly of Iberian origin, especially the influence of the many local and ‘national’ controversies on the fledgling Jewish community, especially in Amsterdam. The first Jewish prayer books that were printed in the Northern Netherlands precede documented Jewish presence there. The third part of this study deals with the position of the Jewish prayer book in bibliography, conventional (analogue) library practice and modern digitised information practice. Although most Jewish prayer books preceding the 19th century were written in Hebrew, a number of Sephardi early modern editions appeared in an Iberian Jewish vernacular. The position of Hebrew in Jewish law is discussed and a full anthology of Halakhic sources, culled from early rabbinic literature, the codices and important more recent decisors on the subject is provided in the original Hebrew with an English translation. Special attention is given to eventual differences between Ashkenazim and Sephardim on the halakhic position of vernacular and Hebrew for Jewish prayer. The vocalisation of Bible texts in the prayers is one of the subjects to answer the question if the growth of a specific Dutch-Jewish liturgical tradition can be discerned.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationPhD
Awarding Institution
  • Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Supervisors/Advisors
  • den Hollander, AA, Supervisor
  • Wallet, BT, Supervisor
Award date24 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 24 Nov 2021

Keywords

  • Jewish prayer
  • Prayer books
  • Jewish history
  • Jewish settlement in the Netherlands

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