Yeshiva University’s manuscript collection, housed in the Mendel Gottesman Library’s Alfred Solomon and Evelyn H. Solomon Rare Book Room, includes documents of rabbinic and of historical interest. Many of the manuscripts are from the library of Louis Lewin (1868-1941), a rabbi in Posen and Silesia, and a prolific author who wrote extensively about the Jewish communities in those areas. One highlight of the collection is manuscript 85, the Breslau/ Auras Memorbuch.
Works on Jewish law, homiletics, ethics, philosophy, mysticism, commentaries on the Bible and Talmud, and correspondence may be found among the rabbinic manuscripts in the collection. These are described in depth in Hebrew, with abridged descriptions in English, in Osef kitve-ha-yad ha-rabaniyim: Sifriyat Mendel Gottesman, Yeshivah-Universitah (Rabbinic Manuscripts: Mendel Gottesman Library, Yeshiva University), by Joseph Avivi. The lavishly illuminated Prague Bible of 1488, by the scribe Mattathias ben Jonah of Laun, Bohemia, a gift of Ludwig and Erica Jesselson, is the jewel of the collection. In addition to its beautiful illuminations, the manuscript is valuable for its version of Rashi's commentary, which differs from that found in printed editions.
The historical manuscripts are a window into life in a variety of Jewish communities, particularly in Central Europe and the United States. Correspondence, pinkasim, yizkorbooks, communal and organizational records, cemetery ledgers, circumcision lists, diaries, seals, and amulets, exemplify the breadth of material in the collection.
Descriptions of both the rabbinic and historical manuscripts are available in the YULIS catalog.
Digital versions of some manuscripts were produced under the auspices of the National Library of Israel's manuscript digitization program, through a cooperative agreement between Yeshiva University and the NLI.
The digital images are intended for personal use and research only.