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Rare Book Occasional – Scroll of Esther

By: Alia Levar Wegner, ARB Intern, 2017-2018

The inaugural post of the new Rare Book Occasional looks at the Archives and Rare Books Library’s two manuscript copies of the Scroll of Esther (Megillat Esther). Produced sometime in the 18th- and 19th centuries, these parchment scrolls illustrate the ritual importance of scroll reading in Judaism.

The Book of Esther holds a prominent position in the Jewish faith, as it is one of the Five Megillot, or five scrolls that mark particular festival or fast days in the Jewish calendar. This important Biblical book recounts Esther’s role in securing the salvation of the Persian Jews, and its recitation marks a day of joyous celebration for Jewish people. Esther scrolls are traditionally read twice during the festival of Purim, once in the morning and again in the evening.

Scroll of EstherScroll of Esther opened

Top:  Scroll of Esther (Ms. no. 22), before treatment,  Bottom: Scroll open to the names of Haman’s sons (Esther 9:7,9). Photos: Jessica Ebert

The materiality of the Scroll of Esther forms an important part of its religious significance. Early rabbinical writers composed rules regulating its production and public recitation. According to rabbinic tradition, the ceremonial Scroll of Esther can only be handwritten on parchment with ink using the square Hebrew script. Esther scrolls are also distinguished by their arrangement on a single dowel. These rabbinical prescriptions continued to influence the scroll’s material construction in more contemporary times, as illustrated by the Archives and Rare Books Library’s 18th– and late 19th-century Esther scrolls. In accordance with tradition, these scrolls are handwritten on vellum in the traditional script.

Featured here are images of one of the Library’s Esther scrolls that recently underwent conservation to repair small tears and damage to the parchment (Ms. no. 22). The scroll was rehoused on two dowels to enable the manuscript to be safely viewed.

Additional information about the conservation process can be found here.

Scroll of Esther

Scroll of Esther (Ms. no. 22), after treatment. Photo: Jessica Ebert

For more information on this and other items at the Archives and Rare Books Library, visit us on the 8th floor of Blegen Library, call us at 513.556.1959, email us at archives@ucmail.uc.edu, view our website at http://libraries.uc.edu/arb.html, and follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ArchivesRareBooksLibraryUniversityOfCincinnati.

Read UC Libraries 2016/17 Progress Report: Transforming People

progress report coverRead the University of Cincinnati Libraries 2016/17 Progress Report: Transforming People. In addition to providing an update on the news, events and stats from the previous academic year, the report celebrates UC Libraries’ most valuable resource – our people.

It is people who create a lasting impact on library operations, innovation and growth, and who implement and inspire lasting change. From essential library operations to innovative services, everything the Libraries has accomplished this past academic year is because of the hard work, dedication and creativity of the librarians and staff, as well as through collaborations and support of students, donors, faculty, researchers and university administrators.

The Progress Report is available online at https://issuu.com/uclibraries/docs/uclannualprogressreport16_17.

Questions? Request a print copy? Email melissa.norris@uc.edu

Happy Reading!

New Books in Oesper

See what new acquisitions have been recently added to the Oesper book collection.

Click here for the September-October 2017 list.

For more information about Oesper (books and historical apparatus devoted to the history of chemistry), click here.

 

 

 

 

 

UC Libraries Closed for Thanksgiving Holiday

  • thanks imageUC Libraries will be closed Thursday, November 23 and Friday, November 24 for Thanksgiving, with the exception of the Donald C. Harrison Health Sciences Library, which will be open Friday, November 24 from noon – 5:00pm. Regular library hours will resume Saturday, November 25.

This closing includes the Langsam Library 4th floor space, which will close Wednesday, November 22 at 6pm and re-open Saturday, November 25 at 10am.

Happy Thanksgiving!