Festival Prayer Book from Corfu

This liturgical manuscript demonstrates the cultural diversity of the Jewish population in 17th-century Corfu. Apart from the Romaniote community, whose members mainly spoke Greek, the island also had an Italian Jewish community and Ladino-speaking Sephardim. This prayer book follows the Corfu rite, a variant of the Romaniote rite (Minhag Romania), and contains extensive instructions in Hebrew. Apart from Hebrew, it also has liturgical texts in Judeo-Greek, and Judeo-Italian. The ownership notes reflect the same cultural diversity, written by members of the Osmo and Gesua families in Hebrew, Italian and Greek.  

Festival Prayer Book

Corfu, 17th century
Gaster Hebrew MS 1462
Crop from folio 77a from Gaster Hebrew MS 1462, showing handwritten text in Italian and Hebrew.

Folio 77a

Death record of Camila Osmo Gesua in Italian inscribed by her son: 

“Two days before the day of the Saint (possibly the saint of the city), my mother Camila Osmo Gesua ceased to live. God rest her and made her pass to other sublime and eternal rests. The sorrowful children suffer.” 

Due giorni prima della festa del santo cessi di vivere mia madre Camila Osmo Gesua Dio la riposò a la fece passare al altri sublimi ed eterni riposi. Li dolente figliuoli [s]ofrono 

כאמלה אוזמו יהושע 

Folio 219b from Gaster Hebrew MS 1462, featuring a note in Greek mentioning the year 1698

This inscription in Greek is apparently by the scribe called Gesua [Joshua] Isaac, dated 1698: 

“The scribe of this book is Gesua Isaac … in 1698...” 

ο γραφευς του βιβλιου εινι Ιεσουιας ... Ισαακ ... ετος 1698 ... 

Flyleaf iia from Gaster Hebrew MS 1462, showing an inscription in Greek

The signature of the same Isaac Gesua in Greek: 

“Belongs to Mr Isaac Gesua” 

προς τον κυριον Ισαακ Ιεσουας