Italian Festival Prayer Book

Gaster bought this manuscript in Milan during his honeymoon in 1890 – testimony to his tireless pursuit of manuscripts. It is an incomplete copy of a Festival Prayer Book (Maḥzor) written in Italy in the 14th or 15th century and contains the rite of the Jewish community in Rome. The manuscript has been badly water-damaged, probably during the Blitz. Stored in a basement in London, Gaster’s manuscripts were doused in water when the fire brigade put out a fire in a nearby building. This damage vividly illustrates the dangers manuscripts face over their long lives. It leaves libraries with a dilemma: is the manuscript important enough to use scarce resources to try to repair the damage?  

Italian Festival Prayer Book

Italy, 14th or 15th century
Gaster Hebrew MS 1434
Crop from folio 4a, Gaster Hebrew MS 1434, showing Moses Gaster's signature.

Folio 4a

Moses Gaster’s signature at the top of the page.

Folios 56b - 58a

Folios 56b-58a: beginning of prayers for the New Year (Rosh ha-Shanah) on the left side of the opening.