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Books about Hebrew calligraphy



Compiled by Roger Shlomo Harris  © 1994-2012
The writing by hand of Sifrei Torah, Tefillin, Mezuzot and Megillot is a fundamental and continuing part of Judaism. Here are details of a few books which may whet your appetite for the visual pleasures resulting from the skilled and artistic use of kosher vellum, quill and hand-made ink.
This list originally started as primarily a list of illustrated books. Then I discovered other books which contained literary comment. The two categories are mingled together in alphabetical order.
Hebrew letters are also modified to form hechshers, trade marks and monograms, the latter frequently showing great ingenuity in their punning and artistic content. Monograms are used to adorn benschers and invitations to weddings and simchahs. Around one hundred examples may be seen on my web-page 'Making The Alphabet Dance' at
The hechsher of the Grand Rabbinat de Marseilles
Hebrew scribal talents have made only limited inroads in the design of hechshers. These are the trademark-like designs which are printed on food labels, in newspapers and magazines and their function is to indicate that a Jewish regulatory body, usually a Beth Din kashrut authority, has adjudged the food, product or service to be kosher and in conformance with Jewish laws of ritual purity. Images of more than 600 hechshers may be seen on my web-site at but only a few incorporate designs which display any artistic verve.
To the details of several books shown below, I have added a small illustration copied from the contents of each book. Copyright © in each instance belongs to the respective owner and not to me.
If you are left-handed and have been discouraged from attempting Hebrew calligraphy then please try again. The Hebrew alphabet is a beautiful gift to left-handed calligraphers. I am left-handed and I found that writing left-to-right Latin-letter calligraphy was too difficult for my hooked writing style and there was always the problem of smudging. In contrast, Hebrew letters seem to flow from the left-handed pen with ease and the result always looks immaculate. If you are writing with a metal nib then you will probably want to regrind the point to suit the angle at which you hold the pen. Two small grindstones (about 2 inches long), one suitable for 'household' sharpening and the other a smooth Arkansas stone will simplify the operation. Your honed Hebrew calligraphy skills are likely to be in demand at your synagogue for inscribing certificates and other items.
My thanks for additional information go to Brenda Kaldenbach-Holtz.


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Books about Hebrew Calligraphy
Aberdeen Codex of the Hebrew Bible, The
Author: Cecil Roth © 1958
Publisher: Oliver & Boyd for the University of Aberdeen.
Format: 15.3cm W x 23.2cm H. 40pp + 25 monochrome photographs.

Ancient Scrolls - Introduction to Archaeology
Author: Michael Avi-Yonah.
Publisher: Palphot Marketing Ltd., 10 Hahagana Street, Herzlia, Israel. GG Jerusalem Publishing House © 1994.
ISBN: 0-304-29336-9.
Format: Softback. 17.0cm W x 23.8cm H. 80pp. Index.
Comment: Many good-quality colour illustrations.

Hebrew letters cut in stone
Animal World in Jewish Thought, The
Author: Rabbi Shlomo Pesach Toperoff   ©1995
Publisher: Jason Aronson, 230 Livingston Street, Northvale,
     New Jersey, NJ07647, U.S.A.
ISBN: 1-56821-439-1
On page 77 Rabbi Toperoff writes:
"We are also informed that the skins of birds and the hides of
animals were used by Jews for writing, and bird skins were used for the
making of scrolls and tefillin. Skins of fish were also used for parch-
ment. Indeed the Talmud discusses whether the skins of fish could be
used for scrolls or tefillin (Shabbat 108a)."

Art of Illuminated Manuscripts, The
Author: J.O. Westwood.
Publisher: Bracken Books, Princess House, 50 Eastcastle Street, London W1N 7AP, U.K.
ISBN: 1-85170-177-X
Format: Hardback. 23cm W x 33cm H. Colour illustrations.
Comment: The book is a collection of several illustrated manuscripts, each having its own series of page numbers. Only two plates include Hebrew script. They are:
  1. Facsimile of Samaritan MSS of the Pentateuch, (part of Samaritan and Hebrew Biblical Manuscripts)
  2. Spanish Hebrew Pentateuch. (part of 'Hebrew Pentateuch of his late Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex').

Art of Hebrew Lettering, The
Author: L.F. Toby
Publisher: Rolf Schuster, 97 Allenby Street, Tel Aviv, 61300, Israel. (C)1987.
ISBN: not stated.
Format: Softcover booklet. 48pp. 21.9cm W x 15.9cm H.
Comment: Contains twenty-six scripts including 'cursive.'

Auction catalogues as a source of reference
The catalogues produced by major auction houses such as
Christies and Sothebys to accompany Hebraica and Judaica
booksales are a fairly inexpensive way to acquire splendidly
illustrated books about hand-written and early printed work.

Auctions of rare Judaica books and manuscripts and works of
art are held about twice a year by Baranovich Judaica Auctions
which is linked to Yeshiva Ahavas Torah Baranovich, Jerusalem.
A catalogue, fully illustrated in colour and printed on glazed paper,
cost=£15, may be obtained from Baranovich.


Auction catalogue: Auction of Important and Rare Judaica Books, Manuscripts and Works of Art.
Auction: 16 June 1999, New York. Promoted by American Friends of
     Yeshiva Ahavas Torah Baranovich, Jerusalem.
Format: Softback. 219mm W x 279mm H. pp x + 108.
Comment: Mono and colour photographs of title pages and text,
     handwritten script, signatures. The catalogue also includes
     an illustration of the contemporary work of Chasya Leshinsky
     of Jerusalem who is a scribe and [miniature?] painter of outstanding
     talent. Her Scroll of Esther appears richly decorated and illustrated.

Auction catalogue: The Sassoon Collection of Highly Important Hebrew Printed Books
Auction: 30 June 1970. Sotheby & Co., London W1.
Format: Hardback. 189mm W x 254mm H. pp iv + 76.
Comment: Monochrome photographs and illustrations.

Auction magazine:
Christie's Magazine, November 2005
    Pages 108-109 contain illustrations of six items from the Schocken Collection of Hebrew manuscripts. The text refers to the collections of Salman Schocken (1877-1959) and David Sassoon (1880-1942), and also to the sale on 15 November 2005 of "Important Hebrew Manuscripts from the Schocken Collection" in New York.

Bar Mitzvah - Its Observance and Significance
Authors: Rabbi Yaakov Salomon and Rabbi Yonah Weinrib.
Publisher: Mesorah Publications.
ISBN: 0-89906-574-0
Comment: Not about calligraphy as such but it contains a substantial
    quantity of hand-lettered artwork by Rabbi Yonah Weinrib.

Beis Yosef script web-site

Benzaquen, Rabbi Joseph
An example of the work of Rabbi Benzaquen is at

Beshuakh Yishuv Haaretz
Specimens of cursive hand-writing of eminent rabbis and scholars.
Author: Shmuel HaCohen Weingarten
Publisher: Mossad Harav Kook (C) 1987.
ISBN: not stated.
Format: 29.4cm W x 22.7cm H. x + 59 pp. 53 monochrome photographs.

Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana - Treasures of Jewish Booklore
Editors: A. Offenberg, E. Schrijver, F. Hoogewoud.
Publisher: Amsterdam University Press
ISBN: 90-5356-088-2
Format: Hardback. xii + 135 pages. Index. Bibliography. 23.4cm W x 29.2cm H.
Comment: A beautifully rendered book printed on coated paper with colour illustrations and detailed text. Even the dustjacket is a treat.

Note the aleph-lamed. This combined letter was used when printing and writing 'Eloha,' 'Elohim,' etc, in the 19th century but is hardly used nowadays

Book of Hebrew Letters, A
Author: Mark Podwal.
Publisher: Jason Aronson Inc., 230 Livingstone Street, Northvale, New Jersey 07647, U.S.A.
ISBN: 0-87668-317-0
Format: The pages are not numbered. 18.4cm W x 23.4cm H.
Comment: Each of the twenty two letters of the Hebrew alphabet is illustrated (approx 1cm W x 2cm H) and accompanied by a drawing or a cartoon. A final section contains a short paragraph about each letter.
Tzade: one of the 22 beautiful letters drawn by Mark Podwal

The Book of Hebrew Script: History, Palaeography, Script Styles, Calligraphy & Design
Author: Ada Yardeni
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 1584560878

Book of Letters - Sefer Otiyot
Author: Rabbi Lawrence Kushner © 1975, 1990.
Publisher: Jewish Lights Publishing
    Telephone: +1 (802) 457 4000.
    Facsimile: +1 (802) 457 4004.
ISBN: 1-879045-00-1
Format: Hardback. 80pp. 16.0cm W x 23.5cm H.

Books not about calligraphy
Books which, regardless of their title, are not about calligraphy or lettering.
The Aleph Bet Book
This book is a translation of the aphorisms of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. There are twenty-two chapters.
The Alphabet of Ben Sira
The Alphabet of Ben Sira is an anonymous medieval work consisting of 22 aphorisms, each linked to a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and set in the form of a story. The text may be found in 'Rabbinic Fantasies' (ISBN:0-300-07402-6) where it is printed in English. From page 171, Ben Sira is talking to his mother, the daughter of Jeremiah: ".... as he [Jeremiah] composed a book arranged in alphabetical acrostics, the Book of Lamentations, I too will compose a book in alphabets. So do not be amazed by my words."
The Alphabet of Rabbi Akiva
From 'Kaddish,' by Leon Wieseltier, (ISBN: 0-330-37237-8), page 36: "Sometime in the seventh or eighth century, many centuries after Rabbi Akiva, there appeared a pseudo-epigraphic work called Otiyot De'Rabbi Akiva, or The Alphabet of Rabbi Akiva, an early and extravagant production of the mystical imagination in Judaism. This short but dense work considers, letter by letter, the cosmological and eschatological properties of the Hebrew alphabet, and what it reveals about the godhead."
A similar work is The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet, by Rabbi Michael Munk, Artscroll Mesorah, ISBN:0-89906-193-1.

Celebration of Judaism in Art, A
Author: Irene Korn.
Publisher: Todtri Productions Ltd, PO Box 572, New York, NY 10116-0572, U.S.A.
Facsimile: +1 (0)212-279 1241.
Format: 22.7cm W x 31.6cm H. Hardback. 128pp. Index
ISBN: 1-880908-69-7
Comment: A book about Jewish art generally. It contains a large number of illustrations of calligraphic work spanning several centuries and of fine quality. Examples include work on vellum, paper, metal, paintings.

Tapestry detail

Cost of writing a Sefer Torah
These prices were quoted in respect of a Sefer Torah
intended for Yeshivas Tiferes Yaakov, Gateshead, U.K.
Participatory contributions were invited as follows:
     Sedra, £300
     One Column, £75
     Half Column, £:40
Source: Jewish Tribune, London, 28 May 1998, page 10, col. 4.

dustjacket cover: Out Of The Midst Of The Fire  by Philippa Bernard

Czech Scrolls
Out Of The Midst Of The Fire by Philippa Bernard tells the story of the rescue of 1,564 Sifre Torah from a disused synagogue near Prague and their subsequent arrival at the Westminster Synagogue in London in 1964.
ISBN: 0-9518708-5-8


Everyone's Got A Story - 41 short stories from a new generation of Jewish writers
collected and edited by Ruchama K. Feuerman
Publisher: The Judaica Press © 2008.
Format: hardback, 16.2cm W x 23.7cm H, 412 pages, glossary.
ISBN: 978-1-932443-93-6
Comment: In "Hallowed Hands - A Scribe's Life", page 317, a first-person account of technical and personal aspects of the work of a sofer are presented as told to Hilary Spirer Leeder.

(First) Jewish Catalogue, The
Editors: Richard Siegel, Michael Strassfeld, Sharon Strassfeld.
Publisher: Jewish Publication Society of America.
ISBN: not stated.
Comment: Contains a chapter with detailed commentaries on several
    aspects of Hebrew "scribal arts." See pages 182-209.

From The Ends of the Earth - Judaic Treasures of the Library of Congress
Author: Abraham J. Karp.
Publisher: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc.
© Library of Congress.
ISBN: 0-8478-1450-5
Format: Hardback. xxiv + 376pp. 22.5cm W x 30.5cm H. Colour and monotone illustrations.
In the brachot opposite, note the spelling and form of the letters in 'Adonai' in lines 1, 4 and 7.

Handbook of Hebrew Calligraphy, The
Author: Cara Goldberg Marks © 1990
Publisher: Jason Aronson, Inc.
ISBN: 0-87668-798-2
Format: Hardback. 22.1cm W x 28.5cm H. xiii + 191 pages. Line drawings, monochrome photographs. Index
Comment: An excellent how-to-do-it resource.

Hebrew Book, The, - An Historical Survey
Editor: Raphael Posner and Israel Ta-Shema
Publishers: Leon Amiel Publishing, New York and
     Keter Publishing House, Jerusalem. © 1975
ISBN: 0-7065-1389-4
Format: Hardback. x + 225pp + 4. 23.5cm W x 31.7cm H.
Comment: Encyclopaediac contents.

Hebrew Calligraphy - A Step By Step Guide
Author: Jay S. Greenspan.
Publisher: Schocken Books. (C)1981.
ISBN: 0-8052-3720-8 hardback, 0-8052-0664-7 paperback.
Format: Paperback. xx + 166pp. 15.0cm W x 22cm H. Monotone
    photographs, line drawings.
Comment: A comprehensive book describing equipment and techniques,
    suppliers, library and museum resources, societies (USA),

Hebrew Letters - First Hand ™

Dark lines define the outline of the animal. The lines are composed of tiny Hebrew letters which form words and a narrative. The technique is known as micrography.

Hebrew Manuscript Painting
Author: Joseph Gutmann.
Copyright holder: Not stated. Published 1978.
Publisher: George Braziller, New York.
ISBN: 0-8076-0891-2
Format: Softback. 20.2cm W x 28.0cm H. 119pp. Colour and monochrome illustrations.
Comment: This book is a visual treat and it is well worth acquiring for the illustrations and the text, but do not expect to learn too much about the internal layout of a book. It is a publishing muddle.
The book begins with detailed 'Acknowledgements' and follows with an 'Introduction' which contains the book's 19 monochrome illustrations and relevent text. Then follows a 'Selected Bibliography' [of sources of monochrome illustrations?] Then a list of the 25 (sic) colour plates (actually the book contains 40). Then a list of the 19 monochrome illustrations. Then the 40 colour plates. Confusion!

Hebrew Manuscripts: A Treasured Legacy
Author: Binyamin Richler
Publisher: Ofeq Institute. (C)1990.
ISBN: 0-87306-505-0.
Format: Hardback. 166pp. Colour and monotone illustrations.
Comment: Beautiful illustrations.

History in Their Hands - A Book of Jewish Autographs
Author: Harvey Lutske (C) 1996.
Publisher: Jason Aronson, 230 Livingston Street, Northvale,
      New Jersey 07647, U.S.A.
ISBN: 1-56821-290-9
Format: Hardback. 22.5cm W x 28.5cm H. xx + 323pp. Monochrome illustrations.
Comment: The book does not contain an index. However, the Contents page lists all 130 autographs under descriptive headings. The single-page Glossary contains only seventeen headwords and I wonder whether it was perhaps intended for another book and another context. Samples of handwriting include Hebrew block and script. The sharpness of the monochrome photographs could have been much better and many of the writing samples look as if they were reproduced from poor-quality photocopies.

Illuminated Pirkei Avos, The
Written, illuminated, painted by Rabbi Yonah Weinrib
Publisher: ArtScroll, 2002.
Format: Hardcover. 9" W x 12" H. Leatherette quarter-binding

Incunabula is a Latin word meaning birthplace or origin and it refers to the first books printed in Europe using moveable type, i.e. those printed between circa 1455 and 1500 CE. Many were Hebrew bibles and prayer books and were produced by Jewish printers using Hebrew letters and were beautifully printed and illuminated. For more information and links to web-sites which display Hebrew incunabula please visit my page at

Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts, The
Jewish National and University Library
P.O. Box 34165, Jerusalem 91341, Israel.
Telephone: +972-2-6585022
Facsimile: +972-2-6511771

From the IMHM web-site: The IMHM has undertaken the task of collecting microfilm copies of all Hebrew manuscripts extant in public and private collections. Over 60,000 reels, representing more than 90% of known Hebrew manuscripts are available for the use of scholars and interested laymen. Adjoining the IMHM are the Department of Manuscripts of the JNUL housing 10,000 original MSS and the Hebrew Palaeography Project which is conducting research on the codicology and palaeography of medieval dated Hebrew MSS.

Jewish Manuscript Illuminations - a book of postcards
Publisher: The British Library, London, U.K.
Format: 17.6cm W x 12.2cm H. Softback. 30 colour postcards on art paper.
ISBN: 0-7649-0045-5.
The postcards depict some of the best illustrations in the British Library's collection of Hebraica and Hebrew manuscrips: Duke of Sussex German Pentateuch (c1300), Golden Haggadah (c1320), Barcelona Haggadah (c1350), Lisbon Mishnah Torah (1471-1472), Lisbon Bible (1482), Leipnik Haggadah (1740).
See also the British Library's "Turning The Pages" rendering of the Golden Haggadah

Jewish Time Line Encyclopedia, The
Author: Mattis Kantor ©1989
ISBN: 0-87668-229-8
Publisher: Jason Aronson
The entry for the year 5235 (CE 1475) records:
"The new invention of printing was used for Jewish books
Less than thirty-five years after the invention in Germany of movable type for printing, Rashi's commentary on Chumash was printed in Reggio di Calabria (Italy) on the 10th Adar. It was the first Jewish book to be (dated and) printed. The Tur was printed on 28th Tammuz, in Piove Di Sacco (Italy)."

Jewish World, The
Editor: Elie Kedourie
ISBN: 0 500 25066 9
Publisher: Thames & Hudson, 1979.
Comment: 317 pages of pictures and text plus an index. There are sufficient high-quality colour and monochrome illustrations of Hebrew letter calligraphy to inspire even the most jaded calligrapher. A beautiful book.

Ketubot, books about

Kulmus Publishing Catalogue
Click here for a catalogue of books by Mordechai Pinchas (Marc Michaels).

Mishnas Sofrim
A translation [into English] of the Mishna Berura dealing with the
laws of writing the Ashuris script (as used for writing Sifrei
Torah, Mezuzot and Tefillin). Each letterform is clearly
illustrated (about 3.5cm W x 4cm H) and annotated with detailed
instructions on individual pen strokes.
Author: Yona Vogel.
Publisher: Jewish Learning Exchange.
ISBN: not stated.

Neginot and leining
Neginot, ie. cantillation marks. These are the small strokes (not vowel points), e.g. loops, dots, angles and curves which are written above and below letters in the Chumash and Prophets. They serve to aid one's understanding of the text and as a type of musical notation used when leining (chanting) in Hebrew.
Two reference books are:
  • Guide To Jewish Knowledge, A
    Authors: Chaim Pearl and Reuben Brookes. (C)1985.
    Publisher: Jewish Chronicle Publications.
    ISBN: 0-900498-02-1
    Comment: This is a comprehensive general reference book and it contains
         two pages of information about Neginot. See pages 74 and 75.
  • Concordance of the Hebrew Accents in the Hebrew Bible
    Author: James D. Price
    Publisher: Edwin Mellon Press, Lewiston, New York, U.S.A. 1996.
    Format: Five volumes.
    ISBN: 0-7734-2395-8
    Comment: Rabbi Jonathan Klein,, UAHC College
         Education Department, writing in Jewish Shul Music e-mail newsletter,
         14 June 1999), stated: "All of the Pentateuchal signs are found
         in volume one. They are listed in order of appearance."

Sources of information about leining and about a leining e-mail discussion group moderated by Rabbi David Grossman are at:

See also 9½ Mystics - The Kabbala Today, (Rosh Milim) below in this section.

9½ Mystics - The Kabbala Today
Author: Rabbi Herbert Wiener. © 1969
Publisher: Collier Books.
LCCN: 67-12906

Page 244 [Rabbi Wiener, together with Yaacov, is visiting
Gedaliah, a scribe, in Jerusalem.]:

...."I looked over the rows of books on the upper shelves of a buffet-like piece of furniture that occupied one side of the small room; it was the standard library of an Orthodox Jew: a set of the Talmud; midrashim and other classical commentaries on the bible; commentaries, legalistic works of later rabbinic authorities; and a special Pentateuch [Tikkun Soferim] used by scribes for their copying work.
"It takes a sofer about a year to write a Torah, and the going price these days is about three or four thousand dollars," Gedaliah said as he saw me looking at the scribe's Pentateuch. "Would you like to see the parchment on which I'm working?" He opened a drawer at the bottom of the buffet and took out some sheets of white parchment with gleaming, freshly inscribed black letters, decorated with the fine lines called tagin. It is the clarity of the letters, plus the accuracy and elaboration of these tagin that mark the work of a good sofer.
I expressed surprise at the length of time it took to write a Torah. " My grandfather would take much longer," Yaakov replied. "Each time he came to the Name of G-d, he would first go to the mikveh and purify himself....".

Page 295: This period of his [Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook] life had produced some of his most interesting essays and meditations, including one called "Rosh Milim," the "Begining of Words." It was a kabbalistic discourse on the alphabet, vowel signs, and musical notations used in the reading of the Torah, quite incomprehensible to most readers. Rabbi Kook had not meant it to be a popular work, calling it simply a bit of writing inspired by "memories of the Holy Land in the diaspora."
Page 328: The other book is a small pamphlet printed in London. Its Hebrew title is Rosh Milim, The Beginning of Words. It is a meditation on the esoteric meanings of the Hebrew alphabet, vowel signs, and musical trope.
[ The author refers to Rabbi Kook's booklet as 'Rosh Milim.' A reprint which I have is entitled 'Rosh Milin.']
[ Musical notations are also known as neginot, qv.]

Orphan Objects
Facets of the textiles collections of the Joods Historische Museum (Jewish Historical Museum,, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Author: Daniel M. Swetchinski in collaboration with
     Julie-Marthe Cohen and Stephen Harton
Format: Hardback. 248 pages. 23.5cm W x 29.0cm H. Bibliography. Indexes.
ISBN: 90-400-9953-7
Comment: This beautifully produced book is about textiles and its
     illustrations show several examples of embroidered lettering.

People and The Book, The
The Background of Three Hundred Years of Jewish Life in America
An illustrated and annotated list of illuminated manuscripts, rare books, authentic documents and related materials, compiled by Joshua Bloch, for a tricentennial exhibition at the New York Public Library, October-December 1954.
Publisher: New York Public Library © 1954
LCCCN: 54-13246

Picture History of Jewish Civilization
Editors: Dr Bezalel Narkiss (Editor-in-Chief), Dr Samuel Abramsky, Prof. David Flusser,
     Prof. Abraham Schalit, Dr Michael Ziv.
Publisher: Chartwell Books, Inc.
ISBN: 1-55521-100-3.
Format: Hardback. 24.8cm W x 31.0cm H. 252pp. Index. Bibliography.
Comment: Many examples of lettering mostly from illuminated Haggadot, Ketubot
     interspersed throughout the text from page 93 to page 185.

Planets, Potions and Parchments - Scientifica Hebraica from the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Eighteenth Century.
Author: B. Barry Levy.
Publisher: Jewish Public Library © 1990.
ISBN: 0-7735-0791-4.
Format: Softback. 21.6cm W x 28.0cm H. xii + 140pp. Glossary.
      Bibliography. Index. Colour and monochrome illustrations.

Hebrew letters relief-cut in stone.
From a tombstone in the Prague Ghetto.
Prazské Ghetto - The Ghetto of Prague
Authors: V. Sadek, J.Sedinova
Publisher: Olympia
ISBN: 80-7033-148-8
Format: Hardback. 159 pages. 21.7cm W x 31.6cm H.
Numerous examples of embroidered, printed, painted and stone-cut lettering.

Rashi script:
  1. Rashi did not design or use 'Rashi' script. It is a printing font and it acquired its name after being used for setting Rashi's commentaries by Daniel Bomberg around 1520, several centuries after Raschi's death.
  2. An alphabet style-sheet is available in London from
    Hebrew Book & Gift Centre, q.v. above.
  3. Rashi Script Workbook (K'tav Rashi)
    Publisher: Torah Umesorah Publications
    ISBN: none
    Available from:
    1. K'tav Rashi, Israel.
    2. J. Lehman, England.
    3. Torah Umesorah Publications, U.S.A.
This example of Rashi script was printed and published in 1859 by Adalbert della Torre in Vienna. Source: Machzor - Festgebiete Der Isralieten Fur Yom Rashon V'Sheni Shel Pesach

Rashi - The Man and His World
Author: Esra Shereshevsky © 1982, 1996
Publisher: Jason Aronson, 230 Livingston Street, Northvale,
      New Jersey 07647, U.S.A.
ISBN: 1-56821-892-3

Here is a paragraph from page 218. The numbers refer to extensive
chapter notes (not shown here).
"Rashi's commentaries contain references to three kinds of writing
materials: a kind of paper made from 'grass,' probably papyrus; (61)
parchments on which, Rashi says, pens made a scratching noise that
sounded like 'ken-ken' (62) and wax tablets on which one wrote with
a stylus.(63) Rashi describes a kind of primitive paper clip (atbi) as
a small wooden stick with a notch cut into its top, into which the
papers were inserted.(64) Lines were drawn with a special ruler.(65)
One writing tool used by scribes was a piece of iron with a point split
into two parts, like the nib of a pen.(66)"

The Scribe - A Novel
Author: Uri Raskin
Publisher: Jerusalem Publications, Jerusalem, Israel. 2005
ISBN: 0-9761862-5-X.
Comment: A novel about a dysfunctional family whose son Dov is taught STaM calligraphy by an elderly man, Ezra, who is known as Ezra the Scribe.

Signes Hebraiques - Calligraphies & Typographies
Author: not known.
Publisher: Jacques Damase, Edition 61, Rue de Varenne, 75007,
    Paris, France. [This firm may have moved to another address]

ISBN: not known.

The 613th Commandment
The Mitzva to write a Sefer Torah.
Author: Rabbi J. Simcha Cohen
Publisher: Jason Aronson Inc.
ISBN: 1-56821-249-6
Format: vi + 163pp. Paperback. 15.2cm W x 22.2cm H.

The Story of Aleph Beth
Author: D. Diringer.
Publisher: Lincolns-Prager (Publishers), London.
Copyright by World Jewish Congress, London, 1958.
Format: Paperback. 195pp. 12.2cm W x 18.3cm H. Line illustrations
     and monochrome photographs.

A World Passed By - Great Cities in Jewish Diaspora History
Author: Marvin Lowenthal © 1961.
Publisher: Joseph Simon / Pangloss Press.
ISBN: 0-934710-19-8
Format: xxix + 498pp, index, glossary, bibliography. Monochrome
      illustrations. Hardback. 16.4cm W x 24.1cm H.
Here is an excerpt from page xxvii of this book:
"Jewish illuminators have occasionally left us their names.
But in the case of an unsigned Hebrew manuscript, even if
invariably signed by a Jew, it is hard to judge whether the
miniatures and marginal decoration came from a Jewish
brush. Among the known limners are Joseph Bar Ephraim
who "copied" the Haggadah (Cod. Hebr 200) of the Munich
Staatsbibliotek; Solomon Halevi Bar Buya, responsible for the
miniatures of a Pentateuch (MS. II, 17) of the Leningrad
Public Library; Joseph Ibn Hayyim of Corunna, who il-
lumined a Bible now in the Bodleian Library (Cod. 2.322,
Kennicott No. I); Joshua ben Abraham Ibn Gaon of Soria
(Bodleian, Cod. 2.323, Kenn. No. 2); Shemtob ben Abraham
Ibn Gaon likewise of Soria, who painted a Bible now in the
Sassoon Collection (London); Elisha Cresques who worked
on the Farchi Bible (also in the Sassoon Collection); Jaffuda
Cresques who may have painted the figures on his Atlas
(Bibliothèque National, Paris, Spanish MS. No. 30);
Abraham Vidal, remembered for his Privileges of Majorca
(Palma, archives of town hall); and Abraham ben Judah Ibn
Hayyim of Loulé, Portugal, who presumably practised the art
of illumination, for he wrote a book on it (in Portuguese
with Hebrew characters) in 1262."


From an article in the [London] Jewish Chronicle for 18 February 2000, page 19:
Dr Eric Ray, Torah Scribe, gave a demonstration of the art of a sofer.
He said "The vellum needs extensive preparation and must be from the
skin of an animal that has died naturally. He also pointed out that only
a limited number of verses may be written each day. This was to ensure
perfection, and to allow the scribe to meditate on the holy words."


According to Bible Basics - An Introduction & Reference Guide to the Five Books of Moses, edited by Jerome S. Hahn and written by Rabbi Pinchas Winston,
ISBN: 0-87306-748-7, page 26:
"Technical Aspects of the Five Books of Moses
Even with modern printing techniques, a Sefer Torah (Torah Scroll), if it is to be legally certifiable according to Jewish law, must always be written according to the laws received by Moses from G-d at Mt. Sinai. This usually amounts to about two thousand hours of concentrated effort, and the use of over one hundred writing quills. In total there are 304,805 letters (composing 79,976 words) in the entire Torah, written on sixty sheets of parchment."

For the record, Heshey Pincus, an American scribe, was due to give
a demonstration "of the majesty and holy art of Torah writing"
in Chigwell, Essex and Hendon, London NW4
on Sunday 14th March '99.
Source: Jewish Tribune (London), 4th March 1999, page 13.

• Web-sites which discuss and/or display Hebrew scripts:
• Vaad Mishmereth STaM: detailed discussion of Halachah, techniques and pitfalls concerning the scribal integrity of Torah scrolls, Tefillin and Mezuzos.
• Torah Scribe: Descriptions of the laws pertaining to the production of Sifrei Torah, Tefillin, Mezuzot, Megillot, illuminated manuscripts & ketubot and the parchment (klaf) on which they are written.

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Sofrei STaM
Several of the scribes listed here were found in MavenSearch Newsletter:


Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Berger, NJ U.S.A.. Information and illustrations; Hebrew alphabet (Ashurit), Torah reading, Mezuzah, Tefillin, Sefer Torah, Megillah.

Mezuzah information

Rabbi Chaim Klein
Taleisim, Tzitzit, Telfillin, Mezuzot. Computer checking on premises.
P.O. Box 92237, Norwood 2117, South Africa.
Telephone: +27 (0)11 485 4059
Facsimile: +27 (0)11 485 2304

Mezuzah Doctor
Flushing, NY, U.S.A.
Hasofer Inc., 321 Kingston Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11213, U.S.A.

The Jerusalem Scribe
The Jewish scribal arts (sofrut): about Torah scrolls, tefillin, mezuzot, megillot, and Jewish calligraphy and illumination. Experts in Torah restorations. Recognised craftsmen and authorities producing and inspecting sofrut for over 25 years. We will answer your questions.

This web-site, written mostly in Hebrew, provides information about writing a Sefer Torah in addition to readings from it. A series of indexed images show the full text, i.e. Bereishit to Devarim, of a Sefer Torah scroll written by Elihu, a professional Torah scribe. There is also a page of information in English about displaying Hebrew on the computer screen.

All-female mezuzah writing group in Minsk, Belarus
An article (Man's world no more by Yulianna Vilkos, 25 January 2006), about the group may be read on the JTA News web-site.

Jen Taylor Friedman, Soferet
Megillot, Ketubot, Bar and Bat Mitzvah, Benscher cover designs.
U.S.A. and U.K.

Mezuzot from Eretz Yisrael
Information on purchasing certified Kosher Mezuzot written by expert scribes in Eretz Yisrael.

Aviel Barclay, Soferet
Sefer Torah, Megilah, Ketubah, Torah Repairs, Workshops, Amulets.
Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


Gevil Institute of Jerusalem
Sifrei Torah, Tefilin and Mezuzot. Sells gevil (parchment) in single sheet and bulk quantities. The Institute preserves and supplies genuine Gevil (GAWIL) Torah scrolls. The full, un-split hide is mentioned (in Talmud Bavli) as the exact material that Moshe placed into the Ark of the Covenant. This is 100% in accordance with the legal requirements listed by the Rambam and Talmud Bavli, using salt, flour and m'afatsim.


Provides Torah scroll, tefillin, mezuzah and megillah sales and maintenance. Also related Judaica needs. Based in Milwaukee, U.S.A.

Sefer Torah Centre
London, U.K., and Israel. New and second-hand Sifrei Torah, Haftarot, Tefillin,
Mezuzot and Megillot. Various styles of writing by qualified expert scribes.

Rabbi Aaron Shaffier, Sofer Stam
Los Angeles, U.S.A. Store: Torah Scrolls, tefillin, mezuzot, checking, repairs.

Yehuda Malkiel, Sofer STaM

Mordechai Pinchas, Sofer
The web-site is a rich source of information and illustrations. If you are learning Hebrew calligraphy on your own, i.e. without the benefit of a teacher, then spend a few hours reading and absorbing the web-site pages.
Click here for a catalogue of books by Mordechai Pinchas (Marc Michaels).

Sieger Sofer STaM
Ron Sieger, Certified Sofer STaM of Los Angeles. Sales and repairs of Torahs, Megillahs, Mezuzos, and Tefillin. Other services offered.

Rabbi Mordechai Danneman
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.
Telephone: +1 770-454-8154
All STaM requirements, new and used Torah Scrolls

Tefillin HaMekadesh
Tefillin produced in the Kabbalistic tradition by an expert scribe in Ofra, Israel.

HaSofer Moshe Flumenbaum
Certified Scribe
10 Rechov Straus, Jerusalem 91430, Israel.
or P.O. Box 43055, Jerusalem 91430, Israel.
Telephone: +972 (02)538 3701 ext 101
Facsimile: +972 (02)538 8645
Store hours: Sun-Thu 10:00 - 18:00. Fri 10:00 - 13:00

Rabbi Benjamin Cohen
Certified & registered Sofer STaM/Scribe/Baal Mageah, rabbi, artist providing Torah scrolls, tefillin, mezuzos, megillos, illuminated kesubos & manuscripts, repair, restoration & preservation of scrolls, parchment, quills, ink, computer & manual checking of STaM, STaM educational sessions.
Telephone: Israel: +972 54 753 5711; USA: +1 212 981 4000.

Avraham H. Borshevsky
Artist & Certified Torah scribe
Studio: 43 King George Street, Jerusalem, Israel.
Telephone / facsimile: +972 (0)2-623 3943
Mobile: 055-938155
Haggadot, Megillot, Ketubot. Hebrew and English calligraphy, gilding, painting.

Michael Jacobs
Sofer STaM, Stum Sofer, Illustrator and Restorer

Rabbi Aryeh Schechter
Sofer Stam
New York, USA.
Telephone: +1 718-972 4003

Rabbi L. Benarroch, London, U.K.
Authorised Scribe
Telephone: +44 (0)20-8203 7809.

Sofer Stam Yere-Shamayim, Sifrey-Tora, Mezuzos and Megilos.
Telephone: +972 (0)3-965 2830

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Located in Israel.

Ruth Stern Warzecha

Judith Joseph
Chicago, U.S.A.
Ketubot, family trees, oil/tempera paintings, watercolors, botanical paintings, illustrations, invitations, painted glass, wedding albums.

Rosh Hashanah cards, invitations.
Florida, U.S.A., and mail-order.

Brenda Kaldenbach, Binah Scribal Arts, The Netherlands
Graphic designer and illustrator within the Jewish community in Amsterdam.
Bar and bat mitzvah, ketubot.

Elaine Adler
Ketubot, designs, artwork, lettering.

Ya'akov Boussidan
Hand-made books, calligraphy.

Shoshannah Brombacher
Address: New York state, U.S.A.

Peggy Davis (USA):

Kalman Freidus
Address: New York state, U.S.A.
Tefilin, mezuzot, megiloth, sifrei Torah (Torah scrolls), ketubot.

Shuki Freiman

Ardyn Halter, Israel.
Represented in Israel and the United Kingdom

Amy L. H. Heilveil - The Skilled Quill.
Medieval-style documents, particularly wedding documents (e.g. Ketubot); inspired by illuminated manuscripts of past centuries.
Address: U.S.A.

Address: London, United Kingdom.
Telephone/facsimile: +44 (0)20-8482 4882

Marsha Kay
Address: United Kingdom.
Telephone: +44 (0)20-8551 0169

Irene Konig
a.. Beautifully rendered floral illustrations and English, Hebrew and Spanish prose on a wide range of subjects:
b.. Talleisim with hand-lettered quotations:

Sarit Miller Ben-Meir
Colourful and unusual rendering of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet

Izzy Pludwinski, Israel.

Nicola Smallwood
Address:United Kingdom.
Telephone: +44 (0)1923-255 595

Cynthia Garinther's mammoth list of calligraphy resources

Several Hebrew calligraphers are represented at ...
American Guild of Judaic Art: [frames site]
Click on Artists' Gallery, click on Graphics/Calligraphy

Hebrew monograms may be seen on my web-site at

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Machzor LeYamim Noraim – Yom Kipur "Hotmenou le hayim"
Here are some illustrations from a richly illustrated Machzor L'Yom Kippur. Translated by Abraham Bliah. Illustrated by Moshe Ariel (calligrapher and expert in the field of medieval book arts) and by Yitshak Pressburger (painter). Minhag: Orthodox Sefarad. 650 pages and more than 100 ilustrations.

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The British Library's Turning the Pages Project
A digitised version of the Golden Haggadah
may be seen via the menu at Several other books are also available and the ingenious software allows the reader to turn the pages of each work. An on-screen magnifying glass is provided. Each page is described in a page of text and if you click on the "audio" button then the text will be recited through your computer's loud-speaker.
Be sure to also look at the Diamond Sutra, a Chinese work printed in 868 C.E., for it is presented as a scroll which may be wound back and forth.
Downloading the Golden Haggadah via my 1 Mbit broadband connection took about 85 seconds. An informative page of technical information is at
Other Turning the Pages web-sites are at
1.. National Library of Medicine, U.S.A.
2.. Wellcome Trust, U.K.

Passover Haggadah GIF and JPG Website
In the course of time the promoters of hope to display pages from (almost) every Pesach Haggadah ever printed. A large number of examples are already scanned and on display. The pages shown are a rich resource of Judaic artistic and calligraphic output.

A lavishly illuminated mem from the Mah Nishtanah in the Haggadah illustrated and lettered by Arthur Szyk and published by "Massadah" and "Alumoth" Jerusalem, 1962.

Arthur SzykArthur Szyk - Artist, Jew, Pole, a biographical work written by Joseph P. Ansell, is available from The Littman Library of Jewish Civilisation in the U.K. ISBN: 1-874774-94-3. 334 pages, 24 colour, 15 monochrome illustrations.

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A legal document which is presented by the husband to his wife at the time of their marriage. The document guarantees the financial rights of the wife in the event of divorce or the death of her husband.

Rochelle Frank Designs

Modern Ketubah™ by Daniel Sroka

Shop Ketubah

Judaica Connection Ketubot

Ketubah Space
... featuring the artwork of Jonah Schiller.

Ted Labow
Tel: +1 800-867 5997

Judaica Art, London, U.K.
Printed Ketubot. Twenty-five designs from traditional to modern.
Telephone: +44 (0)20-8458 9430.

The Jewish National and University Library (JNUL) David and Fela Shapell Family Ketubbot Digitization Project.

From Christies International Magazine, June 1996, page 60, col.3c:
A ketuba, written in Aramaic, recording a marriage in Sydney, Australia, in 1831 (c 5591) was sold at auction at Christies Melbourne for A$14,950 in March 1996. The bride was possibly the first Gentile woman to be converted to Judaism in Australia.
The document is unadorned except for numerous horizontally stretched letters. The first line of text includes an error where a word has been covered in ink and its replacement written in the space above.

Books about ketubot

Ketubbah: Jewish Marriage Contracts of the Hebrew Union College Skirball Museum and Klau Library
Author: Shalom Sabar
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Hebrew Union College
ISNB: 0827603614

Ketubbot: Marriage Contracts from the Jewish Museum, New York
Author: Claudia J. Nahson.
Format: Hardcover.
Publisher: Jewish Museum, New York.
ISBN: 0764906186

The Ketuba: Jewish Marriage Contracts Through the Ages
Author: David Davidovitch
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 0915361213

Another book, title unknown, published before 1988, is in the library of Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam.

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Making the Alphabet Dance

The monograms which are displayed are usually found on bar mitzvah and wedding invitations and also on benschers which are provided for guests at such occasions. Each monogram is unique and is designed to incorporate the initials of the bride and bridegroom or the bar mitzvah, often in ingenious arrangements which contain visual punning allusions. Contact details for some monogram designers are included on the page.

  The monogram contains the initials of Eleazar Tsoker (aleph tzaddi) on the left, read from left to right, and Esther Malka (aleph mem) on the right, read from right to left.


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Tuition - learning Hebrew calligraphy
A course in "The Art of Hebrew Calligraphy" conducted by Vetta Alexis and presented by the London Jewish Cultural Centre from October 2005.
Course Code: JC111. Get details from
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Miscellaneous calligraphy-related items

Security fingerprinting a Sefer Torah
The process involves pricking tiny holes in the parchment:'s Scroll Project
A silk screen process using computer-generated screens and ink applied by hand using a squeegee. Apparently it results in a kosher Sefer Torah which may be used for synagogal purposes. However, the project appears to have stalled in 2002.

Some Facts about writing a Sefer Torah scroll

A succinct description of the preparatory steps towards writing a Sefer Torah. Do not be detered by the "comic-book" format.

Calligraphic suppliers in London, U.K.

Cornelissen & Son (fine artists' materials)

Falkiner Fine Papers (fine artists' materials)
    76 Southampton Row, London WC1B 4AR, U.K. [click for map]
    Telephone: +44 (0)20-7831 1151.
    Facsimile: +44 (0)20-7430 1248.
    Comment: Close to the British Museum.

Calligraphy and Lettering Arts Society (CLAS), London, U.K.

Earthbound Book Restoration
John Dyer, antiquarian book restorer, experienced in all aspects of restoration and conservation, refurbishment of old bindings, Rebacks, (preserving and relaying the original spine), Corner repairs, etc. Rebinds, Full Leathers, (Fullbound) Halfbound, Quarterbound, all bound in various calf leather, morocco leather, cloth, or paper. (All kinds of book restoration but not Sifrei Torah, STaM.)
Address: Bath/Bristol area, United Kingdom
Tel & Fax: +44 (0)117 9322151
Mobile: +44 07817180593

Western Writing Implements in the Age of the Quill Pen
Author: Michael Finlay  © 1990
Publisher: Plains Books
ISBN: 1-872477-00-3
Format: Hardback. 21.5cm W x 30.2cm H. ix + 197pp. Index.
Comment: Copious illustrations, mostly monochrome, some colour.


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