You are here

Biblical Archaeology Review 48:1, Spring 2022

Pricey Prayers

A medieval Jewish prayer book sold for $8.3 million in October 2021. This set a new record: The Luzzatto Mahzor can now claim the highest price tag of any Hebrew manuscript purchased to date. With lavish illustrations and embellishments, the prayer book (or mahzor) is a feast for the eyes—even depicting mythological creatures—and for the soul. It includes the liturgy for two Jewish holidays: Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

The prayer book was created in the 13th or 14th century by a scribe named Abraham for the Jewish community in Bavaria. Later, it entered the collection of Samuel David Luzzatto, a 19th-century Italian Jewish scholar and poet, and then the Universal Israelite Alliance, a Paris-based Jewish organization. Although the recent purchaser of the manuscript remains anonymous, the individual is an American, meaning that the manuscript has left Europe and now has a new home in the U.S.

Join the BAS Library!

Already a library member? Log in here.

Institution user? Log in with your IP address.