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The University of Manchester Library

Hebrew Manuscripts

There are about 400 codices, Torah scrolls and marriage contracts, dating from the 14th to the 19th century AD. Hebrew MSS 1-34 were purchased by Mrs Rylands from Lord Crawford in 1901.

They include:

Hebrew MSS 34-49 are miscellaneous manuscripts acquired between 1909 and 1952.

Most of the remaining manuscripts were acquired in 1954 when the Library bought the collection of Dr Moses Gaster. The collection includes prayer-books of many Jewish communities, apocryphal writings, commentaries, treatises, letters, marriage contracts, piyyûtîm, and thirteen scrolls of the Law. Among countries represented are Spain, France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Romania, Italy, Morocco, and, particularly, Yemen.

In addition there are almost 10,600 fragments in Hebrew and Judaeo-Arabic from the Genizah of the Synagogue of Ben Ezra in Old Cairo, purchased from Dr Moses Gaster in 1954.

About 90% of the items are on paper, the remainder on parchment. The vast majority are very small fragments. They date from the 10th to the 19th century AD and include religious and literary texts, and material relating to grammar, philosophy, medicine, astrology and astronomy.

Many parts of the Mediterranean world are represented in the collection, and there are numerous fragments written in Ashkenazi hands.

There are several autograph fragments of Maimonides, including portions of his Guide of the Perplexed and Commentary on the Mishna.

Finding aids


The John Rylands Library

Using the reading rooms in the John Rylands Library