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Moses Gaster Papers

Date range: 1876-1938

Medium: Archive/Printed

In 1958, following the purchase by the John Rylands Library of the collection of manuscripts assembled by Dr Moses Gaster (1856–1939), his family gave the Library this collection of printed books and archival material.

Moses Gaster became Chief Rabbi ( Haham) of the Sephardic Communities of British Jews in 1887, and held the office until his retirement in 1919. A distinguished scholar with a long list of publications to his name, his interests ranged from the Hebrew prayer-book, the minutiae of Hebrew text study and apocryphal Hebrew literature to Jewish magic and mysticism and Romanian folklore. He made a special study of the Samaritans and became a recognized authority on their language and literature.

The Gaster papers in the Library comprise thirteen boxes of working papers covering a broad range of Gaster's research, five boxes of lists of books Gaster owned, and four boxes of his important correspondence with Samaritan priests in Nablus, in Hebrew but written in the Samaritan script (there are English translations of many of these letters).

In addition there are 208 printed items, comprising monographs and a mixture of periodicals( Quest, Jewish Review etc.), offprints of single articles, and bound volumes containing a miscellany of small monographs, articles, reviews and newspaper cuttings. The vast majority were written by Gaster, contain an article by him, or refer to his writings. Much of the material is heavily annotated by Gaster and some ephemera is enclosed.

The print collection concerns Jewish history, folklore and religion, with special reference to eastern Europe and specifically to Romania. Most of the collection is written in Romanian, with smaller quantities in English, Hebrew, German and French.

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