In the Middle Ages, the Jews of Catalonia had a distinct liturgy, shared by their brethren in nearby Valencia and the island of Majorca. Using partial manuscripts, the Israeli scholar Idan Perez has reconstructed a complete prayer book reflecting this liturgy, writes Chen Malul:
Perez, now head of the rare-books department at the National Library of Israel, worked on the restoration project for three years. The prayer book, which had never been printed in its entirety . . . was recreated based on six separate manuscripts. The earliest, preserved in the Ginzburg collection in Moscow, dates to around 1352, more than 100 years before the expulsion [of the Jews from Spain]. The latest of the manuscripts, preserved in Rome in the Biblioteca Casanatense, was copied in the year 1507, less than twenty years after the expulsion. “I didn’t add a single word of my own, everything came from the manuscripts,” he explains.
Perez elaborated further on the origins of the Catalan rite:
As we know, this ancient prayer style did not survive because the communities of the Catalan Jews did not survive centuries of [persecution]. Today, there is no community that prays according to this [liturgy]. I began my historical research about the Jews who fled Catalonia after the riots of 1391 and the expulsion in 1492 and reached important findings about the communities of expelled Catalan Jews in Italy, the Ottoman empire, and Algiers.