An Exquisite 15th-Century Prayer Book Becomes Available to the Public—Online

Illustrated in the 1400s by Joel ben Simon, one of the great Jewish artists of his day, the Moskowitz maḥzor—a book containing prayers for the entire calendar year—reflects the liturgy of Roman Jewry, which is neither Ashkenazi nor Sephardi. It gets its name from Harry and Rose Moskowitz, who donated it to the National Library of Israel in 1970. After carefully restoring it, the library has made it available in digital form online:

Joel ben Simon was a scribe and illuminator active in Germany and Northern Italy. The manuscript is considered exceptional due to the stunning illustrations and illuminations found throughout, including images of rabbits, bears, fish, squirrels, and birds, as well as such imaginary creatures as a unicorn, and a diverse range of mythological, religious, and astrological symbols.

It [contains] prayers according to the Jewish Roman rite for the entire year, including weekdays—the Sabbath, and holidays, Torah readings—the Passover Haggadah, Pirkey Avot [the Talmudic tractate known as Ethics of the Fathers] with Maimonides’ commentary, various blessings, and rulings related to Jewish law. It is also exceptionally full of piyyutim (liturgical poems), sliḥot (special penitential prayers), as well as rare formulae of other prayers.

Read more at The Librarians

More about: Italian Jewry, Jewish art, Piyyut, Prayer, Siddur

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy