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

How to Save the Universities

To Peter Berkowitz, the rot in American institutions of higher learning exposed by Tuesday’s hearings resembles a disease that in its early stages was easy to cure but difficult to diagnose, and now is so advanced that it is easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. Recent analyses of these problems have now at last made it to the pages of the New York Times but are, he writes, “tardy by several decades,” and their suggested remedies woefully inadequate:

They fail to identify the chief problem. They ignore the principal obstacles to reform. They propose reforms that provide the equivalent of band-aids for gaping wounds and shattered limbs. And they overlook the mainstream media’s complicity in largely ignoring, downplaying, or dismissing repeated warnings extending back a quarter century and more—largely, but not exclusively, from conservatives—that our universities undermine the public interest by attacking free speech, eviscerating due process, and hollowing out and politicizing the curriculum.

The remedy, Berkowitz argues, would be turning universities into places that cultivate, encourage, and teach freedom of thought and speech. But doing so seems unlikely:

Having undermined respect for others and the art of listening by presiding over—or silently acquiescing in—the curtailment of dissenting speech for more than a generation, the current crop of administrators and professors seems ill-suited to fashion and implement free-speech training. Moreover, free speech is best learned not by didactic lectures and seminars but by practicing it in the reasoned consideration of competing ideas with those capable of challenging one’s assumptions and arguments. But where are the professors who can lead such conversations? Which faculty members remain capable of understanding their side of the argument because they understand the other side?

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Israel on campus