Israel Museum Acquires Rare 255-Year-Old Scroll of Esther, Penned by Fourteen-Year-Old Girl in Rome

March 9 2022

In a recent auction, the Israel Museum acquired a rare and elaborately decorated manuscript of the book of Esther, written by the fourteen-year-old Luna bat Yehuda Ambron in the 1760s. Judith Sudilovsky reports:

Little is known about the teenager other than that she belonged to a prominent wealthy Jewish family in Rome, who had come to Italy just before and after the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492. Her father owned several businesses, including a successful furniture-making business that also produced pieces for the Catholic Church and ecclesiastical use. Luna married Ya’acov David ben Mordechai Di Segni ten years after finishing the scroll, and they moved to the port city of Livorno on the west coast of Tuscany, where they helped expand her father’s business.

As for the history of the beautifully illustrated manuscript she wrote, all that is known is that it was held in private collections until it surfaced at an auction by the Jerusalem Kedem Auction House last December. With stiff competition from private collectors, it is nothing short of a miracle that the Israel Museum in Jerusalem was able to acquire the scroll from an Italian Jewish family with generous funding from the Mandel Foundation, making it available for public viewing for the first time.

Only two other scrolls of Esther are known to have been written by women, both originating in Italy and in private collections. One, copied by Estellina bat Menachem ben Jekutiel of Venice, is thought to be the earliest fully decorated megillah in existence. It is part of the Swiss Braginsky Collection, considered to be the largest private collection of Hebrew illustrated manuscripts, parts of which have been loaned to museums and can be viewed on the collection’s website.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Esther, Italian Jewry, Manuscripts

 

Why the Leader of Hamas Went to Russia

Sept. 30 2022

Earlier this month, the Hamas chairman Ismail Haniyeh and several of his colleagues visited Moscow, where they met with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other Russian officials. According to Arabic-language media, Haniyeh came seeking “new ideas” about how to wage war against the Jewish state. The terrorist group has had good relations with the Kremlin for several years, and even maintains an office in Moscow. John Hardie and Ivana Stradner comment on the timing of the visit:

For Moscow, the visit likely reflects a continuation of its efforts to leverage the Palestinians and other issues to pressure Israel over its stance on Russia’s war in Ukraine. Russia and Israel built friendly relations in the decades following the Soviet Union’s dissolution. After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Jerusalem condemned the war, but made sure to tread carefully in order to preserve working ties with Moscow, lest Russian military forces in Syria disrupt Israel’s strategically important air operations there.

Nevertheless, bilateral tensions spiked in April after Yair Lapid, then serving as Israel’s foreign minister, joined the chorus of voices worldwide accusing Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine. Jerusalem later provided Kyiv with some non-lethal military aid and a field hospital. In response, Moscow hardened its rhetoric about Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian issue isn’t the only way that Russia has sought to pressure Israel. Moscow is also threatening, on seemingly spurious grounds, to shutter the Russian branch of the Jewish Agency.

Moscow likely has little appetite for outright conflict with Israel, particularly when the bulk of Russia’s military is floundering in Ukraine. But there are plenty of other ways that Russia, which maintains an active intelligence presence in the Jewish state, could damage Israel’s interests. As Moscow cozies up with Hamas, Iran, and other enemies of Israel, Jerusalem—and its American allies—would do well to keep a watchful eye.

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Read more at Algemeiner

More about: Hamas, Israeli Security, Russia