Oldest known Jewish prayer book goes on display

An Israeli museum is showcasing a Jewish prayer book that was written in the year 820 – believed to be the oldest known copy of a Siddur.

Jewish medieval siddur

The Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem is displaying the 9th century text for four weeks as part of its exhibition ‘The Book of Books’. The 50 page codex is written in Hebrew and contains texts of prayers for the morning service, liturgical poems, and the Haggadah. The manuscript measures about 10 cm by 7 cm, and is still in its original binding.

However, not all experts are sure that the codex is of really of a Siddur. Aviad Stollman, curator of the National Library’s Judaica collection, believes that more research is needed about the manuscript. “Perhaps it is a collection of papers,” he told the Times of Israel. “In some ways it looks as if someone took a bunch of papers and collated them.”

The Siddur will be on display in Israel until October 18th. It is owned by a private American collector, but will eventually be permanently hosted at the Museum of the Bible, currently under construction in Washington DC.

Amanda Weiss, executive director of the Bible Lands Museum, told the Jerusalem Post that this book is “evidence of a thriving and creative community and cultural life 1,200 years ago and we are honored to have it in our Book of Books exhibition. We are happy for the opportunity to provide our visitors the privilege to see in person the ancient prayer book during the final month of the exhibition.”

Click here to visit the Bible Lands Museum for more information.

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