Mahzor Worms

Cantor's festival prayerbook according to the Ashkenazi rite. 2 vols. on parchment in Ashkenazi calligraphy by two different scribes, with illumination and decoration in ink and color.

Vol. I: 1272.  224 fols., 390x310mm.  The vocalization follows the Palestinian-Tiberian and an ancient pre-Ashkenazi tradition. Vol. II: ca. 1280. 450x310mm.

The Mahzor was used for centuries in the Worms synagogue, until its destruction on Kristallnacht, November 1938, when the city’s archivist hid it in the cathedral. In 1957, following legal proceedings in Germany, the manuscript was transferred to the National Library in Jerusalem.

According to the colophon (217v) it was completed on 28 Teveth 1272, by Simhah ben Yehudah the Scribe, apparently in Würzburg, Germany.  In the prayers for 7th day of Passover, a marginal note reads: “This is said aloud on that day, such is the rite of Würzburg.”  Elsewhere in the margins there is a drawing of a scribe holding a book which says: "Judah, the scribe of Nürnberg, Simhah the scribe, Shema’yah the French." Nürnberg, apparently the scribe’s native city, is not far from Würzburg. Scholars have found similarities between the Mahzor's illustrations and Latin manuscripts from Würzburg.
The Mahzor was probably brought to Worms by refugees from Würzburg, after the destruction of this community in the Rindfleisch persecution of 1298.

On folio 54r, there is rhymed blessing in the vernacular German spoken by Jews (early Yiddish) for anybody who carried this heavy book to the synagogue. This is the oldest dated Yiddish text known to us.


Mahzor Worms