Mahzor Nuremberg


From the collection of Dr. David & Jemima Jeselsohn



Mahzor of prayers and piyyutim for the entire year according to the Eastern Ashkenazi (Austrian) rite. Illuminated manuscript from the year 1331


The giant, ornamental Nuremberg Mahzor contains the prayers for the whole year, according to the Ashkenazi rite, the five Megillot and the Haftarot.  It includes also a comprehensive collection of commentaries on the piyyutim (liturgical hymns) and pr​​​ayers, written in the margins.  The manuscript was written in Ashkenazi calligraphy in the year 1331 in Germany by a scribe, clearly identified as Matanya, for Yehoshua ben Yitzhak.  The commentaries in the margins, however, were written by another scribe, whose name was apparently Yaakov.  The manuscript’s nickname derives from the fact that since the expulsion of the Jews from Nuremberg in 1499, it was held in the Nuremberg Municipal Library until 1951. ​
It is the combination and juxtaposition of a number of unusual and sometimes unique aspects that make this manuscript so special.
In terms of its physical description, we are looking at a unique cultural object from the Middle Ages. The manuscript was written on parchment and is one of the largest and heaviest codices to have survived anywhere.  50 cm high by 37 cm wide, it contains 521 folios (i.e. 1042 pages).  This huge book was written in the finest calligraphic script by a scribe, who was evidently a profess​ional artist.
From an artistic point of view, the ornamentation, painting and decoration in the style of the Upper Rhine valley, are of a very high standard.

The Mahzor is also unique for its textual content, containing many piyyutim not found in any other source.  Moreover, the many commentaries have never been researched or published.

Undoubtedly the Nuremberg Mahzor is a cultural asset of inestimable importance for the Jewish people.  It reflects magnificently the multi-faceted cultural and intellectual achievements of German Jewry in the 14th century, being a wonderful example not only of the technological creativity used to produce this great work, but also of the arts of calligraphy, book design and decoration.  It also illustrates the spiritual and interpretative activity of the Jews of this period.  All in all, it represents one of the highest summits of achievement among all the medieval Hebrew manuscripts which have survived throughout the Jewish Diaspora.

 ​​​The Manuscript

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Part1: Shabbat Bereshit to Shavuot‬

Festival prayers‬
Piyyutim for Shabbat Bereshit‬
Piyyutim for Shabbat Rosh Hodesh‬
Selihot sheni ve-hamishi ve-sheni‬
Piyyutim for Shabbatot Vayera, Toldot‬
Piyyutim for Shabbatot Hannukah‬
Selihot for 10th of Tevet‬
Piyyutim for Shabbatot Beshalah, Yitro‬
Piyyutim for Parashat Shekalim‬
Piyyutim for Shabbat First Break‬
Piyyutim for Parashat Zakhor‬
Selihot for Taanit Ester‬
Piyyutim for Purim‬
Megillat Ester‬
Piyyutim for Shabbatot between Purim and Pessah‬
Piyyutim for 1st day of Pessah‬
Piyyutim for 2nd day of Pessah‬
Piyyutim for Shabbat Hol ha-Moed Pessah‬
Megillat Shir ha-Shirim‬
Piyyutim for 7th day of Pessah‬
Piyyutim for last day of Pessah‬
Selihot for Isru-Hag‬
Piyyutim for Shabbatot between Pessah and Shavuot‬
Piyyutim for 1st day of Shavuot‬
Piyyutim for 2nd day of Shavuot‬
Megillat Rut‬

Part 2: Shabbat following Shavuot to Erev Yom Kippur‬

Piyyutim for Shabbat following Shavuot‬
Piyyutim for Shabbatot Naso, Behaalotekha, Shelah, Hukat‬
Selihot for 17th of Tamuz‬
Megillat Ekhah‬
Kinot for Tish'a be-Av‬
Piyyutim for Shabbat Nahamu‬
Piyyutim for Weddings‬
Piyyutim for Brit Milah‬
Piyyutim for Shabbat before Rosh ha-Shanah‬
Selihot before Rosh ha-Shanah‬
Selihot for Erev Rosh ha-Shanah‬
Selihot for Tsom Gedalia‬
Selihot for Days of Repentance‬
Selihot for Erev Yom Kippur‬
Piyyutim for 1st day of Rosh ha-Shanah‬
Piyyutim for 2nd day of Rosh ha-Shanah‬
Piyyutim for Shabbat Shuvah‬

Part 3: Yom Kippur to Shmini Atseret, Haftarot‬

Piyyutim for Yom Kippur: Arvit‬
Piyyutim for Yom Kippur: Shaharit‬
Piyyutim for Yom Kippur: Mussaf‬
Piyyutim for Yom Kippur: Minhah‬
Piyyutim for Yom Kippur: Neilah‬
Piyyutim for 1nd day of Sukkot‬
Piyyutim for 2nd day of Sukkot‬
Piyyutim for Shabbat Hol ha-Moed Sukkot‬
Megillat Kohelet‬
Piyyutim for 1st day of Shmini Atseret‬
Piyyutim for 2nd day of Shmini Atseret‬

Related Links​

 Jonah and Avraham Fraenkel. Prayer and Piyyut in the Mahzor Nuremberg. (Hebrew). 2008

Ziemlich, Bernhard. Das Machsor Nürnberg: ein Beitrag zur Erforschung des Ritus und Commentarliteratur des Deutschen Machsor. Berlin 1886

German original              Hebrew translation

General and artistic description. From Catalog of Sotheby’s Tel-Aviv, 30 October 2002. Written by Bezalel Narkis and Ariela Amar.

Codicological description. From: Comité de Paléographie Hébraïque. Manuscrits médiévaux en caractères hébraïques. Tome I. manuscrits de grand format / par Colette Sirat et Malachi Beit-Arie, avec la collaboration de Mordechai Glatzer [et al.] Paris et Jérusalem, 1972 (French and Hebrew)

Lectures delivered on the occasion of launching the site (June 6, 2007)

Jonah Fraenkel. Marvels of the Nuremberg Mahzor (Hebrew)

Bezalel Narkis. Illustrations of the Nuremberg Mahzor

Bezalel Narkis. Illustrations of the Nuremberg Mahzor (Hebrew presentation)​​

Elhanan Adler. The digital version of the Nuremberg Mahzor (Hebrew presentation)