Page 14 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 19

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X Estalina . . . wrote this Epistle
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. . ." from the
Mantua edition (1477?)
There is, however, no doubt that another woman, Gitel,
daughter of Judah Loeb, set up a volume as early as 1621. This
is clear from the colophon of a book which appeared that year
in Prague. Here Gitel refers to herself as one who engaged in
the “heavenly craft.” The term “heavenly craft” or “sacred
craft” is applied to typesetting in early Hebrew books—signifying
the value set upon this exacting work and the esteem in which
it was held. In a volume published seventeen years later, another
woman typesetter, Charna, actually refers to herself as a “type­
setter in the heavenly craft.”
The publication of the Talmud was in feminine hands as early
as the sixteenth century. In 1597 the tractate Ketubbot was
published in Kuru Tsheshme (near Constantinople, Turkey)
“in the house of the noble lady, the diadem of her lineage, Dona
Reyna . . . widow . . . from the types of the above-mentioned
lady.” Other works from her press included books of the Bible
and biblical commentaries. Dona Reyna was the widow of the
famous Don Joseph Nasi, Duke of Naxos, who had been given
the city of Tiberias in Palestine, where he attempted to p lan t
a colony of expatriated European Jews.
W idowhood apparently went hand in hand w ith book pub­
lication. Aside from the work of Dona Reyna and Deborah
Romm, there are records of extensive book publication by Jud ith
Rosanes, widow of Rabbi Hirsch Rosanes, beginning in 1782
in Zolkiev, Galicia, and continuing after 1788 in Lwow. During
her lifetime she published more than fifty volumes. Between