Page 15 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 19

Basic HTML Version

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From the first page of
sefer
iggeret
sh em u e l
,
a commentary on the
Book of Ruth , printed by Dona Reyna in Kuru Tsheshme, 1597.
the middle of the eighteenth century and the years preceding
W o r ld W a r II, no fewer than forty-two women publishers
flourished in the Diaspora un til the H itler holocaust consumed
them.
The youngest female typesetters on record are two sisters, age
nine and twelve. The younger, Ella, set type in her father’s
printing house in Dessau in 1696 and in Frankfurt a. d. Oder in
1697-1700. In the colophon of a prayer book T e f llah le-Mosheh,
printed in 1696 and containing a translation into Judeo-German,
the following stanza appears by the young typesetter-poet:
These Yiddish letters I set with my own hand—
Ella the daughter of Moses of Holland.
My years number no more than nine;
The only girl among six children fine.
So, should you find a misprint wild,
Remember, this was set by a mere child.
In the pamphlet of Tehinnot—prayers in Judeo-German to
be recited by women—which was appended to this prayer book,
young typesetter Ella again gives her pen poetic reign:
These beautiful new prayers have not appeared before.
They are titled M inhat ‘A n /—prayers of the lonely and
the poor.
Added at no cost to the reader, they are proffered
As the gift of a pious lady who has offered
To pay their cost. Almighty, smile on her evermore!
Her sister Gella is known to have set the type for two books
in her fa ther’s printing press, which had moved to Halle. In