Page 18 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 27

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e w i s h
o o k
n n u a l
partly to honor the memory of their forefathers. This was destined
to bring about a decisive change in the history of Judeo-Persian
Though some Judeo-Persian works had been previously pub­
lished in Europe, particularly in Vienna and Vilna, Jerusalem
now became almost the exclusive center of Judeo-Persian printing
activities. Such a center was imperative in order to meet all the
liturgical and literary needs of the Persian speaking Jews in
Palestine as well as those in Persia, Afghanistan and Buchara.
It can hardly be attempted here to compute the invaluable
harvests of these printing and publishing activities in Jerusalem
during many decades. Their scope and influence are beyond the
purview of a brief survey. Almost every area in the religious,
literary, historical and philosophical spectrum was included in the
overall program of the Jerusalem center catering to the needs of
Persian speaking Jews: Bible, Bible commentaries, prayer books for
every occasion, rabbinical writings, Mishnah and Zohar, medieval
Jewish poetry and philosophy, piyyutim, selihot, pizmonim,
midrashim, historical narratives, anthologies of songs and stories.
All these are represented in parts and selections in the Judeo-
Persian translation activities carried out in Jerusalem.
Even non-Jewish literature, such as portions of the Arabian
Nights and selections from Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors, found
their way to the printer.
These literary activities represented a creative effort, a coopera­
tive endeavor of all the groups of Persian speaking Jews who had
settled in the Holy Land. Among the promoters and initiators
must be recorded such Jews as Simon Chacham of Buchara and
Solomon Babajan Pinchasoff of Samarqand; the leading rabbis of
Herat in Afghanistan, the Garji’s; Mulla Mordecai b. Raphael
Aklar, known as Mulla Murad, the secret rabbi of the Anusim of
Meshhed; and many leading personalities from Shiraz, Hamadan,
Isfahan and from other Jewish communities who had settled in
Jerusalem. They successfully effected one of the greatest common
cultural enterprises in the literary history of Oriental Jewry. Long
before Ahad Ha-Am, they converted Zion into a spiritual reservoir
and cultural center for the Persian speaking Jews.