Page 31 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 30

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scheme which led to the establishment of Hebrew printing presses,
to the publication of hundreds of books and journals in their
own Judeo-Arabic dialect, and to the dissemination of Jewish
cultural values.
Since neither Baghdad, their spiritual homeland and reservoir,
nor Jerusalem had at this juncture Hebrew printing presses, it
was in Calcutta that the first Hebrew printing press was estab­
lished by and for Arabic-speaking Jews in India. In 1841, the
Cochin Jew of Yemenite parentage, Eliezer b. Mari Aaron
Saadya Arakie ha-Cohen, who had moved with his father to
Calcutta around 1817, climaxed his manifold activities as a
scholar, educator, poet, communal leader and teacher with the
establishment of the first Hebrew printing press in Calcutta, which
produced many dozens of Hebrew books from 1841 to 1856.
This was followed by the Hebrew printing press of Yecheskel
b. Soliman Chanon (1871-1893), then by Eliyahu b. Moshe
Duwayk ha-Cohen (1878-1888) and by the most active of all
Hebrew printers, namely Hakham Shlomo Abed Tweina of
Baghdad (1889-1900).
The Bombay colony of Baghdadi Jews entered the field around
1855 and some early pamphlets and books in lithography, such
as
Musar Haskel
(a primer of ethics for Israelites), and
Mashal
u-Melitzah,
for the use of Jewish youth in the Eastern countries,
were issued by special order of David S. Sassoon, with the help
of the famous Jewish scholar M. Steinschneider. The real
Hebrew printing press started in Bombay only in 1882 to be
followed by the small Baghdadi settlement in Poona in 1887.
One cannot attempt here to deal with the hundreds of Judeo-
Arabic publications that appeared in Bombay, Calcutta and in
Poona. We can only indicate the major categories and types of
these literary efforts.
Liturgical L iterature in Judeo-Arabic
The bulk of the Judeo-Arabic publications encompassed Judeo-
Arabic commentaries (Tafsir, Sharh) on the Pentateuch, the
haftarot,
the Megillot, Job, the Passover Haggadah, the Book
of Esther; publication of
siddurim, mahzorim, pizmonim, piy-
yutim, selihot,
hymns and psalms for all festive occasions, ethical
treatises such as
Pirke Abot, midrashim,
cabbalistic treatises,
works on the Hebrew calendar, lexicographical compilations,
interpretations of dreams, and halakhic treatises on
shehitah
and many other religious works.
Also produced in Judeo-Arabic translations were belles-lettres,
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