In January and February of this year, Alissa Fried, researcher from the Hebrew Illuminated Manuscript section of the Index of Jewish Art, conducted a survey of Hebrew illuminated manuscripts in the Osterreichische Nationalbibliothek collection in Vienna.
In total the collection holds 244 Hebrew manuscripts, thirty-eight of them containing decorations appropriate for the iconographical Index of Jewish Art. Alissa's first task in Vienna was to survey all the Hebrew manuscripts in the collection as well as the twenty-one incunabula (books printed before 1501). This time-consuming activity was both exciting and productive. One of the most significant manuscripts surveyed had been mis-shelved for many years amongst the printed books and was omitted from the inventory compiled by Franz Unterkircher in 1959.
Ashkenazi Hebrew illuminated manuscript, dated 1415, of a "Hymn of Unity" recited during evening prayers in the event Yom Kippur falls on a sunday (Vienna, NB Hebr. 242 fol. 190)
Alissa recorded codicological data of some manuscripts, including ruling and pricking, counting quires, and copying historical information usually relating to the purchase and sale of the manuscripts and significant events in the lives of the owners. She was greatly assisted in her work by library researcher, Dr. Andreas Fingernagel.
In Jerusalem, Alissa will research the material and then computerize it into the Index of Jewish Art. The Center will be sending a researcher in 1999 to continue the documentation of this important collection.
This survey was conducted with the help of a friend who wishes to remain anonymous.