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Obj. ID: 2048
Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts
  The Ulm Mahzor, Ulm, 1459/60

© Bayerische Staatsbibliothek , Photographer: Unknown, 2008

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The Ulm Mahzor | Unknown
Object Detail
1459 (vol. I); 1459/60 or 1461/62 (vol. II)
Synagogue active dates
Reconstruction dates
Artist/ Maker
Unknown (Unknown)
Historical Origin
Period Detail
Germany | Munich | Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (BSB)
| Cod. hebr. 3/I- II (Steinschneider 1895, No. 3)
Material Stucture
Material Decoration
Material Bonding
Material Inscription
Material Additions
Material Cloth
Material Lining
Tesserae Arrangement
Construction material
Panel Measurements
Iconographical Subject
Unknown |
Vol. I:26 and the following page mutilated; torn (I:173, 253, 276, 279, 279b, 382); trimmed margins (I:191, 228, 254); torn and damaged edges from fol. 403 - end. Ink damage (e.g. I:103, 159v, 275 and from 383- end, passim). Black stains (e.g. I:364v-365). Vol. II is in better condition. Water damage (e.g. II:16, 350- end); torn and loose leaf (II:27); II:28, 300 are missing; a few cuts and slits; damaged edges (II:365- end).
Documented by CJA
Surveyed by CJA
Present Usage
Present Usage Details
Condition of Building Fabric
Architectural Significance type
Historical significance: Event/Period
Historical significance: Collective Memory/Folklore
Historical significance: Person
Architectural Significance: Style
Architectural Significance: Artistic Decoration
Urban significance
Significance Rating
Mahzor in two volumes for Day of Atonement (vol. I) and Sukkot (vol. II) according to the western Ashkenazi rite. Both volumes are vocalised. Vol. I: Day of Atonement (fols. 1-486): Evening service (fols. 1-44v): the beginning and some of its selihot are missing. The Mahzor starts with the selihot ראה עמידתנו דלים (fol. 1; Goldschmidt 1970, II, p. 20), the blessing aleinu leshabbeakh is interrupted in אנחנו כורעים ומשתחוים; fol. 19v), shir hayihud (fol. 20: the hymn begins with ממסלותם והכוכבים for Sunday: missing 4 leaves between fols. 19v and 20, with the end of aleinu leshabbeakh and the beginning of the hymn for Sunday; 2 leaves (between fols. 26v-27) of the hymn for Tuesday, and one leaf (between fols. 31v and 32) of the hymn for Wednesday); morning service (fol 45); musaf (fol. 229v): missing: the beginning of the piyyut שושן עמק אימה (between fols. 239v and 240); afternoon service (fol. 357v): the Book of Jonah (fol. 361); neilah (fol. 431v); evening service for the end of the holiday (fol. 486): just the beginning of the service. Scribe's colophon (fols. 487-488). Vol. II: Sukkot (fols. 1-299): First Day (fols. 1-76v): evening service (fol. 1); morning service (fol. 15v), missing the yozer blessing יוצר אור ובורא חשך, and several lines of the piyyut אכתיר זר תהלה (between fols. 16v and 17); fol. 27 with the beginning of the amidah is mutilated; fol. 28 with text missing betweenאתה בחרתנו and ;בתפלתםmusaf (fol. 61v), hoshanot (fol. 68). Second day of Sukkot (fols. 77-149): evening service (fol. 77); morning service (fol. 93v); musaf (fol. 136), hoshanot (fol. 142v). Shabbat Holhamoed (fols. 149-212v): morning service (fol. 149); Ecclesiastes (fol. 173v); Torah readings (fol. 189); musaf (fol. 200), hoshanot (fol. 205v). Shemini Azeret (fols. 213-299): evening service (fol. 213-230); morning service (fol. 230v); musaf (fol. 262v); prayer for rain (fol. 267v). Simhat Torah (fols. 299v-370): evening service (fol. 299v, the beginning is mutilated); morning service (fol. 312v), Torah readings (fol. 339v); reshut for Hatan Torah (fol. 343) and reshut for Hatan Bereshit (fol. 345v). Scribe's colophon (fol. 370v).


Vellum, vol. I: I + 484 + I leaves (foliated 1 to 489 with errors: fol. 80 is followed by fol. 88, fol. 246 by fol. 248, fol. 279 is numbered three times consecutively, and fol. 452 is counted twice).

Vol. II: I + 368 + I leaves (foliated 1 to 371; however, fols. 28 and 300 were cut out with text; fol. 161 erroneously follows 159).

Watermarks: Two flyleaves (vol. I, front flyleaf; vol. II, back flyleaf) have a watermark of an inverted fleur-de-lis similar to Heawood, Watermarks, No. 1557 = Nuremberg, c.1720. In both volumes the difference between hair and flesh sides is hardly noticeable (except for e.g. vol. I: 30v, 389v and vol. II: 230 where the hair side is discernible).


Full page: vol. I: (365-371) x (269-270) mm; vol. II: (364-369) x (260-270) mm.

Text space: vol. I: (223-232) x (135-156) mm; vol. II: (224-230) x (135-155) mm.


Each volume was copied by a single scribe.

Vol. I: Isaac Sofer.

Vol. II: scribe unknown.


Vols. I and II: the main text is written in square Ashkenazi script in various sizes in dark brown ink. Some texts were written in semi-cursive Gothic-Ashkenazi script; this is more often employed by the scribe of vol. II.

There are striking differences between the scripts of the two scribes, two of which are given here. Isaac Sofer (vol. I) writes his text directly below the ruled line (hanging letters) while the second scribe (vol. II) writes between the lines. Moreover, to indicate the Divine name, Isaac mainly uses three letters yod, whereas the second scribe usually uses only two. Columns Vols. I and II: the text is written mostly in one column. In vol. I the biblical readings and some other texts are in two columns (width of one: 45 mm; e.g. I:218-224v, 358v-360v).

Number of lines

Vols. I and II: the text is mainly written in 18 lines per page, except for special piyyutim which are written in display script (the height of 2 lines), taking up approximately 9 lines per page (e.g. I:440v-444v, II:88, 294v).


Vol. I: in grey plummet 1 + 2 + 2 vertical lines down the entire page; and 19 horizontal lines, the first, third seventeenth, and nineteenth across the whole width of the page.

Vol. II: In brown plummet 3 + 3 vertical lines down the entire page; and 19 horizontal lines, three pairs of horizontal lines at the top, middle and bottom of the text are ruled across the whole width of the page.


Vol. I: Noticeable in the upper, lower and outer margins.

Vol. II: Noticeable in all four margins.


Vol. I: 62 quires of 8 leaves each except for 6 quires: III8-2 (a central bifolium between fols. 19 and 20 is missing with text), IV8-1 (a central bifolium is damaged; the 5th folio between fols. 26 and 27 missing with text), V8-1 (3rd folio missing with text between fols. 31 and 32), XXX8-1 (the 5th folio with text missing between fols. 239 and 240), LXI8-1 (481-487) (the 5th folio between fols. 484 and 485 missing; no text missing), LXII2 (488-489). Quire structure: I8 (1-8); II8 (9-16); III8-2 (17-22); IV8-1 (23-29); V8-1 (30-36); VI8 (37-44); VII8 (45-52); VIII8 (53-60); IX8 (61-68); X8 (69-76); XI8 (77-91); XII8 (92-99); XIII8 (100-107); XIV8 (108-115); XV8 (116-123); XVI8 (124-131); XVII8 (132-139); XVIII8 (140-147); XIX8 (148-155); XX8 (156-163); XXI8 (164-171); XXII8 (172-179); XXIII8 (180-187); XXIV8 (188-195); XXV8 (196-203); XXVI8 (204-211); XXVII8 (212-219); XXVIII8 (220-227); XXIX8 (228-235); XXX8-1 (236-242); XXXI8 (243-251); XXXII8 (252-259); XXXIII8 (260-267); XXXIV8 (268-275); XXXV8 (276-281); XXXVI8 (282-289); XXXVII8 (290-297); XXXVIII8 (298-305); XXXIX8 (306-313); XL8 (314-321); XLI8 (322-329); XLII8 (330-337); XLIII8 (338-345); XLIV8 (346-353); XLV8 (354-361); XLVI8 (362-369); XLVII8 (370-377); XLVIII8 (378-385); XLIX8 (386-393); L8 (394-401); LI8 (402-409); LII8 (410-417); LIII8 (418-425); LIV8 (426-433); LV8 (434-441); LVI8 (442-449); LVII8 (450-456); LVIII8 (457-464); LIX8 (465-472); LX8 (473-480); LXI8-1 (481-487); LXII2 (488-489).

Vol. II: 47 quires of 8 leaves each except for the following 5 quires: III8-1 (text page missing between fols. 16 and 17; fol. 23 is single), IV8-1 (fol. 27 is mutilated; fol. 28 is missing with text), XXVII4 (no text missing), XXXVIII8-1 (fol. 300 missing with text), XLVII8-1 (last blank folio cut off; fol. 365 is single). Quire structure: Fols. I8 (1-8); II8 (9-16); III8-1 (17-23); IV8-1 (24-31); V8 (32-39); VI8 (40-47); VII8 (48-55); VIII8 (56-63); IX8 (64-71); X8 (72-79); XI8 (80-87); XII8 (88-95); XIII8 (96-103); XIV8 (104-111); XV8 (112-119); XVI8 (120-127); XVII8 (128-135); XVIII8 (136-143); XIX8 (144-151); XX8 (152-159); XXI8 (161-168); XXII8 (169-176); XXIII8 (177-184); XXIV8 (185-192); XXV8 (193-200); XXVI8 (201-208); XXVII4 (209-212); XXVIII8 (213-220); XXIX8 (221-228); XXX7 (229-236); XXXI8 (237-244); XXXII8 (245-252); XXXIII8 (253-260); XXXIV8 (261-268); XXXV8 (269-276); XXXVI8 (277-284); XXXVII8 (285-292); XXXVIII8-1 (293-299); XXXIX8 (301-308); XL8 (309-316); XLI8 (317-324); XLII8 (325-332); XLIII8 (333-340); XLIV8 (341-348); XLV8 (349-356); XLV8 (357-364); XLVII8-1 (365-371).

Catchwords Neither volume has catchwords.

Hebrew numeration Vols. I & II: The first half of several quires preserve the Hebrew א-ד (1-4) numeration in the lower left-hand corner (e.g. I:108-111 of quire XIV, and II:309-312 of quire XL).

Blank leaves I:488v, 489, 489v; II:371, 371v.

Number of Lines
Hebrew Numeration
Blank Leaves
Façade (main)
Location of Torah Ark
Location of Apse
Location of Niche
Location of Reader's Desk
Location of Platform
Temp: Architecture Axis
Arrangement of Seats
Location of Women's Section
Direction Prayer
Direction Toward Jerusalem
Coin Series
Coin Ruler
Coin Year
Vol. I: Colophon of the scribe Isaac Sofer on three successive pages in large display and semi-cursive scripts (fols. 487-488). Fol. 487: חזק והתחזק הסופר/ לא יוזק לא היום/ ולא לעולם. עד/ שיעל'(ה) חמור בסלם./ ברוך נותן ליעף/ כח סליק. אפאר אל אשר אמץ זרועה אל עבדו יצחק/ וכן אראה בנחמה ישועה להנחיל יש ומתן משחק./ אני יצחק הסופר המכונה ב'א' (בלשון אשכנז) אייזק סופר. כתבתי ונקדתי המחזור/ מיום כפרים ביום ה' י'ב'/ Fol. 487v: תמוז בשנת ר'י'ט'/ לפרט לאלף הששי/ לר' יעקב מתתיהו בן מ'ה'ר'ר'/ יצחק ז'צ'ל' וסימתי לפרשה/ מה טבו אהליך יעקב/ משכנתך ישראל/ ה' יזכהו ויחיהו הוא וזרעו/ אחריו להתפלל בתוך המחזור/ הזה/ אבקש טוב ושלום לכל איש משכיל/ להגיה בזה המחזור ולהסיר מכשול השגגות/ כי הוצרכתי להוציא מתחת ידי דבר שאינו/ מתוקן ועליהם נאמר והמשכילים יזהירו/ כזוהר הרקיע ומצדיקי הרבים ככוכבים יזהירו/ לעולם ועד חזק ואמץ. Fol. 488: אני אייזק הסופר/ בן אחד וששים שנ'(ה)/ אנכי כתבתי זה/ המחזור בלא כלי/ זכוכיות המאירים/ לעינים הנקראים/ ב'א' (בלשון אשכנז) ברילן להנ'ד'(יב)/ יעקב מתתיהו בן/ מ'ה'ר'ר' יצחק ז'צ'ל'/ בעיר אולמא. Translation: Fol. 487: Strengthen and be strong the scribe shall not be harmed today nor ever until a donkey climbs the ladder (in Jacob's dream, Gen. 28:12). Blessed is He who giveth power to the faint (based on Isaiah 40:29; followed by two rhymed phrases for the name Isaac); I, Isaac the scribe, known in Ashkenaz as Isaac Sofer, copied and vocalized this Mahzor for the Day of Atonement on Thursday 12th )fol. 487v( of Tammuz 5219 (June 14th 1459) for Rabbi Jacob Mattathias son of the late Isaac, and completed it in the week of the reading "How goodly are thy tents" (Num. 24:5; pericope of Balak) … I beg every erudite man to correct this Mahzor because I had to deliver it without its being corrected … ; (fol. 488( I, Isaac the scribe, at the age of 61 years, copied this Mahzor without the glass apparatus which lightens the eyes, which is called in the language of Ashkenaz Brillen, for Jacob Mattathias son of the late Isaac, in the city of Ulm. Vol. II: Colophon of the second scribe in large square Ashkenazi script: Fol. 370v: נשלם בְרַך לפרט שבח לאל (completed in the year B-'R'Ch (5220 =1459/60), Glory to God). However, it is possible that the letter bet (ב) is in fact part of the date (B'R'Ch) and the colophon thus refers to the year 1461/62. The colophon is preceded by a blessing formula consisting of verses from Ps. 23:6; 5:9; 116:9 and paraphrase of 121:8, and Gen. 49:18, written in semi-cursive script in shaped text.
Scribal Notes
The name of the scribe Isaac (which may also allude to the name of the patron’s father) is marked many times in vol. I by dots or short strokes within the main text (I:5, 171v, 192, 221v, 409, 430v) and in the margin (I:273). The name Isaac also appears in the margin of I:2v as an example for vocalizing a word: כמו ביצחק (as in Isaac). The owner's name, Jacob Mattathias bar Isaac, is mentioned in the mi sheberakh prayers in both volumes (in small square or semi-cursive script): I:221v (the name Isaac is marked):מי שברך אבותינו.../ הוא יברך ר' יעקב מתתיהו בן מהר'/ יצחק ; II:55, 257: מי שברך אבותינו... הוא יברך/ את הנדיב ר' יעקב מתתיה ב"ר מה"ר יצחק. The name Abraham son of Jacob Mattathias is mentioned in both volumes: I:222v, in the mi sheberakh the name Isaac is marked: מי שברך.../ הוא יברך/ ר' אברהם ב'ר' יעקב מתתיהו; II:343v-344, 345v, in the hymn for Hatan Torah (Bridegroom of the Law) for Simhat Torah, e.g. fol. 343v: עמוד עמוד עמוד ר' אברהם בר' יעקב חתן התורה; II:345v, in the mi sheberakh: ר' אברהם בר יעקב מתתיה. The name Moses son of Jacob Mattathias is mentioned twice in vol. II: II:347v, in the announcement of the Hatan Bereshit (Bridegroom of Genesis) for Simhat Torah (in smaller script): .עמוד עמוד עמוד ר' משה ב"ר יעקב מתתיה חתן בראשית II:351, in the mi sheberakh (in semi-cursive script), written twice: מי שברך הוא יברך את הנר'(=הנעלה רבי) משה ב"ר יעקב מתתיה חתן בראשית. The name Pinchas ben Eleazar ha-Cohen (could refer to the biblical Eleazar ha-Cohen) is mentioned in II:340v, in the main text in the blessing before reading the Torah on Simhat Torah: (הבו) כבוד לתורה כהן קרב/ יעמוד ר פינחס בן אלעזר/ הכהן ברוך שנתן תורה Vol. I: Names of Rabbis mentioned in the margins by Isaac Sofer: I:126v, in the outer margin: R. Zalman Yent, regarding his vocalisation of the word: בקדשתך (in your sanctification) in the text: י"ג (יש גורסים) בערכך/ מהר"ר/ זלמן/ יינט/ גרסי')נן)/ בקדשתך R. Zalman Yent, who lived in the first half of the 15th century, originated from the Rhine region and later moved to Treviso in Italy where he wrote his Book of Customs according to the Ashkenazi rite (see Spitzer 1979, pp. 12-13). I:244, in the lower margin: The late R. Meir said: הרב/ רבנו/ מאיר/ ז"ל/ אמר/ בכפל/ פירוש/ אשכנזי/ מולבנט/ עכ"ל. I:21v-22v, instructions for the cantor by Isaac Sofer: alternative words for the piyyut: י"א (יש אומרים)/ ערך (במקום חקר). י"א ועושה (במקום פלאות) י"א/ יגיעך (במקום יציעך) י"א/ אמרה (במקום אזמרה). י"א/ תקצ (במקום יקצה). I:46, alternative pronunciation and vocalization for the word: במַקְהֵלוֹת י"א/ ובמַקְהֲלוֹת/ במשקל/ ובְמִצְהֲלוֹת/ חתנים. I:47, in the outer margin instructions for the cantor to recite a certain text with the congregation: החזן צריך/ לומר בעצמו/ עם הקהל/ יהא שמיה/ רבא אבל/ לא יאמר/ ברוך/ ה' המבורך/ לאחר ברכו ... I:57v and 58, in the outer margins, instructions for how to pronounce the words נשבע and תזכרו: וצריך/ להתיז/ העין/ של/ נשבע/ דלא/ לישתמע/ נשבה וצריך/ להתיז/ הזיין/ של/ תזכרו/ דלא/ לישתמע /על מנת/ לקבל/ פרס. I:68, in the lower margin in a square script: ויתחיל החזן/ בקול רם. I:265, דברי/ חכמים/ בנחת/ נשמעים/ ערטלאי/ ברגש. Instructions for the reader: I:7, not to recite the verse וכתוב בתורתך ומל ה' אלהיך את לבבך ...: אין אומ'(רים)/ בכאן/ פסוק/ זה. I:376, one cannot recite a blessing for oneself: אין יחיד קובע ברכה לעצמו.
Trade Mark

Each volume is bound with thick wooden boards and a red tanned leather spine, with four raised double cords and head and tail bands. The front and back covers of each volume have two groups of four holes made originally for clasps which are now missing

The codices are now kept in two separate wine-red cardboard boxes. 

The spines of both volumes are gold-tooled with the following inscription: Jeudisches Gebett Buch/ auf das ganze Jahr/ Geschrib. v. Rabbi. Isaac./ in Ulm AETATIS 61.

Below, gold-tooled on vol. I: TOM. I., and on vol. II: TOM. II.

Decoration Program

The decoration of the two-volume Mahzor consists of coloured initial word panels, several text illustrations and the Zodiac Cycle in medallions.

Vol. I was decorated by the scribe Isaac Sofer in Ulm, whereas vol. II was decorated in Johannes Bämler's workshop in Augsburg. In addition, two pages in vol. II includes penwork decoration typical of the Jewish scribes and artists of Ulm, Joel ben Simeon (II:268) and Meir Yaffe (II:232v; see Remarks).

The Bämler workshop artist of vol. II used gold leaf tooled with patterns of geometrical or floral motifs. His colours are vermilion, red, magenta, green, blue, yellow, yellow ochre, brown, grey, white and silver powder. The highlights are in white and yellow, the shading in darker hues of the corresponding colours. The panel ground is one colour - red, blue or green - occasionally alternating with gold. The display letters are in gold leaf or in alternating colours. The profiled borders of panels and medallions have tones of two to six colours. Various floral lace patterns surround the frames.

The colours in the first volume are similar to those of the second, although the application is less refined. The shading in the second volume is mostly in black and brown, while the tendrils and some birds are in brown ink (cf. I:49, II:268).

The colour of the gold leaf base in vol. I is magenta, whereas that of vol. II is skin colour.

Vol. I: I. Illustrated architectonic frame for the Gates of Mercy (I:48). II. Fully framed page for the piyyut "Then" for the morning service for the Day of Atonement (I:49). III. Three initial word panels (I:45v, 49, 69). IV. Six initial words written in dark brown ink in large letters (4-5 lines high, and width of text space) decorated with wrigglework in brown (I:183, 268v, 279c, 280, 431v) or red ink (I:152v).

The initial words for two piyyutim in vol. I, fol. 377v (איתן (הכיר אמונתך)) and fol. 446v (אב (ידעך מנוער)) were never executed and the spaces (8-10 lines high) designated for them were left empty. At a later stage the initial word was supplied in small semi-cursive script.

Vol. II: Categories I-II were executed in Johannes Bämler's workshop probably by Bämler himself, whereas III seems to have been done by Joel ben Simeon or a similar hand; IV was executed in a style similar to that of Meir Yaffe, and V is scribal art (see Remarks).

I. Twelve illustrated medallions with the signs of the zodiac illustrate the piyyut for rain (II:280v, 281, 281v, 282v, 283v, 284, 285, 285v, 286v, 287, 287v, 288).

II. Eight initial word panels (II:2, 78, 95v, 151v, 173v, 214, 268, 315v).

III. Pen-drawn punning illustration in the margins of the panel (II:268), probably by Joel ben Simeon.

IV. Pen-work decoration of an initial word (II:232v), probably by Meir Yaffe.

V. Red ink decorations by the scribe on almost every page, including horizontal wavy or vertical curls on the top of letters, or strokes attached to stems and legs (e.g. II:95v, 169, 214, 232v).

The initial words (יוצר (אור ובורא חשך (Creates), and אכתיר (זר תהילה) (I shall crown) were probably written and decorated on the leaf now missing between fols. 16 and 17.

Summary and Remarks

The Ulm Mahzor of Munich is a two-volume prayer book for the Day of Atonement (vol. I) and Sukkot (vol. II) following the western Ashkenazi rite with some text following the Swabian-Swiss rite (e.g. I:152v-185; Goldschmidt 1970, II, p. 203). The Mahzor was produced for a wealthy Jewish patron from Ulm, Jacob Mattathias son of Isaac, who is mentioned as the owner in the colophon of the first volume copied by the scribe Isaac Sofer in June 1459 in the city of Ulm. The colophon of the second volume, written by another scribe, as claimed by Narkiss (Narkiss 1991, pp. 30, 35) and Glatzer (Glatzer 1991, p. 144), mentions an ambiguous date "B'R'Ch" (ברך) which indicates either 1459/60 or 1461/62.

This volume too could have been copied in Ulm, since the scribe inserted the name of Jacob Mattathias and his two sons, Abraham and Moses, into the main text as Hatan Torah (II:343v-344, 345v) and Hatan Bereshit (II:351) respectively.

Jacob Mattathias commissioned at least two additional manuscripts. One is the London Ashkenazi Haggadah of c.1460 from Ulm (Narkiss 1991, p. 35), dated by Beit-Arié to 1469-1478 (Beit-Arié 1993, p. 107) and by Glatzer to 1469-1485 (Glatzer 1991, pp. 144-145); the other is an Ashkenazi Siddur (New York, JTS MS 4057; Zirlin 2006, p. 291). Both the Haggadah and the Siddur were copied by the scribe Meir ben Israel Yaffe, who is known to have resided in Ulm in 1468 and may have begun his career there in 1459 or 1460 (Glatzer 1991, pp. 140, 144; see also CJA Documentation of Meir Yaffe’s binding of a Pentateuch now in Munich, BSB Cod. hebr. 212). Thus Jacob Mattathias employed at least three different Jewish scribes to copy his manuscripts, Meir Yaffe and the two scribes of our Mahzor, and as we shall see below, he employed several artists to illuminate them.

The illumination of both volumes of the Mahzor mainly adorns the initial words with acanthus leaves, dragons and grotesques and set within painted panels. However, the significant differences in style, technique and the use of colours in each volume lead to the conclusion that the illumination of the two volumes was carried out by at least two different artists.

Considering the style, the layout of the page in the first volume is denser than that of the second. Almost no space is left between the panels and the text below them (e.g. I:45v, 69), and the decoration invades the text space (I:69) or is entwined with the text (I:48). In the second volume, on the other hand, several lines separate the decoration from the main text, thus lending spaciousness to the pages (e.g. II:2, 173v, 214, 315v). Furthermore, this volume is painted in vivid colours of red, blue and green, and gold leaf is used for every illumination. The artist of this volume uses clear contours and highlights certain areas of the motifs, giving the illusion of depth to the painting (e.g. II:2). In the first volume, the colours are dull and seem faded, and the use of gold leaf is limited; the inhabited letters are in monochrome colours and the motifs are hardly distinguishable from their background (e.g. I:69). Moreover, in the rare cases of the use of gold leaf (I:49 and 69), it is laid on a magenta ground and has cracked in some places, whereas the gold leaf in the second volume is skillfully laid flat on a thin flesh-colored base (e.g. II:2, 78).

The differences in figure style and modeling in each volume are even more prominent. The figures of the angels in the second volume (fol. 95v) are more elongated than those of the hybrids in the first (fol. 48). The angel drapery is delicately created by angular lines and contrasting light and dark shades; those of the hybrids are softer and flatter, mostly created by curved lines. The angels’ palms are smaller than those of the hybrids; their facial features are delicately drawn in fleshy tones, while those of the hybrids are outlined in thick black contours, their eyelids are half-circles above and below the eyes and the eyebrows are long and low, set close to the eyelids.

Despite these differences in style between the two volumes, both artists are rooted in the German style of the second half of the 15th century in the region of Ulm and Augsburg. Regarding the art in the second volume, Gutmann was the first to notice similarities to some of the illuminated pages of the London Ashkenazi Haggadah of c.1460 from Ulm (Gutmann 1970, p. 78, and figs. 11, 12). Indeed, a striking similarity is evident between the decorated panel in our Mahzor (fig. 1) and that in the London Haggadah (fig. 2).


Fig. 1: Initial word panel

The Ulm Mahzor

Munich, BSB Cod. hebr. 3, II:95v


Fig. 2: Initial word panel

The London Ashkenazi Haggadah

Ulm, c.1460

LondonAshkenazi Haggadah

Meir Jaffe (scribe)

Bämler of Augsburg and Joel ben Simeon (artists)

London, BL, Add. 14762, fol. 6v

(Goldstein, facsimile 1985)

Both contain a gold initial word which fills the panel, placed on a similar blue ground studded with gold flowers and surrounded by a coloured band and a floral lace pattern. Fig. 1: Initial word panel The Ulm Mahzor Munich, BSB Cod. hebr. 3, II:95v Fig. 2: Initial word panel The London Ashkenazi Haggadah Ulm, c.1460 London Ashkenazi Haggadah Meir Jaffe (scribe) Bämler of Augsburg and Joel ben Simeon (artists) London, BL, Add. 14762, fol. 6v (Goldstein, facsimile 1985)

Furthermore, in both manuscripts, the gold letters are tooled with large flowers and running dot patterns (e.g. II:173v). The resemblance between the two manuscripts is also evident in the acanthus leaves ending in a loop as well as the raceme of gold or red dots incorporated in the floral decoration (figs. 3, 4).



Fig. 3: Floral decoration

The Ulm Mahzor

Munich, BSB Cod. hebr. 3, II:78


Fig. 4: Floral decoration

The London Ashkenazi Haggadah

Ulm, c.1460 

Meir Jaffe (scribe)

Bämler of Augsburg and Joel ben Simeon (artists)

London, BL, Add. 14762, fol. 8v

(Goldstein, facsimile 1985)


Fig. 4: Floral decoration The London Ashkenazi Haggadah Ulm, c.1460 Meir Jaffe (scribe) Bämler of Augsburg and Joel ben Simeon (artists) London, BL, Add. 14762, fol. 8v (Goldstein, facsimile 1985)

As mentioned above, the London Ashkenazi Haggadah was copied by the scribe Meir Yaffe (Glatzer 1991, p. 140), and Joel ben Simeon has signed as its painter. Indeed, Joel illuminated part of the London Haggadah, but the illuminations which show resemblances to our Mahzor were executed by an artist identified as Johannes Bämler of Augsburg (Edmunds 1980, pp. 28-29; Beier 2004, pp. 64-65) or from Bämler’s workshop (Zirlin 1995 (Viator), pp. 268-273). Bämler (c.1435-1504) was a Christian scribe, illuminator, bookseller, printer and bookbinder (Narkiss 1991, pp. 30, 35; Edmunds 1993, pp. 30, 38). One of his few signed works is the Double Leaf Art dated 1457. This leaf shows similarity to the art of our Mahzor's second volume: the saint (possibly St. Paul) in the upper left quatrefoil of the leaf (fig. 5) resembles the water-carrier in the zodiac medallion of our Mahzor (fig. 6): both are depicted on a gold ground, have wide faces and pointed chins, heavy eye-lids, and similar modeling around the mouth. Despite the similarity, the figures are not by the same hand: they suggest rather the style of Bämler's workshop.



Fig. 5: St. Paul (?), detail

The Double Leaf Art by Iohannes Bämler, 1457

New York, PML MS 45, fol. 1v

(Beier 2004, fig. 15)

Fig. 6: Bucket, zodiac sign

The Ulm Mahzor

Munich, BSB Cod. hebr. 3, II:287v


Written sources of the time do not mention Bämler's workshop or the employment of apprentices or assistants by him. However, a guild protocol of c.1460 mentions that Bämler was the teacher of Thoman Burgkmair, father of the painter Hans Burgkmair (Edmunds 1993, p. 30; Beier 2004, p. 68). Also, the Augsburg tax records for 1463 show that Bämler’s taxes were doubled from the previous year either because of his wife's death or because his workshop was flourishing and could serve Jewish customers such as Jacob Mattathias of Ulm (Edmunds 1993, p. 31).



Fig. 7: Pen-drawn monkey

The Ulm Mahzor

Munich, BSB Cod. hebr. 3, II:268


Fig. 8: Pen-drawn monkey

The Washington Haggadah

Germany (?), 1478

Joel ben Simeon (scribe and artist)

Washington, Library of Congress

Hebraic Section MS 1, fol. 15v

(Weinstein, facsimile, 1991)


Fig. 9a: Pen-drawn bird

Moskowitz Mahzor, fol. 3v

Joel ben Simeon (scribe and artist)

Florence 1492 (?)

Jerusalem, NLI Heb. 40 1384, fol. 3v

(Zucker 2005, p. 74)

Fig. 9b: Pen-drawn profile

Moskowitz Mahzor, fol. 1v

Joel ben Simeon (scribe and artist)

Florence, 1492 (?)

Jerusalem, NLI Heb. 40 1384, fol. 1v

(Zucker 2005, p. 87)

Bämler was the main painter of the London Ashkenazi Haggadah (Edmunds 1980, pp. 32-33). His artwork was shared with Joel ben Simeon, who must have worked in his workshop and whose style can be recognized in the second volume of our Mahzor. See for example the pen-drawn monkey in our Mahzor (fig. 7), which was executed by Joel in Bämler's workshop (Zirlin, 1995 (Viator), pp. 273, 278; Zirlin 2006, p. 292). The monkey, one of Joel’s favorite motifs, also appears in the Washington Haggadah of 1478 (fig. 8). The delicate acanthus scrolls incorporating human faces in profile, a bird and a rabbit (fig. 7) were likewise executed in Joel’See below, "Additional Remarks"

Suggested Reconsdivuction
Instruction for the reader: Vol. I: a 15th-16th century Ashkenazi hand added in semi-cursive script instructions to the reader for alternative texts: Do not say … and begin … e.g. I:1, two inscriptions in the outer margin: אין אומרים זה המתחיל אמנם (אשמנו עצמו מספר ...) ומדלגין/ אותו ומתחילין תעלה ארוכה. אין אומרים כי נכתב לעיל. By another hand (I:252), next to the piyyut :אתה ברחמיך הרבים רחם אין אומרים זה ומתחיל/ ובכן לנורא עליהם באימה יעריצו/ מעבר לדף. Instruction for the cantor: Yet another hand of the 15th-16th century added instruction for the cantor (I:204): כאן מתחיל החזן, and the hand of I:1 completed a few phrases in some piyyutim (e.g. I:299v, 419). A custom of the Maharil: Vol. I:279v, next to the piyyutהוא אלוהינו , a 15th-16th century Ashkenazi hand reports a custom practised by the Maharil (Jacob b. Moses Moellin, c.1365-1427, Rabbi of Mainz): while the congregation recites הוא אלוהינו, the Maharil would say these verses: בשעה שהציבור אומר הוא אלהינו/ היה מהרי'ל אומר אילו פסוקי'(ם)/ אתה הראת לדעת כי ה' הוא/ אלהי(ם) אין עוד מלבדו ידעת/ היום והשבות אל לבבך כי ה' הוא/ האלוהי'(ם) בשמים ממעל ועל הארץ/ מתחת אין עוד/ שמע ישראל ה' אלהינו ה' אחד/ הן לה' אלהי השמים ושמי השמים/ הארץ וכל אשר בה כי ה' אלהי(ם) הוא/ אלהי האלהי'(ם) ואדוני האדני(ם) האל/ הגדול הגיבור והנורא אשר לא ישא/ פנים ולא יקח שוחד כי שם ה' אקרא/ הבו גודל לאלהינו יהי שם ה' מבורך/ מעתה ועד עולם. Owner's inscription: Vol. II:1, in the upper part of the page, in semi-cursive Ashkenazi script in dark brown ink, probably by a later owner: כמ'(ר) משלם ויעקב בני כמ'(ר) זימלן סגל זצל מבית המשלמי (Meshulam and Jacob the sons of the late Zimlen Segal of the Meshalmi family, probably the sons of Zemel Meshulam Zalman bar Yaakov Halevi Epstein who served as Rabbi in Frankfurt in the 1470s (Yuval 1988, pp. 235-9)). Censor’s deletion of anti-Christian texts in the two volumes: Vol. I:212v, 356:היום תדרוש דם עבדיך השפוך אמן ; I:143v: ;הגוים אימים...I:214v: נקום לעינינו; I:231v: ועולתה תקפוץ פיה; I:146v-147v: מלכותם (passim), framed to denote deletion of the text. Vol. II:76, 91v, 148, 298v, 311, 369v: In the text of aleinu the following words were erased leaving blank lines: שהם משתחוים ... לא יושיע (for they prostrate themselves before vanity and emptiness and pray to a God that saveth not); II:233v: לצוררים להאביד; II:234v: .וצורנינו תכחישה Augustinian Monastery in Polling (upper Bavaria) of 1744: On the front pastedown of the two volumes there is an exlibris (124 x 82 mm) of the Augustinian monastery where the manuscripts were kept until the secularisation of the Bavarian monasteries in 1802/3, when the manuscripts entered the Munich Court Library. Another Hebrew manuscript from Polling kept in the BSB library is the earliest known complete Babylonian Talmud of 1342 from France (Cod. hebr. 95; see Dannhauer 1991, p. 63, and Remarks). Stamps of the Court and State Library: Vols. I:1 and II:1, 370v, in the lower margin: an oval ink-stamp with the previous name of the library BIBLIOTHECA/ REGIA/ MONACENSIS. Shelf-marks and inscriptions: Vol. I, front pastedown (top to bottom): Shelf-marks of the Library in pencil: No=I.aa., and Cod. Hebr. 3. Latin and German inscriptions in cursive script in pencil: Cyclus Precum pro festo expiationis & Tabernaculorum Vol I Vol II/ Gebete Vol. I zum Versöhnungsfeste geschrieben 1614/Vol II Lauberhütenfeste 1615/ In Ulm von Rabbi Isaac. Vol. II, front pastedown (top to bottom): No=1b, and cod. hebr. 3. N. 3101. In pen: Blatt 27 ist halb (fol. 27 in half); Blatt 28 fehlt (fol. 28 missing) (20.8.1957). In pencil: Blatt 300 fehlt (fol. 300 missing) (31.1.1958). Vol. I, front flyleaf, in square Ashkenazi script in black ink: מחזור ליום הכיפורים (Mahzor for the Day of Atonement). Vol. II, front flyleaf, in square Ashkenazi script in black ink: מחזור לסוכות (Mahzor for Sukkot). Library stickers: On back pastedown and spine of both volumes: Cod. Hebr. 3.
Main Surveys & Excavations
Abbreviations BAV Vatican, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana BL London, British Library BSB Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek CJA Jerusalem, Center for Jewish Art, The Hebrew University: • Narkiss Archive • Schubert Archive • Sed-Rajna Archive • CJA Documentation HLHB Darmstadt, Hessische Landes- und Hochschulbibliothek HUC Cincinnati, Hebrew Union Collage IM Jerusalem, Israel Museum JTS New York, Theological Seminary of America NLI (olim JNUL) Jerusalem, National Library of Israel PML New York, Pierpont Morgan Library SUB Hamburg, Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Bibliography Beier 2004 A. Beier, "Missalien massenhaft. Die Bämler-Werkstatt und die Augsburger Buchmalerei im 15.Jahrhundert", Codices manuscripti, 48/49 (2004), pp. 55-72. Beit-Arié 1993 M. Beit-Arié, "Joel Ben Simeon's Manuscripts: A Codicologer's View", The Makings of the Medieval Hebrew Book, Jerusalem 1993, pp. 25-39. Dannhauer 1991 P. G. Dannhauer, “The Hebraica Collection of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich”, Hebrew Studies, London 1991, pp. 62-64. Darmstadt Pessach-Haggadah, facsimile 1972 Facsimile Edition of the Darmstadt Pessach- Haggadah. Codex Orientalis 8 der Hessischen Landes- und Hochschulbibliothek Darmstadt, Text by Joseph Gutmann, Hermann Knaus, Paul Pieper and Erich Zimmermann, Berlin 1972. Davidson 1924-1933 I. Davidson, Thesaurus of Medieval Hebrew Poetry, New York 1924–1933. Edmunds 1980 S. Edmunds, "The Place of the London Haggadah in the Work of Joel ben Simeon", Journal of Jewish Art, 7 (1980), pp. 25-34. Edmunds 1993 S. Edmunds, "New Light on Johannes Bämler", Journal of the Printing Society, 22 (1993), pp. 29-53. Parker and Little 1994 E. C. Parker and C. T. Little, The Cloisters Cross: its Art and Meaning, London 1994. EJ, Augsburg Encyclopaedia Judaica, Keter, Jerusalem 1971, s.v. Augsburg. EJ, Ulm Encyclopaedia Judaica, Keter, Jerusalem 1971, s.v. Ulm. Fishof 2001 I. Fishof, Written in the Stars: Art and Symbolism of the Zodiac (Catalogue of an exhibition, spring-summer 2001 at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem), Jerusalem 2001 (Hebrew). Germania Judaica, 1995 Germania Judaica, Part. III: 1350-1519, Arye Maimon, A. Mordechai Breuer and Yacov Guggenheim (ed.), vol. 2, Tübingen 1995. Glatzer 1991 M. Glatzer, "The Ashkenazic and Italian Haggadah and the Haggadot of Joel ben Simeon", The Washington Haggadah: A Facsimile Edition of an Illuminated 15th century Hebrew Manuscript at the Library of Congress signed by Joel ben Simeon, Myron M. Weinstein (ed.), Washington 1991, pp. 139-169. Goldstein, facsimile 1985 D. Goldstein, The Ashkenazi Haggadah: a Hebrew Manuscript of the Mid-15th Century from the Collections of the British Library, notes on the illuminations, transcription and English translation by David Goldstein, facsimile, London 1985. Goldschmidt 1970, I&II ד' גולדשמידט, מחזור לימים הנוראים לפי מנהגי בני אשכנז לכל ענפיהם, ירושלים 1970, 2 כרכים: כרך א – ראש השנה, כרך ב – יום כיפור (D. Goldschmidt, Days of Awe Ashkenazi Mahzor, Jerusalem 1970. Two volumes: I: New Year; II: Day of Atonement). Goldschmidt-Y. Fraenkel 1981ד' גולדשמידט וי' פרנקל, מחזור סוכות לפי מנהגי בני אשכנז לכל ענפיהם, ירושלים 1981 (D. Goldschmidt and Y. Fraenkel, Sukkot Ashkenazi Mahzor, Jerusalem, 1981). Gronemann 2006 S. Gronemann, The Extant 15th-Century Ashkenazi Illuminated Manuscripts of Meshal Hakadmoni by Isaac ibn Sahula, Ph.D. Thesis, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2006 (Hebrew, unpublished). Gutmann 1970 J. Gutmann, "Thirteen Manuscripts in Search of an Author: Joel Ben Simeon, 15th- Century Scribe-Artist", Studies in Bibliography and Booklore, vol. 9, Nos. 2-3 (1970), pp. 76-95. Heawood 1950 E. Heawood, Watermarks of the 17th and 18th Centuries, Hilversum 1950. Inkunabeln 2009 Als die Lettern laufen lernten : Medienwandel im 15. Jahrhundert ; Inkunabeln aus der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek München (Ausstellung 19. August - 31. Oktober 2009; Ausstellungskataloge / Bayerische Staatsbibliothek 81, B. Wagner (ed.), Wiesbaden 2009. Jüdische Lebenswelten 1991 Jüdische Lebenswelten Katalog, A. Nachama and G. Sievernich (ed.), Berlin 1991. Katzenstein 1982 U.E. Katzenstein, "Mair Jaffe and Bookbinding Research", Studies in Bibliography and Booklore, 14 (1982). pp. 17-28. Krautheimer 1994 R. Krautheimer, Synagogues in the Middle Ages, Jerusalem 1994 (Hebrew). Landsberger 1940 F. Landsberger, “The Cincinnati Haggadah and its Decorator”, Hebrew Union College Annual, 15 (1940), pp. 543-552. Landsberger 1941 F. Landsberger, "The Jewish Artist before the Time of Emancipation", Hebrew Union College Annual, 16 (1941), pp. 321-414. Mellinkoff 1999 R. Mellinkoff, Antisemitic Hate Signs in Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts from Medieval Germany, Jerusalem 1999. Narkiss 1991 B. Narkiss, "The Art of the Washington Haggadah", The Washington Haggadah: A Facsimile Edition of an Illuminated 15th century Hebrew Manuscript at the Library of Congress signed by Joel ben Simeon, Myron M. Weinstein (ed.), Washington 1991, pp. 27-102. Parker and Little 1994 E. C. Parker and C. T. Little, The Cloisters Cross: its Art and Meaning, London 1994. Sed-Rajna 1983 G. Sed-Rajna, Le mahzor enluminé.‎ Les voies de formation d’un programme iconographique, Leiden 1983. Shalev-Eyni 2001 S. Shalev-Eyni, The Tripartite Mahzor, Ph.D. Thesis, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2001 (Hebrew, unpublished). Shalev-Einy 2004 S. Shalev-Eyni, "Scholion's Fabulous Five", Scholion News, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Newsletter 3 (Spring 2004). Spitzer 1979 S. Spitzer, Sefer Haminhagim (Rulings and Customs) of Rabbi Esik Tirna (Mifal Torath Chachmey Ashkenaz Machon Yerushalayim) Jerusalem 1979 (Hebrew). Steinschneider 1895 M. Steinschneider, Die Hebräischen Handschriften der K.Hof- und Staatsbibliothek in München, Munich 1895. Weinstein, facsimile 1991 M. M. Weinstein (ed.), The Washington Haggadah: A Facsimile Edition of an Illuminated Manuscript at the Library of Congress Signed by Joel ben Simeon, M. Myron Weinstein (ed.), Washington 1991. Yaniv 1989 B. Yaniv, "The origins of the `Two-Column Motif` in European Parokhot", Journal of Jewish Art, 15 (1989), pp. 26-43. Yaniv 2008 B. Yaniv, "The Mappa (Wrapper) and the Torah Mantle in Ashkenaz in the Middle Ages", Studies on the History of the Jews of Ashkenaz. Presented to Eric Zimmer, Gershon Bacon, Daniel Sperber and Aharon Gaimani (ed.), Jerusalem 2008, pp. 107-134 (Hebrew). Yuval 1988 I. J. Yuval, Scholars in Their Time: The Religious Leadership of German Jewry in the Late Middle Ages, Jerusalem 1988 (Hebrew). Zirlin 1995 Y. Zirlin, The Early Works of Joel ben Simeon A Jewish Scribe and Artist in the 15th Century, Ph.D. Thesis The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1995 (Hebrew, unpublished). Zirlin 1995 (Viator) Y. Zirlin, "Joel Meets Johannes: A Fifteenth-Century Jewish-Christian Collaboration in Manuscript Illumination", Viator, 26 (1995), pp. 265-282. Zirlin 2006 Y. Zirlin, "Meir Jaffe and Joel Ben Simeon: Working Relations between Jewish Scribes and a Christian Atelier", Auskunft, Nordhausen, vol. 26, 2 (2006), pp. 287-309. Zucker 2005 S. Zucker, The Moskowitz Mahzor of Joel ben Simeon, Jerusalem 2005.
Short Name
Full Name
Original Manuscript
Michal Sternthal | 2008
Michal Sternthal, Prof. Aliza Cohen-Mushlin, Yaffa Levy | 2009-2012; 2008-2013; 2009, 2013
Architectural Drawings
Computer Reconsdivuction
Section Head
Michal Sternthal Project head:Prof. Aliza Cohen-Mushlin |
Language Editor
Christine Evans | 2013
Supported by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation |
Negative/Photo. No.