This text was prepared by William Gross:
Literacy has always been a primary goal for Jews throughout the Diaspora. Even during he dark ages the knowledge of reading and writing was maintained. The study of the Holy texts was impossible without these skills and such study was the goal of every Jewish male. Education began at an early age. There are many books and single sheets in the Gross Family Collection that are testimony to the efforts made for teaching.
Apparently the first book printed in Eretz Israel for the teaching of Hebrew to children. Although printed in the Holy Land, it was intended for children in the Jewish communities in Persia and Caucasia. It was brought to the press by Nehemiah Mizrachi, who travelled from Persia to print the book, and returned to Persia with his finished work. The book is an aleph-bet primer, and relates to derech eretz and ethics for children. It also includes various blessings, a short Hebrew-Persian dictionary and mussar in Hebrew.
The title page shows and engraving of the Temple Mount.
The book was printed by Yisrael ben Avraham Bak, who was born in in 1797 in Berdichev, Ukraine. In 1815, he founded a printing press in Berdichev where he published 30 books until the press closed. In 1831 he made Aliyah to the Holy Land and settled in Safed where during the following year began Hebrew printing for the first time after 245 years. His press was damaged in both the peasant revolt of 1834 and the earthquake of 1837. The final destruction came with the Druze revolt of 1838, after which Bak left Safed and went to Jerusalem. In 1841 he once again established a Hebrew press. This was the first Hebrew press ever in the Holy city of Jerusalem. For 33 year Bak continued to print in Jerusalem, some 130 volumes in all and many single sheet publications, until his death in 1874. In addition to the importance of his printing activity, Bak was also a leader of the Chasidic community and with his son Nisan established the Tiferet Israel synagogue in Jerusalem for Chasidim.
Brought to Press by: Nachmiah ben Elchana Mizrachi