Vatican Lends World’s Oldest Hebrew Book for New Jewish Museum


old-book-vaticanThe Vatican has loaned a 9th century siddur considered to be the oldest Hebrew publication in existence to the Jewish Museum in London. The Museum persuaded the library of the Catholic ruling body to allow the biblical commentary feature in its Hebrew Treasures from the Vatican and Major British Collections display, a three-month show which is the first major temporary exhibition at the centre since it reopened in March following a £10 million rebuild.

In an impressive set of fellow artefacts, a decadently-illustrated Torah from 15th century Spain and an image of the Bais Hamikdosh, come as further highlights.

Oxford’s Bodleian Library has provided 11 of the 24 manuscripts and books in the show, with eight coming from the British Library. The Vatican and Lambeth Palace Library have contributed three each, revealing religious tolerance and cultural interaction between Jews and non-Jews in the Muslim and Christian Worlds from the Middle Ages onwards.

Designed by Metropolitan Museum of Art collaborator Patrick Kinmouth, the exhibition contains illustrations and decorative designs reflecting styles from gothic Northern Europe to Italy and Spain.

Historian Simon Schama and the BBC’s Alan Yentob launched the show at a private view positioning Cherie Blair as the guest of honour. Her visit was backed by her famously spiritual husband, who said he hoped it would prove “another small building block in strengthening Jewish-Catholic relations in this country.”

Alan Yentob and Simon Schama look at the Sifra or Torat Kohanim, the oldest Hebrew document in book form, which is part of the display having been secured from the Vatican Library

“At a time when religious issues are often portrayed as creating division and unrest around the world, this exhibition demonstrates how positive connections can be made between Judaism, Christianity and Islam,” added Rickie Burman, the Museum Director.

“It is a reminder that in many cases our shared experience is stronger than our differences.”

{Culture24/ Newscenter}


  1. What a chutzpah of the Vatican to be holding onto any of our items. They have items from the second Bais Hamikdash, Hashem yirachem!!


    Lending a book for 3 weeks-a book that they shouldn’t even have in the first place-this demonstrates Religious cooperation and tolerance?

    Do you know where the largest library of rare Jewish books-sefarim and kisvay yadin are?

    the vatican.


    enough said.

  3. What do you mean they are lending it? They STOLE it! How do you think they got these things? After killing out a whole town of Yidden, they took all the booty! Now they LEND it?!
    It’s amazing what passes for respectability today. The Brits marched into other peoples lands, took back all their Genizos, and display it as a thief displaying someone else’s home with pride of achievement.
    Why don’t they just give it BACK? Who do these people think they are that they withhold or limit OUR seforim from being published, so that WE can learn OUR Torah?!

    ALSO, THEY Had stolen property from the Beis Hamikdash that they flaunt in the vatican. these items are the property of the jews that have been stolen by christians.
    why aren’t we protesting for the return of our stolen possesions?????????

  5. Kelim from the bais hamikdash in the vatikan is impossible. Such Kedusha in the avi havos hatumah is not shaich! Thats an old myth which has been debunked by our gedolim many times.

  6. The problem is to whom will they return all they stole and plundered? It’s probably better off by the goyim in the meantime than it is with the Israelis. At least the goyim have some tiny idea of the value of these items and lock up what they stole in a safe place, the Israelis don’t know how to take care of shaimos and don’t have any respect for ST”M.

  7. HaLeiVi sorry I dont understand your post about the Brits. It is the Vatican at fault here surely. They shouldnt have the siddur or naything else Jewish for that matter. The British are simply doing their normal job and Thank G-d for them I being British will be able to see this marvellous specimen iyh

  8. I’m not refering to this case itself. How did Oxford and British Museum get all those Kisvei Yad that we have to pay them for printing so that we can learn them?

  9. I prefer to think about what treasures are being revealed to the Jewish people. The financial cost is only a sign of how the united Jewish world values its faith. Hashem has given this gift to us. Though the motives of the Vatican may be questioned the power that rules over all of mankind is clear. Gratitude for such gifts should be our focus and the gratitude should be faced toward Hashem. Time should not be wasted over the Vatican but the knowledge that there are more treasures that await us is also a gift. Israel has plenty of battles as it is let us focus on uniting our people than complaining.