Detail of Lot 55, the Mishneh Torah.
NEW YORK - One of the challenges facing us as we prepared for the Steinhardt Judaica sale was how to order such a large quantity of material. Objects in the sale touch all aspects of Jewish life, whether in the home or synagogue, whether connected to holidays or life cycle events. We were struck by the wealth of early material. Most Judaica sales have one or two silver objects from the 18th century or earlier, so organizing a sale by category of object rather than date makes the most sense. In this case we were drawn to a chronological approach, with a brief introduction to the Jewish lifecycle, holidays and festivals at the beginning of the sale. We also felt it was important to provide a guide to the objects by situating them in their historical context. We called upon our consultant David Wachtel to give us the entire “sweep of Jewish history” in nine essays. They punctuate the beautiful Steinhardt catalogue accompanied by appropriate documentary images and we feel they add enormously to the understanding of the material. We are delighted to share them with you here.
I. The Jews in Antiquity
II. The Jews in the Medieval Period
III. The Jews in the Italian Renaissance
IV. The Jews in the Age of Mercantilism
V. The Jews in the Age of Enlightenment
VI. The Jews of Eastern Europe
VII. The Jews in the Age of Emancipation
VIII. The Jews of the East: The Ottoman Empire, North Africa and India
IX. The Jews in the Age of Migrations