Following the decimation of a number of major Jewish population centers in the Rhine Valley during the First Crusade (1096), the affected communities recorded the names of those who had perished in special lists. Because it was the practice to read the names in public at certain points throughout the year, synagogues typically kept these lists on the almemar (= bimah, or central platform). With time, additional liturgical material meant to be recited by the precentor (with or without the congregation’s participation) was appended, as were yizkor (memorial) prayers on behalf of prominent leaders of Ashkenazic Jewry. The result was the Memorbuch, copied over and over from one generation to the next but usually personalized to meet the particular needs of the community for which it was intended.
The present lot is a Memorbuch skillfully copied and decorated by M.A. (Moses Aaron) Lorie (b. 1843) in 1863-1864. The Lorie family, relatives of Rabbi Solomon Luria (ca. 1510-1574) and descendants of Rabbi Abraham Abele Gombiner (ca. 1637-1683), had immigrated to London from Luntshits (present-day Łęczyca, Poland) in the mid-nineteenth century. Lorie’s brother, S.H. (Saul Henry; Hebrew: Sha’ul Zevi/Hirsch) Lorie (1833-1905), was an active supporter of London’s Hand in Hand Asylum, a charitable institution founded in 1840 to clothe, maintain, and house older Jewish men, and presented this Memorbuch to the organization in honor of their beloved and lamented mother, Rebecca Rachel Lorie (née Lilienstern), who had passed away 20 Adar 5623 (March 11, 1863).
(Two other manuscripts copied by M.A. Lorie using a very similar decorative program are known: an ethical will by Rabbi Moses Jekuthiel Kaufman Katz, author of Lehem ha-panim, and a genealogy of the Luria/Lorie family. One copy of these two documents is held privately while the other now forms part of the Gross Family Collection in Tel Aviv [MSS 315 and 316].)
Among its numerous interesting features, the Memorbuch includes the names (and some dates of death) of philanthropists who left bequests to the Asylum, as well as those who donated to it during their lifetimes. Moreover, a special E-l male rahamim prayer at the rear lists all of the (Ashkenazic) chief rabbis of English Jewry up to the year the book was produced (with the name of Nathan Marcus Adler [1803-1890] added later). The wealth of historical information of Anglo-Jewish concern included herein, combined with the artistry of its execution, make this Memorbuch an elegant witness to an ancient Ashkenazic tradition.
f. [1r]: English-language dedication page with floral and wreath motifs, surmounted by the insignia of the Hand in Hand Asylum; f. [1v]: blank;
f. 2r: Hebrew-language dedication page featuring an ornate archway with a crown set in the slot for the keystone, above a crest bearing S.H. Lorie’s name; f. 2v: blank;
f. 3r-v: weekday text of hazkarat neshamot for male and female departed relatives, followed by weekday text of mi she-berakh prayer for sick men and women;
ff. 3v-4r: Sabbath version of the above prayers;
f. 4v: mi she-berakh prayer for a successful journey; mi she-berakh prayer for a newborn baby girl, including baby naming; and birkat ha-gomel blessing recited publicly upon surviving a life-threatening event;
f. 5r: yehi ratson prayers recited by the precentor after the Torah reading on Monday and Thursday mornings;
ff. 5v-6r: various prayers recited by the precentor when the Torah is removed from the Ark and by the sexton before the start of the Torah reading;
ff. 6r-7v: blessings recited before and after the reading of the haftarah (lection from the Prophets) on Sabbaths, festivals, and the High Holidays;
ff. 7v-8r: yekum purkan and mi she-berakh prayers recited by the precentor for the welfare of the community and its rabbis;
f. 8v: prayer for the welfare of “Our most gracious Majesty Queen Victoria, Albert Edward Prince of Wales[,] The Princess of Wales, and all the Royal Family”;
f. 9r: the prayer recited on the Sabbath preceding a new Hebrew month;
f. 9v: av ha-rahamim prayer memorializing Jewish martyrs (particularly those who perished during the First Crusade), followed by a mi she-berakh prayer for those planning to observe the special post-festival Monday-Thursday-Monday cycle of fasts;
f. 10r-v: Sabbath text of hazkarat neshamot for male and female departed relatives, followed by yizkor prayers recited on festivals and Yom Kippur;
ff. 10v-11v: yizkor prayer for all those who had left bequests to the Hand in Hand Asylum, followed by a long list of names written in two columns (with later additions, some of which feature dates of death). Included on the list are the names of Frederick David Mocatta (1828-1905), president of the Asylum and an important Anglo-Jewish communal leader, as well as members of the Lorie family: Rebecca Rachel; Dora (S.H. Lorie’s wife; d. 1874); Michael Joseph (S.H. and M.A. Lorie’s father); and Baila (S.H. Lorie’s daughter). The latest date of death given is January 14, 1938;
f. 12r: E-l male rahamim prayer for all the (Ashkenazic) chief rabbis of England (up to that point in time): Aaron Hart, David Tevele Schiff, Hart Lyon, Saul Berlin, Solomon Hirschel, and Nathan Marcus Adler, among others;
f. 12v: mi she-berakh prayer recited on festivals and Yom Kippur on behalf of those who donate money in memory of the deceased, followed by a mi she-berakh prayer for the founders of the Asylum;
f. 13r: mi she-berakh prayer for those who fulfilled their promises to donate money to the Asylum during their lifetimes (including S.H. Lorie), followed by the colophon: “Given as a gift to the Hand in Hand Asylum in the year 624 [1863-1864] by Saul Zevi Lorie and written by Moses Aaron Lorie, his brother”; ff. 13v-14r: blank;
f. 14v: abbreviated reshuyyot prayers for the men honored to read the last and first pericopes of the Torah on Simhat Torah, added in a later hand.
S.H. Lorie, 16 Scarborough St, Goodman’s Fields, London, E (stamped in blind in gutter at head of ff. -13)
Siegmund Salfeld, Das Martyrologium des Nürnberger Memorbuches (Berlin: Leonhard Simion, 1898).
Tel Aviv, Gross Family Collection Ms. 315 (http://web.nli.org.il/sites/NLI/Hebrew/digitallibrary/pages/viewer.aspx?presentorid=MANUSCRIPTS&docid=PNX_MANUSCRIPTS000119739-1#|FL55562948)
Tel Aviv, Gross Family Collection Ms. 316 (http://web.nli.org.il/sites/NLI/Hebrew/digitallibrary/pages/viewer.aspx?presentorid=MANUSCRIPTS&docid=PNX_MANUSCRIPTS000119712-1#|FL55563708)
Magnus Weinberg, “Das Memorbuch,” Bayerische israelitische Gemeindezeitung 2,5 (May 7, 1926): 113-120.
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