New Notable Acquisitions

Images of notable items recently acquired by the Judaica Collection at Yale University.

Blessing of the sun plaque, 1925.

Manuscript, ink and gouache on paper. Description from catalogue: This plaque was created in celebration of Birkat ha-Hammah, a special Jewish prayer recited once every twenty-eight years. According to the Babylonian Talmud (Tractate Berakhot 59b), every 28 years the sun returns to its celestial position at the time of the Creation. The Sages used this opportunity to institute a special prayer acknowledging God’s might and his creation of the world. The last time this blessing was recited was in April of 2009. The present lot was written and illustrated to commemorate the Blessing of the Sun that took place on Wednesday, April 8, 1925. Inscribed on the center of the panel is the blessing "Blessed are you, our God, King of the universe, who effects the work of creation." In addition, the plaque contains verses from Psalms that are recited as part of the ceremony including Psalm 148 (inscribed in roundels around the blessing), Psalm 19 (bottom left) and Psalm 121 (bottom right). The artist has further embellished the plaque with images of the zodiac, the sun and the moon, and two rampant lions which flank the blessing at center.

Click on images to enlarge.

Mizrah: Petroşani, Romania, 1864

Large plaque, designed to be hung on the eastern wall of a home or synagogue to indicate the direction for prayer. The plaque includes the traditional verse, "From the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof the Lord’s name is to be praised" (Psalm 113:3), as well as a gold, round background image at the top center representing the sun. At the four corners are images of the four animals from the Mishnah, "Yehudah ben Tema said: Be bold as a leopard, light as an eagle, swift as a deer, and strong as a lion to carry out the will of your Father in Heaven" (Pirke Avot 5:23). In the middle of the plaque are three drawings of sites from the Holy Land: the Tomb of Rachel, the Wailing Wall and the Tower of David. The inscription indicates that this Mizrah was a gift from Yehoshia ben Yehudah Hillel Biber of Petroseni to his son-in-law Meshulam ben Yosef Rubinstein of Karlsburg. The Mizrah is signed by the artist and dated a few days before Purim; perhaps it was given as a Purim gift. Hand calligraphed and illuminated by Marton (Mordekhai) Kaufman

Siegmund Forst (1904- )

Signed and numbered woodcuts by Siegmund Forst. Forst was born in Vienna and studied there in the Academy of Arts. He came to the United States in 1939.

Lighting the Hanukah candles, 1975.

The Hassidic Rabbi and his followers, 1981.

Memorial to those who perished in the Holocaust, 1981.

With the arrival of the month of Adar, one's happiness increases.

The month of Adar is a particularly joyous one because the festival of Purim takes place in that month. It is also the month that precedes Nissan, the month in which the holiday of Passover occurs. The two fish represent spring and fertility.

er Ryback (1897-1935)

Sketches by the noted artist Issachar Ber Ryback (1897-1935).

Two drawings made to illustrate the novel by the British writer, Israel Zangwill, King of the Schnorers

A shtetl (village) scene, 1917. Ryback had strong emotional ties to the shtetl world of Eastern Europe where he grew up. His best known work on the subject is Shtetl, Mayn Khoyever heym; a gedenkish (Shtetl, My destroyed home: A Remembrance). See:

Genesis by Domy Reiter-Soffer

The prints in the Genesis-Portfolio represent landscapes of various sites in Israel. Each one symbolizes a component of the emotional journey the artist experienced while creating it. He also composed a poem to accompany each image.

River Jordan Estuary at Dusk

Red sunset paints the heavens
Draws the earth's blood
Like crystals kissing the horizon
Silently shadows held by the neck of heaven
That burst through mountain ridges.
Acacia trees with their thin legs
Stand erect in anticipation
Cry out silently
For the coming of the cool wind.

High Tide in the Lake of Galilee

The water verges high
The Golan Rivers feeds its soul
From both sides the Jordan River holds its arms
So neither to thirst nor to dry.
Generations of forefathers surround it
Generations of understanding and wisdom
Planted its soul.
Reflections of Memories and Chronicles light its majesty
Still waiting for deliverance.

Roots - Mount Carmel After the Fire

Mount Carmel woke up from its slumber
Pine trees touched each other
Their roots aroused from their sleep
Like chariots of fire consumed in flames.
The mountain slopes erupted
Roots broke out through the sizzling rocks and stones
To breathe Genesis
Meandering in distress
To be reborn anew.

braham Rattner (1893-1978)

Abraham Rattner was an American artist who was born in Poughkeepsie, NY in 1893. He was well-known for his use of vivid color in his works. The works shown below are from his collection "In the Beginning".

Paradise Lost, 1972.

The Bush was Burning with Fire but the Bush was not Consumed, 1972.

Variations for the Menora, 1972.