In the Margins of a Medieval Jewish Prayer Book: The New SIMS-Katz MOOC

In Penn’s Libraries, one can find a particular battle-scarred volume. It is a large folio, rebound in old leather, damaged by fire, with margins cut, pages torn out, others stolen but then replaced, marked by a few clever patches to the parchment. There are marginal notes in a variety of inks and handwritings representing many generations of readers and amenders. It is a late thirteenth–early fourteenth-century Mahzor, or Jewish prayer book for the high holidays, originating from the German Rhineland.

Medieval Frenemies: Jewish and Christian Martyrs Had a Lot in Common

"Do not be saddened or troubled, good sister. Your brother will die today as a good Jew." These are the words reportedly spoken by a fourteenth-century mendicant friar, just before taking his own life. He had declared his conversion to Judaism, and despite his sister’s tearful entreaties, he chose a public and violent death over forcible return to his order. One Avraham ben Avraham Avinu, whose dramatic and literally iconoclastic antics made him the subject of at least three contemporary reports, did the same.