The Russian Museum of Ethnography’s Judaica curator Shimon Iakerson PhD, will present this program at noon in the African and Middle Eastern Division Reading Room, Room LJ220 of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public; tickets not required.
The leading scholar in the field of Hebrew incunabula (books printed before the year 1501), and the author of several books on the subject, Iakerson is also senior researcher at the St. Petersburg branch of the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
In 2005, he received the first Honorable Medal presented at the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress in Jerusalem for his two-volume work, “Catalogue of Hebrew Incunabula from the Collection of the Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America” (New York and Jerusalem, 2004-2005).
In 2009, he won the Antsiferov Award, an international prize in honor of the historian N.P. Antsiferov, for his overall contributions to the field of St. Petersburg studies for his most recent work, “Jewish Treasures of Petersburg: Scrolls, Codices, Documents” (Evreiskie sokrovisha Peterburga), St. Petersburg 2008.
Iakerson’s book presents a selection of examples of 16th-17th century medieval manuscripts, incunabula and unique works such as richly illuminated manuscripts, individual pages of “lost” works, classic works and more. Unfortunately, the text of the 240-page text – with more than 140 color illustrations – is only in Russian. The cost is $299, through The Hermitage Museum online store.
See a newspaper article – Jewish Treasures Survive The Czars – about some of these treasures from the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times, from April 15, 1995. The Jewish Heritage Society here offers more information, as does the Petersburg Judaica Center. Here are details on a book, “Photographing the Jewish Nation: Pictures from S. An-sky’s Ethnographic Expeditions,” by Eugene M. Avrutin, ed, which includes 170 photos from the Pale of Settlement.
Sephardic researchers should know that St. Petersburg was home to Sephardim from the Netherlands (who were invited by the Czar), that the Russian court physician was the Sephardic Ribeira Sanchez, and that Russian collections hold Sephardic manuscripts.