C18 English Machzor

18th century Machzor (Gaster Miscellaneous MS 1596) • The John Rylands

This eighteenth century English Machzor is from the John Rylands library and is part of a collection bequeathed by Rabbi Doctor Moses Gaster. A Machzor is a text that normally contains Hebrew prayers and liturgical poems both for everyday use and for special occasions. What makes this Machzor so unique is that the entire text has been translated into English and features no Hebrew at all.

Prayers for ‘Hanucah’ [Hannukah] • The John Rylands

The manuscript was researched by scholar Aaron Sterk, who believes that the English translation is based on a very early Spanish translation. He believes, due to errors and elisions in the text, that it may have been made by a non-Jewish scribe for a converted female user who could not read Hebrew. The handwriting and layout indicate that the manuscript dates from about 1750. Errors include the misspelling of various Hebrew words like Hannukkah, which you can see in the image.


Read about our in-person encounter with the Machzor here.

See more images from the Machzor here.


Discover more Hidden Treasures

Hidden Treasures: Celebrating the documents, photos and artefacts in British archives that tell the story of Jews in Britain