Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of light, takes place this year from the evening of 28th November through to the evening of 6th December. We have put together eight Hanukkah-related videos showing items from our collections, one for each night of the festival.
1. Title page of Mocatta Mahzor.
The Mocatta Mahzor (MS MOCATTA/2) is an Italian illuminated manuscript containing prayers for the whole year, including Hanukkah.
2. Prayers for Hanukkah
This video shows the prayers for Hanukkah from the Mocatta Mahzor. Italian mahzorim generally include not only prayers for the major festivals like Passover but also minor ones like Hanukkah, as well as ordinary weekdays and sabbaths.
Some prayerbooks contain piyyutim (liturgical poems) for special sabbaths, including the one(s) in Hanukkah – here’s one from the Mocatta Mahzor.
4. Hallel psalms
The Hallel psalms (Psalms 113-118) are recited on most festivals including Hanukkah. These are the Hallel psalms from the Mocatta Mahzor.
5. Binding of a 17th century Ḥumash
On the festival of light you can see how the light reflects off the binding and gilt edges of this Ḥumash (a volume containing the Five Books of Moses), which was printed in Amsterdam in 1665 or 1666. It has a fine binding of Dutch morocco, with gilt gauffred edges (STRONG ROOM MOCATTA QB 12 TAR c1) .
6. Title page of the Ḥumash
This video shows the coloured title page of the Ḥumash and part of the portion of Miḳets (Genesis 41:1-44:17), which is frequently read on the Sabbath during Hanukkah.
7. Odekha ki anafta
Here’s another Hanukkah piyyut (liturgical poem), Odekha ki anafta. It comes from a 19th century Viennese manuscript collection of piyyutim (MS MOCATTA/25). The gory illustration is from the story of Judith, who is often associated with Hanukkah.
8. Mocatta Haggadah
This is a bit of a stretch for Hanukkah as it’s actually from the Mocatta Haggadah (MS MOCATTA/1) for Passover. But it shows the Hallel psalms which are also recited on Hanukkah and it’s shiny and reflects the light on the festival of light!
If you’d like to learn more about the Mocatta Mahzor, UCL’s Jewish and Hebrew Studies Subject Liason Librarian has put together a video about the Mahzor and how it came into our collection! You can view it on the Special Collections Moodle Page – just self enrole in order to access the page.
Thank you to Vanessa Freedman for choosing books from the Mocatta collection and for writing about each item!