Saraval Collection

The impressive Leon Vita Saraval (1771–1851) collection of Jewish manuscripts was housed in the Jewish Theological Seminary in Breslau (Wrocław) until World War II. The Gestapo confiscated the Seminary’s library after Kristallnacht in 1938 and transferred it to various locations. Today, the Saraval collection is dispersed among various institutions in Warsaw, Moscow, Jerusalem, New York, Prague, and Wrocław; some volumes are in private hands and others have been lost. Part of the collection returned to Wrocław in December of 2004, with 34 Hebrew manuscripts and 5 incunabula that formed the most valuable part of the Saraval collection. The manuscripts span seven centuries, the oldest dating back to 1284–85, and the most recent to 1833. They originated in various points across Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, and include books written or printed on the territory of today’s Portugal, Spain, Algeria, Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Poland. All the main scribal traditions are represented, i.e., Sephardic (Spanish), Italian and Ashkenazi (German), along with the main types and styles of Hebrew script, as well as several fine examples of book illumination. The Collection is digitalized and can be accessed at Manuscriptorium.