Hebrew Typography:
Calligraphy projects by students of Yerachmiel Schechter from “new” Bezalel, part 3

Micha Ullman, one of Israel’s top sculptors, recipient of the Israel Prize and one of Yerachmiel Schechter’s students, writes in his memories “Perhaps I’ll start with how I became a sculptor. In ‘Bezalel’ we studied calligraphy with Yerachmiel Schechter who was an architect, calligraphy with a nib.  My final project was about Shabbat. He looked at my work and after few minutes said “very good”. I told him, wait a moment, I’m not completely satisfied with the letters. He replied, I wasn’t looking at the letters, I was looking at the spaces. It took me about seven years to understand this sentence until I became a sculptor…” (from the Adi foundation website)

Here, a calligraphy by Ulman the student (1961) and his autograph on the back side

(Courtesy of Schechter Archive, Emuna Collage, Jerusalem)

Hebrew Typography:
Calligraphy projects by students of Yerachmiel Schechter from “new” Bezalel, part 2

The Shadow  Clock, a calligraphy-illustration project by Eric Kolmanik, one of Yerachmiel Schechter’s talented students in the ‘new’ Bezalel. Around 1960.

Sketches of the design

(Courtesy of Schechter Archive, Emuna Collage, Jerusalem)

Hebrew Typography:
Calligraphy projects by students of Yerachmiel Schechter from “new” Bezalel, part 1

An exquisite glimpse into the treasure box of calligraphy projects from the late ’50s and the early ’60s created by students of the legendary teacher Yerachmiel Schechter, courtesy of the Schechter archives at Emuna college.
The first project is unsigned and not dated. The second project was created by the student Eliahu (Metuka) Schwartz who, after graduating from Bezalel and training at École des Beaux-Arts, Paris, would establish and head the department of graphic design at the academy of design and education, Wizo Haifa, for years to come.

Art critic Gideon Ofrat writes on his website: “….at the script department of ‘new’ Bezalel, Yerachmiel Schechter seeks the connection between the design of a letter to the instrument it was written with. After the period of writing letters in the style of the bible during Shatz’s Bezalel (Raban type for example), ‘new’ Bezalel searched for a more ‘scientific’ and functional approach to the question of designing a letter.”

Yerachmiel Schechter, who was head of the “new” Bezalel academy for two years (1955-1957), was known for his strict typographic design education. As an independent designer he created, among other things, letters for the sole use of the young El-Al company, as well as the logo of “Am oved” publishers.

Hebrew Typography:
A dozen pages from the Cairo Geniza

The Cairo Geniza is the younger sibling of the Dead Sea Scrolls archive. This modest catalog, published in 1984 for the Geniza’s exhibition in the Shrine of the Book at the israel museum (currator: Magen Broshi), holds a dozen representing pages from the Geniza- excerpts from the Hebrew bible, external literature (the book of Ben Sirach), Talmudic literature, liturgical hymn and even from manuscripts of Yehuda Halevi and Harambam. This diversity allows a rare peek into the history of the Hebrew script in the middle ages.

Ketuba from the Land of Israel, 11th century

Books of Chronicles 2, 1100 BC

New book:
Mastering Hebrew Calligraphy

Izzy Pludwinksky is a calligrapher, artist, calligraphy teacher and a Sofer STaM located in Jerusalem. Recently, his book Mastering Hebrew Calligraphy was published (Toby Press). Complete with over 200 full-color illustrations and contributions from some of the world’s top Hebrew calligraphers, this is a beautiful and informative book.

Hebrew Typography:
The manuscript collection of the Jewish museum in Prague


A few spectacular samples were sent recently by Olga Sixtová, curator of the ancient manuscripts collection in the Jewish museum in Prague.

Throughout the past year, Sixtová has labored on the preparations for a major exhibition commemorating 500 years of Hebrew print in the Czech Republic, scheduled to open during 2012.

Hebrew Typography:
Guest writer Eliahu Misgav on the tradition of the “looped” letters

For almost twenty years I’ve been reading during Shabbats and holidays, and I never came across the “looped letters”, until I had the chance to look at a Torah book that was brought to Israel from Romania or Hungary, where I found examples to this graphic tradition.

 The “looped letters” are Ketav Stam letters that were passed on by one writer to the other in a strange and unusual tradition.  As years went by the tradition was forgotten, and so it is very rare to find a Torah book written using “looped letters”.

This magnificent tradition is mentioned in Sefer HaTemunah, and even HaRambam mentioned it in his Hilchot Tefillin and Mezuzahand book of Torah:

“He shall shine in the large letters and in the small letters, and in the punctuated letters and in the letters that are strange in form as the looped Peyen (the “Pe” letters) and the crooked letters as the writers copied from one another…”

Interesting enough, traces of this tradition could be found in some Yemeni communities on the one hand, and in European and Ukrainian communities on the other. Ephraim Sofer of Brody, for example, who was the writer of Haba’al Shem Tov, followed this tradition as could be seen in the Torah books written by him.

This tradition was also documented in Tagi book (published in Paris during the 18th century), as well as in the book of Rabbi Menachem Kasher, “Torah Sheleimah”, that documented around one hundred and fifty strange (“looped”) letter drawings and their location in the Torah.

Hebrew Typography:
Shenkar design archive & research center website is open for the public

Shenkar design archive & research center website opened for public viewing about three weeks ago, as reported by Samlil blog. The blog indicates that “There are 14,000 displayed items out of a total of 40,000 that were scanned, photographed and retouched by the staff of the center and are waiting for publication.”

The blog adds “Due to copyright constraints, the items could not be viewed in a magnified mode. The center holds the files in high quality, in hope that in the future these constraints will be removed (at least in part), so it will be able to achieve its goal and to allow designers and students to examine and analyze the items. More about the activities of the center and the possibility to donate items will be published soon.”

Hebrew Typography:
FF Meta Hebrew- A collaboration between Oded Ezer and Erik Spiekermann

FontShop international uploaded FF Meta Hebrew to its site. FF Meta Hebrew was designed by Oded Ezer and is the Hebrew version of FF Meta, originally designed by German typography master Erik Spiekermann.

Erik Spiekermann (right) and Oded Ezer. Long collaboration

The font is a result of a long collaboration between the two, and it consists of four different weights (Book, Bold, Book Italic and Bold Italic.

four weights of the font

FF Meta Hebrew could be purchased only through FontShop website.

an early sketch of the letter 'Pe'

Hebrew Typography:
Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts Online

The British Library announced in it’s blog that all of the illuminated manuscripts, including those with significant decoration from it’s important collections of Hebrew manuscripts, are now finely included in their Catalogue.

“These Hebrew illuminated manuscripts range in date from the 10th to the 18th century, and their geographical division is just as wide, encompassing Europe, Northern Africa and the East. Most of them contain religious works, such as biblical and liturgical texts, but there are also a number of legal, philosophical and scientific books. You can read more here about the decoration and script of our Hebrew manuscripts.”