Image 1

Enlarge image

1 of 7

Mahzor (Roman rite)
Soncino/Casal Maggiore, 1485–1486
Printed by Bnei Soncino

This edition is the first printed comprehensive book of prayers. Previously, the only other known liturgical imprint was a Selihot printed in Barco in 1475. The fact that this mahzor follows the Roman rite, which was prevalent in Italy (where the work was printed) but not elsewhere, indicates the market-driven nature of the printing trade. The mahzor was published in two volumes. The first volume includes prayers for the weekday, Shabbat, Pesah, and fast days. The second volume includes the liturgy for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot, as well as the laws and customs that were standard to Italian liturgical manuscripts of the time.

The woodcut of the word Hosha'ana ("Save, I pray!") inaugurates the seven circuits around the bimah on the seventh day of Sukkot, known as Hosha'ana Rabbah. The Soncinos, like other Renaissance printers, enhanced the attractiveness of their books through the use of artistic borders and frames. They borrowed frames from other presses, and also commissioned their own frames, which were in turn used by subsequent printers.