Shabbetai Bass — autor, bibliograf i redaktor

Magdalena Bendowska

Shabbetai Bass — autor, bibliograf i redaktor

Inhabited by the end of the 17th century by ca. 350 thousand Jews, the Commonwealth of Poland was the largest marketplace for Jewish prints. Yet, in this country there was not a single active Hebrew printing house capable of satisfying the demand for Hebrew and Yiddish books. The printing houses in Kraków and Lublin turned out their last publications in 1672 and 1691 respectively. Polish Jews’ huge demand for books was met by foreign printers. Dutch printers exploited this situation to perfection. Amsterdam became the hub of Jewish printing and the main supplier of Hebrew books to the Commonwealth. In addition, Jewish printing houses gave work to printers and typesetters from Poland. One of them was Kalisz-born Shabbethai Bass (1641–1718). After studying in Prague, he finally settled in Amsterdam. There, he publishedSiftei Chachamim, his sub-commentary to Rashi’s commentary to the Pentateuch, next a guide for travelers entitledMasseket Derek Erez, and alsoSiftei Yeshenim, the first Jewish bibliography written by a Jewish author.

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