HEBREW MANUSCRIPT - [Moses Gomez de Mesquita] (1688-1751), Collection of special prayers and laws and customs according to the practices of the Sephardic Congregation of London, as established by the Haham. [London, unsigned, c. 1745-46].
Fols. 1r-2v: prayer on the occasion of famine in England
Fols. 3r-7r: prayer for the Jews of Prague and Bohemia, threatened with expulsion by empress Maria Theresa, 1745
Fols. 7v-8v: first prayer on the occasion of the rebellion of the Scots against King George II in 1746
Fols. 9rv: prayer upon hearing of King George's victory in 1746
Fols. 10r-13r: last prayer on King George's victory in 1746
Fol. 13v: blank
Fols. 14r-20v: Seder ha-Get with sample texts of the deed of divorce (based on the rites of Salonika and Amsterdam)
Fols. 21r-23r: on writing the marriage contract ('when in London, write "the river Thames"')
Fols. 23v-24r: on writing the marriage contract for a levirate marriage Fol. 24v: on writing the marriage contract for a deaf man
Fols. 25rv: on writing a marriage contract as replacement for a lost one
Fols. 26rv: on writing a power of attorney
Fol. 27r: on providing kashrut certification for cheese and other food leaving the city
Fol. 27v: on certifying a ritual slaughterer for poultry
Fols. 28r-29v: on the affirmation of the Bet Din of a marriage by proxy Fol. 30rv: on certifying a ritual slaughterer
Fols. 31r-39v: on delivering a deed of divorce by a messenger
Fols. 40rv: on receiving a deed of divorce by a messenger
Fols. 41r-44v: short instructions for the chalitzah-ceremony in Hebrew and Portuguese
Fols. 45rv: on writing a 'get chalitzah'
45 leaves. Brown ink on brittle browned paper, leaf 19 repaired with slight loss of text, leaf 20 detached (also 43-45 partly detached), pages cut short without loss of text, several hairline tears throughout. Attractive Sephardic square and semi-cursive script, original foliation in Hebrew, fols. 27-29 misnumbered. Some prayers containing sentences in Portuguese. Detached.
The ascription to Moses Gomez de Mesquita, Haham of the London Sephardic Congregation from 1744 until his death in 1751, is based on comparison of the script with his signature on Isaac Nieto's ketubbah, in: M. Gaster, History of the Ancient Synagogue of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews (London 1901) p. 132 and on textual evidence, especially the special prayer for the Jews of Bohemia, which is known to have been written by Mesquita (see: A.M. Hyamson, The Sephardim of England (London 1951) p. 165) and appears in the manuscript (fols. 3r-7r). The very wording of the manuscript ('tefillah she-tikkanti...', etc.) equally suggests that it is an autograph. In the aforementioned work Gaster indicated with regard to Mesquita that 'of his literary works or any other achievements nothing has been preserved' (p. 130). It remains to be investigated what exactly has been Mesquita's role in the establishment of the London Sephardic customs, and what had already been established by his predecessors David and Isaac Nieto. It is clear that for such an investigation this manuscript is of crucial importance.
An important and interesting record of laws and customs of the Sephardic community of London.