[JUDAICA]. Prayers for Shabbat, Rosh-Hashanah, and Kippur, or, The Sabbath, the Beginning of the Year, and the Day of Atonements; with the Amidah and Musaph of the Moadim, or Solemn Seasons. According to the Order of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews. Translated by Isaac Pinto. And for him printed by John Holt, in New York. A.M. 5526 [1765-66].
4to (7 1/8 x 5½ in.). (iv), 190, (i).pp. Roman and italic type. (Title on a stub with short marginal repaired, gutter margins pp.46-47 and pp.130-131 browned from the silk bookmark [still present]; clean marginal tears or paper flaws to K2 and M4, penultimate leaf bb3 with small hole restored catching a letter, bb4 (Errata page) with a few ink scribbles and gutter margin reinforced). Early sheep, edges stained red (rebacked, edges neatly restored, new endleaves). Brown morocco gilt clamshell case. Rosenbach 47; Sabin 62292; Evans 10344 (second state title-page with correct spelling of "Beginning," and with Pinto's name in italics); Karp, Judaic Treasures of the Library of Congress, 301).
FIRST EDITION OF THE FIRST COMPLETE JEWISH PRAYERBOOK PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES
A very rare American imprint which constitutes the first full Jewish prayerbook issued in the U.S., preceded only by the far less substantial Form of Prayer Performed at Jews Synagogue, New York, 1760 (Shipton & Mooney 41133) and Evening Service of Rosh-Hashanah and Kippur, New York, 1765 (Evans 8890). Isaac Pinto, its translator, was a member of the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, Congregation Shearith Israel in New York, whose tiny Jewish population probably totalled no more than 300 souls at this date. He sets out in his preface his motives in presenting this English translation of the liturgy. In his preface Pinto acknowledges that "a veneration for the language [Hebrew], sacred by being that in which it pleased God Almighty to reveal himself to our ancestors, and a desire to preserve it, in firm persuasion that it will again be re-established in Israel" are cogent reasons for "performing Divine service in Hebrew." But that language, he continues, is "imperfectly understood by many" and "by some, not at all." In Europe, he notes, "the Spanish and Portuguese Jews have a translation in Spanish," but "that not being the case in the British Dominions in America," he has undertaken an English translation for the first time, "not without Hope that it will tend to the improvement of many of my Brethren in their Devotion."
Holt, the printer of the prayerbook, evidently owned no Hebrew types, and in an interesting "Advertisement" on verso of the title, explains that he has endeavored to use an italic face to stand for certain Hebrew characters like "Heth" and "Ain." In addition, since "some proper names are wrote more agreably to the Hebrew orthography," he has printed such names as "Mosheh" for Moses, "Tzion" for Zion, etc. VERY RARE.