(JTA) — The oldest complete copy of the Hebrew Bible as we know it today is about to go on sale — and it could well become the most expensive book or document ever sold.
Written by a single Jewish scribe on 400 pages of parchment about 1,100 years ago, the Codex Sassoon is estimated to fetch $30 million to $50 million when it is sold by Sotheby’s auction house this May.
Before then, the book is embarking on a worldwide tour that will include stops in London, Tel Aviv and more. Those who view it will lay eyes on one of only two known ancient manuscripts comprising almost the entire Hebrew Bible — along with the Aleppo Codex, which is incomplete after hundreds of pages went missing in the 20th century.
“Now that the Codex has been definitively dated as the earliest, most complete text of its kind, it stands as a critical link from the ancient Hebrew oral tradition to the modern, accepted form of the Hebrew Bible that remains the standardized version used today,” said Richard Austin, Sotheby’s global head of books and manuscripts.
The Codex Sassoon is named after the book collector David Solomon Sassoon, who acquired it in 1929 for 350 British pounds, the equivalent of about $28,000 today, when it resurfaced after 600 years.
Sassoon added his bookplate to the inside cover of the binding, extending a centuries-long string of inscriptions detailing the book’s Jewish ownership, much of it throughout what is present-day Syria. The record does not show what happened between when the synagogue where it had been housed was destroyed and Sassoon’s acquisition.
But for the last century, it has been in private collections, in contrast to the other books near its caliber which are owned by major museums and are on display. What remains of the Aleppo Codex can be viewed at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, while a later but more complete copy is on display in Russia.
The book’s latest owner is Jacqui Safra, part of the storied Jewish banking family, who paid for carbon dating that put its age at about 1,100. The book was briefly displayed at the British Museum in 1982.
Its value won’t be determined until after the auction on May 16, but Sotheby’s officials said they believed that its final price could top the $43.2 million that the CEO of a hedge fund paid in 2021 for a first-edition copy of the U.S. Constitution sold by the auction house.
Its value, they say, goes far beyond the page.
“Codex Sassoon marks a critical turning point in how we perceive the history of the Divine word across thousands of years,” said Sharon Mintz, Sotheby’s senior Judaica specialist for books and manuscripts, “and is a transformative witness to how the Hebrew Bible has influenced the pillars of civilization – art, culture, law, politics — for centuries.
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Focus group Oct. 11 at Simkin Centre for people concerned about personal care homes
As Manitobans have gone to the polls and with a new legislative assembly about to begin a new four-year term, the challenges of long-term and continuing care homes need to be communicated.
MARCHE, the Manitoba Association of Residential and Community Care Homes for the Elderly will be holding a focus group on Wednesday, October 11 that is intended to provide the community at large a forum to express thoughts and provide ideas and recommendations for the future.
Please join us on Wednesday, October 11th at the Saul & Claribel Simkin Centre. We look forward to hearing from you.
See poster below for more information and how to register to attend.
Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.
Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary
By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”
Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)