Rabbinical manuscripts of Judah Monis, ca. 1700s
About this Item
- Monis, Judah , 1683-1764
- .06 cubic feet (1 volume)
- Harvard University Archives
This leather-bound volume contains ten handwritten Hebrew texts presumably compiled by Judah Monis in the early 18th century. The pieces range from three to 150 pages on different sized leaves and appear to be in multiple hands. The last page of the volume has the struck-through inscription, "Judah Monis' Book" and accompanies a 44-page text. The texts are unattributed and undated, but have been identified as transcriptions of cabalistic writings and include a short biography of Isaac Luria (1533-1572) and extracts from the work of Luria, Hayyim ben Joseph Vital, Jacob ben Hayyim Zemah, Abraham ben Isaac of Granada, and Naphtali Bachrach. The transcriptions appear to be unattributed and undated.
Judah Monis (1683-1764), a Jewish scholar and educator, was an instructor of Hebrew at Harvard College between 1722 and 1760. Monis was born on February 4, 1683, likely in Italy or the Barbary States. He immigrated to New York City in the early 1700s, and later moved to Massachusetts. Monis converted to Christianity and, on April 30, 1722, the Harvard Corporation appointed Monis an "instructor of the Hebrew Language." In 1723, Monis received an AM from Harvard, becoming the first Jewish person to receive an advanced degree in the colonies. In 1735, with the financial support of the Corporation, Monis published the first Hebrew textbook in America: "Dickdook leshon gnebreet, A Grammar of the Hebrew tongue." Monis taught at Harvard for almost forty years, but his teaching responsibilities waned over time, and Monis struggled with a reputation as an ineffective teacher and disciplinarian. Monis had married Abigail Marret (d. 1760) in 1724, and in 1760, Monis retired from Harvard and went to live with his brother-in-law John Martyn, minister of the second parish in Westboro, Mass. Monis died on April 25, 1764.