Fragment of a Prayer Book from Yemen


Shown here is a German edition of a fragment from a Yemeni Jewish prayer book. It comprises seven prayers in verse written in Hebrew and Judeo-Arabic, with translation and extensive commentary in German. The fragment originated in Sanaa, the Yemeni capital. The scope of the work reflects the unique history of the Yemeni Jewish communities, who for centuries developed their own ways of religious and secular life, independent from outside influences. The translation and commentary on the liturgical poems are by Pinkas Heinrich, a scholar and rabbi who was born in 1861 in Jassy (present-day Romania). Following the wishes of his father, David, Pinkas dedicated his young life almost entirely to the study of rabbinic disciplines in order to succeed his grandfather, Chanoch, who was the chief rabbi in the city. Pinkas Heinrich later went on to study at the universities of Bucharest, Vienna, and Zurich. The fragment was part of the larger Hebrew and Judeo-Arabic manuscript collection of Moses Gaster (1856–1939), a scholarly British Jew of Romanian descent and a prominent figure in the Zionist Movement. It is unclear if the fragment was also part of the collection he obtained from the Genizah of the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Cairo, Egypt. Heinrich dedicated the work to “the commendable and distinguished language researcher, the famed folklorist Rev. Dr. Moses Gaster” and wrote in the preamble that Gaster “entrusted” him to “edit” the fragment. Judeo-Arabic is a version of Arabic with some Hebrew, Aramaic, and other vocabulary. It is in use among Jews living in Arabic regions and is written in Hebrew script.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Carl Gerold's Son Publishing House, Vienna

Title in Original Language

Fragment eines Gebetbuches aus Yemen

Type of Item

Physical Description

84 pages ; 23 centimeters


  1. Curriculum Vitae of Pinkas Heinrich, Freimann Collection, Goethe University Library, Frankfurt am Main,
  2. Jassy, Jewish Virtual Library,
  3. Virtual Judica,

Last updated: June 6, 2016