Jewish Calligraphy: Ashkenazi and Sephardi

6 Jan

By Ajax Union on JewishArtBlog |

“The art of beautiful writing” not only goes back thousands of years, as seen through Jewish art, but is “an integral part of the cultural legacy of the Jew.” Of all the tradition and symbols of traditional for the Jewish people, perhaps none are more telling than Hebrew calligraphy.

But which Jews are we discussing, exactly? Those individuals who are familiar with the Jewish culture and its history are aware of the two different sects of European Jews: Ashkenazi, the descendants from central and eastern Europe, and Sephardi, the Jewish descendants from Spain.

Perhaps less known is the fact that Ashkenazi and Sephardi descendants often have strikingly similar traditions with slightly different rites and practices. This is as true with their traditional style of Hebrew calligraphy as it is with anything else.

In The Hebrew Letter: Calligraphic Variations by Ismar David, the author explains to us the difference in Asheknazi and Sephardi calligraphy in Jewish art:

“The Sephardi writing tradition is the direct continuation of earlier Oriental writing and shows, as far as letter-forms are concerned, a minimum of foreign influence. The Ashkenazi tradition reflects to a much higher degree the aesthetics that guided European scribes of the late Middle Ages ad early Renaissance.”

Hebrew calligraphy truly is one of the oldest and most noticeable traditions in Jewish history, for both Ashkenazi and Sephardi.

to Jewish Calligraphy: Ashkenazi and Sephardi



January 8th, 2011 at 7:28 am

very interesting article! and thank you for putting my letter aleph calligraphy in the article. You can see all my work on :

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