Hebrew Type Designs

gohebrew's picture

Here are Hebrew Type Design specimens from Mr. Raphael Frank's important little book on Hebrew type designs and its history, printed originally in German, and translated later into Hebrew. An English translation doesn't yet exist. His ideas and opinions are quoted in my English language book on Hebrew Typography.

Frank's contribution to Hebrew type design was significant and influenced Jewish culture due to its enormous impact upon modern Jewish and Israeli societies. These samples include rarely used examples of different type style designs, demonstrating his intense love and knowledge of Hebrew type design.

Frank designed and created the popular standard FrankReuhl type style. No other type design has been used to a greater extent for the Hebrew language in the twentieth century and beyond. In the eighteenth and nineteeth centuries, the Merubaas typeface, and its derivatives, were the book publishing stand typeface. Since then, it was replaced by FrankReuhl. Over the past fifty years, Hadasa, David, and Narkiss, have attempted to upsupt FrankReuhl's dominance and have failed.

raphaelfreeman's picture

Yes, but that is my point. With the furtive patach, you can encode it (if people actually want it is another question), but I still don't see how you are going to even encode the kamatz katan. Even with our siddur we have made editorial decisions as to what is a kamatz katan or not based on various sources and changed our minds. How are you going to allow a person what to do?

I always cite the easy example of the Hebrew word for afternoon which the first kamatz is katan according to sefardim and gadol according to ashkenazim (and that's an easy one). You have yet to address this problem.

gohebrew's picture

I would make all the different forms of kamataz katan. People can chose which glyph they want.

Chocalate for chocalate lovers; vanilla for vanilla lovers; and even strawberry for those daring type.

If a GSUB routine can be written whereby ordinary kamatzes will be selectively replaced with one form of kataz katan, then so it shall be.

I then make three nearly identical versions of the font, each with a different default. If you pay extra, you get chocalate. If you pay extra, you get vanilla.

About kamatz katan for Ashkenazim, I was told by Israel-based kollel Hemdat HaAretz (the halachic decider for the OU) that even for them it is an issue, just not in recognizable pronunciation.

I think they mean on how it impacts the shva-na.

gohebrew's picture

Raphael, and everyone else, please go to the new thread:

Straight from Israel: Raphael's Comments & Others too

jabez's picture

Just noticed an interesting interview with Scott-Martin Kosofsky by Steven Heller.

The Rabbi of Book Design: An Interview with Scott-Martin Kosofsky

gohebrew's picture

Scott is truly an artist, type designer, typographer, and author. He should do more.

His Machzor for the Conservative movement, and Siddur for the Reform, should be a prelude and taste of an effort for the Orthodox, starting with Chabad.

Except for Chabad, it should embrace every aspect of Jewish prayer throughout the year, and throughout the life of a Jew.


See www.gotalmud.com. It will be finished after the summer with www.gohebrew.com, and www.goworld.com.

I asked Scott to assist me to design and layout Dr. Elie Wiesel's introduction.

gohebrew's picture


I saw your beautiful Koren Siddur on Shabbos at Rabbi Orman's (Shlita) Talmud class at Ave I and Coney Island Avenue - by the Young Israel.

I think some parts were recreated to reduce the page count, and makes those tightened sections not pleasing to the eye, as is stated in Hebrew.

After careful and attentive review, I am confince that the great Mr. E. Koren's magnificent face is not suited for prayer.

GoHebrew calls it "Crown", due to its sound and loftiness. I subjected it to US Copyright at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, and to a design patent there also. After a long correspondance, the director of the Copyright Office conceded that it indeed was subject to copyright, in a landmark decision, which led to Adobe's successful yection repeatedly from NY.

I do not believe that Koren Publishing has submitted a copyright application, nor registered a trademark in the US. This is a gross oversight by Mr. Miller.

gohebrew's picture

GoHebrew is preparing a Nusach Ari Sephard and Ashkemaz all-in-one siddur in GH Romm for 5772 release.

I think the shuls will like it.

William Berkson's picture

Congratulations on your work with Scott-Martin Kosofsky, mentioned in the Heller article!

Israel, I am very impressed with Koren's siddur typeface. Why do you think it not suited for prayer?

gohebrew's picture

The letter are not rounded at the edges, wide and square-like, and not conducive to long term "lazy" reading and lazy like lingering of ideal prayer. They are better suited to study, which is much quicker and less focused on form but the meaning of the 'sentences'.

Ask any sofer stam scribe.

Eliyahu Koren is based rather heavily upon an Ashkenazic influence ancient design, while the classic Romm family Vilna fat design, like Bodoni Poster, is based direcly upon super ancient Sephardic Bible drawings shown to Bodoni's students by Mr. Romm senior, as reported by Frederick Goudy (?) in his thin book. This suggest that this design is better suited for study as well.

gohebrew's picture

Hi David,

Long time, no talk.

I still believe the automatic replacement of the shvah-nah with a shvah-nach is doable, as are other glyphs as well.

But there appears to be three systems from the Ramak's teachings:
1) Rabbi Zalman Hanau used Chabad USA
2) Eliyahu Bachur/the Vilna Gaon used by ArtScroll
3) Michat Shai used by Chabad Israel and Shai L'morah

Do you still think it is impossible to implement in Volt, or do you agree now that it is possible to create a set of contextual rules that do not use grammar rules, but reather the results of applied grammar.

piccic's picture

Hi Israel, friends… :) Long time, no talk.

Consider yourself lucky: the new lectionaries here in Italy, after the new CEI translation of the Bible, are set in – take a deep breath – Officina Bold.
I think that not even Erik Spiekermann would be happy about that. :(

And the first editions of the new bible are useless as bad as they are typeset, if you seek the appropriate reading comfort for prayer or meditation…

gohebrew's picture

A very old design is called "Rashi".

Rashi is an acronym for Ra-Shlomo-Ishaki, a great medieval Torah scholar. Rashi composed the great commentaries on the Bible and the Talmud, that have never been surpassed to this very day.

Tradition has it that his birth was miraculous, and he was sent to this world by G-d to compose these two tremendous commentaries.

At the time, or shortly thereafter, the rabbis insisted that the Bible and the core of the Talmud should be ;resented differently than the commentaries. The Bible and the Talmud were drawn or typeset in square letters like Romm Vilna square letters by the Sephardic Jews or like the original source of Koren square letters by the Ashkenazic Jews, and the commentaries round narrow like Rashi round letters by the Ashkenazic Jews or like the unnamed round letters by the Sephardic Jews, as seen in the Dead Sea Scrolls (Go Hebrew calls Rambam, after Maimonides).

quadibloc's picture

I suspect that the image in the first post of this thread contains something that I have recently begun searching for. The sample labelled "Judisch-Deutsch" appears to be an example of the mashkit or vayber-taytsh style of printing, which resembles, but is not identical to, the style called "Rabbinic" or "Rashi" - but while the latter is used for commentaries in texts like the Talmud, usually for Aramaic text, the former was used - up to the eighteenth century, but not much beyond that - for texts in Yiddish.

quadibloc's picture

Also, it was very difficult to find a Tsenerene on Google Books, but finally, using the name of the author and a date range, I managed to find this one.

brianskywalker's picture

> even pornographic writing use FrankReuhl

We know what you've been reading! :-)

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