The New Rabbinical Assembly Mahzor

Scott-Martin Kosofsky's picture

At the urging of my dear friend and colleague Israel Seldowitz, I wish to share with the Typophile Hebrew group some news about Mahzor Lev Shalem, the new High Holidays Mahzor I designed and produced for the Rabbinical Assembly. It's a work of 944 pages, measuring 6.5" (16.5cm) x 9.1875" (28.34cm). The Hebrew type, inspired by Henri Friedlaender's Hadassah, was made by me and Israel.

You might be interested in reading this:

You can see a sample of the mahzor here:

The first printing of 130,000 sold out before all the books were off the bindery line. A second printing of another 50,000 copies, which contains a number of small corrections, is now underway.

All the best,

William Berkson's picture

Wow. With such complexity and multiple demands you are able to achieve a clean and easy-to-grasp page. Deeply impressive work. You did the Mishkan T'filah for the Reform movement also?

The I find the top terminal on the lamed a little distracting, but I need to see it all in print, which I haven't yet.

I would be interested in your take on bilingual text with Hebrew on the left (as in the Koren siddur) vs on the right, as you have here. What guided your decisions on this?

Scott-Martin Kosofsky's picture

Thank you, William. The decision to place the Hebrew on the left was made largely out of Conservative tradition. At one point, I tried it the other way, but given that the annotations surrounding the Hebrew text were often extensive, the right-hand position was clearly better. What one might do in the abstract is often quite different from managing a real-life situation--especially so with glossed texts that are laid out Talmudically. Though Hebrew has pride of place, with a heavier weight than any of the Latins, it is a book dominated by the Latin alphabet. It is, after all, an American book made for liberal-leaning congregations.

A far more controversial decision was the placement of the transliterated passages on the left, with the English, rather than near the Hebrew passages in question. The prevailing thought there (I was in the outvoted minority) was to allow those who wished to avail themselves of a purely Hebrew prayer experience the freedom to do so without interruption. Whether or not you think that makes sense, placing the transliterations on the right, with the Hebrew, would have cut down on the space for the annotations, which are a hallmark of Conservative intellectual life. There is a great deal going on in this book, and to keep it clear and easy to follow at all times requires decisions that one might well reconsider for more simple publications.

I did NOT work on Mishkan T'filah, but I am working with the CCAR, the Reform rabbinical organization, on a prayerbook for mourners at home and, soon, their new Mahzor. Israel Seldowitz and I are well into a new typeface for it, this one based on Ismar David's work.

Funny you mention the lamed. II find it quite a bit less distracting than Friedlaender's design, with its little top flag, but it's good to know your opinion. Perhaps we'll change it in some future version.

William Berkson's picture

Yes, I can see that the all the commentary put strong constraints on what you could do. I don't have a strong feeling that one way of mirroring is better than the other—probably it depends on other factors.

I see you have a special character for the kamatz katan, but no special character for the schva na—which your friend Israel has discussed endlessly here :) Probably that was a decision of the editors, right?

I also like the design of Mishkan T'filah, as it was such an improvement over Gates of Prayer. But this is still better. I love your sensitive use of the red, which really has helped you pull off the impossible of making all this into a coherent, readable structure, which is beautiful to boot.

One more question, a printing question. The bright red in the PDF is a traditional printing color, but I see most second color reds now are almost always deeper, like a brick red of some sort. I thought that this was because the bright red would be too transparent and weak in offset printing, as opposed to the old classic letter press.

Does the published version use the same red? Any advice on choosing reds? I am seeing JPS tomorrow about my new guide to Pirke Avot, which uses a red also, so any insight is most welcome!

Scott-Martin Kosofsky's picture

Thanks for all the kind words. The kamatz katan had been a feature of Conservative siddurim for some time (often as a patach with a dot underneath--as it appears in the Aleppo and Leningrad Codices), but the sh'va na and sh'va nach had never made the cut. One thing I advocated for (at Israel's urging) that made it in was the patach g'nuvah, the patach at the right side of the letter. I suspect some people will think it's a mistake, until they see it recur a number of times.

The red in the file is PMS 1805, but the red we printed was a special mix, made to match the endleaf color, Ecological Fibers' Crimson in the Rainbow series. It worked well in the first printing, though in the second, now just off press, I asked that they stiffen it a bit. The paper, which is quite nice at 28# (42gsm) weight, has good holdout and opacity, so it can take a solid hit.

Good luck with the Pirkei Avot!

tevih's picture

Hi Scott!

Now that you're posting here, I'm looking a little closer than when I first saw the AIGA article. The lamed doesn't bother me in the slightest, but I'm probably just very used to seeing it so many different ways. I think adding the red was a bold decision which pays off, from a design perspective. I'm surprised that the RA didn't balk at the extra color!

On page 210 compared to 211, I'm wondering why you chose to make the right annotation columns such different widths?



david h's picture

> which contains a number of small corrections, is now underway.

stuff like that:

(grammar error -- the shin; )

> ...(often as a patach with a dot underneath--as it appears in the Aleppo and Leningrad Codices)

Who told you that fairy tale story (patach with a dot underneath = kamats katan in A, L)?

Scott-Martin Kosofsky's picture

To Tevi: The commentary on page 210 begins with a continuation of the commentary on 209, which had to be set in a slightly narrower column to accommodate the Hebrew, so I decided to keep it narrow on 210, returning to full width on on 211. It was going to create a dissonance one way or the other, so I chose to keep it consistent with something. These are lose-lose situations in which one can only try to rationalize the lesser of two evils.

To David Hamuel: Yes, like those--precisely!!
About the kamatz in the Leningrad: What I meant to say was that, in some of its earlier publications, the Rabbinical Assembly used a patach with a dot underneath to denote the kamatz katan and the standard "T" form for the normal kamatz. The patach-underdot was the form of the NORMAL kamatz in the Leningrad and Aleppo. This is not a bubbe-meyse; my evidence for the Leningrad is the full facsimile published by Eerdmans/Brill, a copy of which I own. The Aleppo can be seen online: --look and see for yourself. There are places in both codices where the two elements run together, and others that appear to be more of a vertical line than a dot (runny ink), but it's perfectly clear to see that this two-part form of the kamatz was the manner of the time, at least with this scribe. I can't claim any special khokhma on the subject beyond my observations, which, at the end of the day, is all that matters to me.

Update on the new David font: I started all over again to make something new. It retains a four or five things from David that will be recognizable, but overall it's moved to an all new place. The first David I made with Israel will be used in the home mourner's siddur, but probably never again. The weights of the new font (I'm making three) bear no relation at all to Ismar's eponymous font. I think I may call it Sh'lomo--Son of David. It's farther from David than the Milon font is from Hadassah. I may post it when it's ready, though I am not a blogger by habit.


david h's picture


About the Kamats katan see my last post:

BTW, great work/design.

Scott-Martin Kosofsky's picture

As I mentioned in my posting of 28 July, what began as a new version of Ismar David's ubiquitous font morphed into something new, a font I'm calling Shlomo. It contains some quotations from David, but is generally simpler in form. Though the attached images include a very large size, keep in mind that it's intended for text. I'm developing it for the Reform religious community, in which fluent Hebrew readers are in the minority. There will be a bold weight beside the regular and medium (for small text) shown here, but I haven't gotten to it yet. The encoding of the nikkud (there will be taamim, too) hasn't begun, so what's here has been "hand composed," awaiting my last adjustments to the glyphs and their sidebearings. There's no kerning table yet, either; these samples driven completely by the sidebearings, which, for Hebrew with diacriticals, have to be considered very carefully.

I'd be happy to hear your thoughts.


Scott-Martin Kosofsky's picture

Here's how the font has progressed. The stems have been regularized and many of of the characters have been revised, some quite significantly. There's much work to be done, finishing the spacing work and encoding the positions of all the diacriticals, but I can't imagine that the glyphs will change greatly. After about 25 passes, I think this is it. A bold and light will be added, and it's likely that I'll add a titling version, incorporating some of the more decorative details that were abandoned after the first version. My goal has been clarity and simplicity, an easy-reading type that's well-suited to less advanced readers. Beside the nikkud, there will be a full battery of taamim.

A number of colleagues offered very helpful critiques: Lance Hidy, Misha Beletsky, Ed Feld, Howard Gralla, David Sarna, David Stein, and, of course, Israel Seldowitz, my partner in crime. I thank all of them!

By the way, I did this work in the new Fontographer 5, which feels as if a good old friend has emerged healthy from years in rehab.


William Berkson's picture

Just got back from vacation, and am catching up. I've never designed a Hebrew font, so the following may just my inexperience speaking. But since you asked...

I like a lot the way the terminals are handled. To my eyes they are nicer than those of David, which is a fine font, but somehow looks a bit clunky and dated to me. I particularly like the lamed in Shlomo.

However, to me there are a number of problems with the characters. One problem is that I think the rhythm is disturbed by the extra width of the chet and tav compared to the hey. I have just opened some of the most popular Hebrew fonts and compared them to your current version of Shlomo: Narkis Tam, Narkism, Frank-Reuhl, Hadasa, and David. Many have the chet *slightly* wider than the hey, which makes sense in equalizing the white space within the two characters, as the hey has the white gap on the left that the chet doesn't. But visually yours seems to go too far to me in being too wide. Also the tav isn't normally quite as wide as chet internally, as it has that squiggly leg on the left, which visually opens it up inside a bit.

I would say that the mem sofit is a bit too wide also compared to the mem, though there it's easier to get away with, as it comes at the end of words and you don't get so much of a problematic "accordion" effect, which to me happens with the chet and tav. Some greater width of the mem sofit is justified by the white gap in the regular mem, but again not quite that much. David has a pretty wide mem sofit also, but I think it goes a bit too far also. In some of the others the mem sofit is even narrower than the mem.

To me there is something disturbing and not good looking about the top of the regular mem. In all of those other fonts, the left side of the arch in the mem thins going into the stem. Yours doesn't and that's part of the problem. The curve also to me looks too symmetrical and weak, but to tell you the truth I'm not that crazy about David's mem either, which I can see influenced you here--though David does have thinning where the stem joins.

The samech also looks to me uncomfortably symmetrical. In all of those other fonts, including David, the left stroke is less curved than the right, and to me looks more "right".

Finally, to me the shin should have less white space to the left of the middle stroke, and more to the right. This is true in all of the fonts I mentioned. Especially relevant is Narkis Tam, as you have adopted the characteristic Narkis shape with the smoothly rounded bottom of the shin. He joins the middle branch a lot higher on the left, which makes the counter on the left smaller than on the right.

(We have, alas, just lost Tzvi Narkis, designer of Narkis Tam and Narkisim and other great fonts.)

A lot of this critique on issues of shape relate to the sense of motion to the left in Hebrew. The nature of the conventional asymmetries in these characters contribute to that motion to the left. (I would also increase the asymmetry of the aleph for that reason, but that is just personal preferance; I wouldn't say that the current shape is a problem.) The other thing is about visually even color and rhythm, which I am admittedly a fanatic about, as I think that this contributes to readability.

Scott-Martin Kosofsky's picture

William, thanks for your comments. I found many of them quite helpful. Here are the latest versions, which now include a semi-light and a bold. You'll note that several characters have been redesigned, others changed in various small ways. I design type for text, so I'm loath to show large letters as I did here. As such, I'm far more concerned with sidebearings and fit than I am with the smallest details of character design. In Hebrew, especially when nikkud and taamim will be deployed, letter fit is a matter of life and death. You don't have the same options of using kerning tables to fix things; it all has to happen in the sidebearings. That can be quite challenging, especially when narrow letters have to accommodate an elaborate apparatus of diacriticals.

The JPEG renderings of the text sizes looks horrible here and give a poor impression of the stroke details and weights. I think I won't post pictures of type again. If anyone is interested in seeing the fonts, email me and I'll send a PDF that can be printed.

In the meanwhile, I wish everyone Shanah Tovah. May you all be inscribed in the best books.

William Berkson's picture

Scott, I'm glad it was helpful. I do think the new version is quite improved. You write "You don't have the same options of using kerning tables to fix things; it all has to happen in the sidebearings." I don't think that's correct. I just opened Hadasa MFO (Mastertype Open Type) in Font Lab and it contains an open type kerning table. Also note that if you are having problems with the side bearings it could be that the width or design of the glyph needs modification, as this affects how the sidebearings work.

Shana Tova to you as well, a joyful and productive year!

Khaled Hosny's picture

I don't about Hebrew, but you can set OpenType kerning pairs for Arabic, it just has to set in an awkward way.

In LTR scripts, you kern glyphs by changing the right side bearing of the left glyph. However for RTL scripts, because layout engines still layout glyphs from the left to right, you have to change the left side bearing of the glyph on the right (thus making them closer) and the glyph on the left to avoid having gap after the kerned pair.

William Berkson's picture

Khaled, doesn't Adobe InDesign ME compose text from right to left natively? And the procedure you mention, is that necessary in Font Lab? I haven't done this stuff, but I know FontLab does right-to-left in displays. And the open type "kern table" for Hadasa MFO looks similar to me as in Latin fonts.

Perhaps if John Hudson looks at clarify this for us, as he has done both Arabic and Hebrew fonts.

Khaled Hosny's picture

I was referring to how the glyphs are laid out together, when setting a RTL segment of text it gets reordered first then OpenType layout applied, so it is treated more or less as LTR segments by the OpenType engine, so the kerning need to be set visually not logically. Old 'kern' table, as compared to OpenType 'kern' feature, is applied before reordering the text, so it does not suffer from this complication (but you can't use it to kern any un-encoded glyph, so it can be largely useless).

Khaled Hosny's picture

After a bit of googling, I found this comment (John Hudson?), which describes the issue with more details.

William Berkson's picture

Khaled, yes that's John Hudson. He's talking about GPOS positioning. I think GPOS positioning, flat kerning, and open type kerning tables are three different things, but I don't really understand it.

Khaled Hosny's picture

OpenType kerning is a form of GPOS positioning, lets forget about flat (TrueType) kerning, they should have killed it long ago.

John Hudson's picture

Khaled: have to change the left side bearing of the glyph on the right (thus making them closer) and the glyph on the left to avoid having gap after the kerned pair.

Hmm. I think I see how that would work, but that's not how I do it.

I implement RTL kerning as a width and equivalent x position adjustment to the first glyph in the pair. This is how it looks in VOLT:

William Berkson's picture

John, how does what you are doing in volt relate to what I see in the open type kerning feature of Hadasa MFO?

I have only worked in Metrics Machine, so a little overview would be helpful.

For example, could I do something like the kerning table in Hadasa MFO with FontLab, or would I need VOLT?

Here is a sample of the code in the kerning feature in Hadasa MFO (without the color):

Khaled Hosny's picture

@ John

I checked my code, indeed this is how I actually do it, but since I wanted to use kerning classes, I just make kerning classes as if it were a LTR kerning, then a script I wrote converts the classes to kerning pairs with proper adjustment prior to font generation. It took me a while to get the kerning right, I tested so many approaches and, apparently, I'm still confused which one worked for me (so many RTL kerning bugs in applications, too).

Scott-Martin Kosofsky's picture

Thank you, all. I believe I may have misstated my case. I do deploy kerning pairs in this font and in other Hebrew fonts I've made. What I meant to say, or at least emphasize, was that in Hebrew with diacriticals, kerning pairs have limited usefulness, as the context of intervening nikkud and taamim have to be taken into account, especially so with narrow glyphs, such as yod and vav. That being the case, I strive to be utterly judicious and disciplined setting the sidebearings to work in most every circumstance. This is what I learned to do many years ago casting metal type. Without that decade of experience working in metal, I don't know that I would really understand the discipline of typefitting. I should add, too, that were this font intended only for Modern Hebrew, I would have fit it somewhat differently, likely a bit tighter.

While I'm here, may I ask your opinion of the tsadi and tsadi sofit? Are they beyond the pale? Do you think the aleph should have the same sort of upper member?

Again, Shanah Tovah (to my Christian and Muslim colleagues, too--everyone likes a New Year),


William Berkson's picture

Ah, I understand now. In latin fonts as well, getting the sidebearings correct is critical, before any kerning. The right arm of the tzadi doesn't bother me, but if you haven't already I would ask Israelis who are used to reading a lot of different Hebrew fonts. You might try rotating the arm a bit counter-clockwise, to open the "v" more, to see whether that hurts or helps, if you haven't already. I think the bottom right of the tzadi is too heavy compared to the other letters, The aleph can work either way, so its just what you like, and making it work...

david h's picture

> While I'm here, may I ask your opinion of the tsadi and tsadi sofit?...

add a leaf (or two) and you'll have a green font. Shanah Tovah.

John Hudson's picture

Bill, I believe there is some way to define RTL kerning correctly in AFDKO syntax as used in FontLab etc.. I only use VOLT for OTL work so don't know for sure how it works in AFKDO syntax, but it might be as simple as including that 'RightToLeft' statement in the code. It was Eric Muller at Adobe who first alerted me to the problem of applying GPOS pair adjustment values to the 2nd glyph, so I'm certain that they made AFDKO in a way that would compile kerning for RTL scripts with the appropriate dx and width adjustments.

piccic's picture

Hi Scott. I'm sorry I can't comment on the letters for my lack of familiarity with Hebrew, but it looks lively and with many qualities… :)
It goes so nicely with Magma (is that Magma, isn't it?), although your stems look a little more flared.

And, of course, the Mahzor is great. It looks wonderful; I'd like to have a Bible set like that in Italy. The more recent ones are embarassing, and the new lectionary of the CEI has an edition set in Erik Spiekermann's Officina (…) Ugh! :-/

Michael Cunliffe Thompson's picture

Scott, I enjoy looking at this font. Crisp!

I notice that the wide letters are only slightly wider.
How did you decide how wide they should be? Also I can understand
manually widening the letters in calligraphy but how are they used
in the digital age?

gohebrew's picture

In my view, Scott's introduction of Shlomo is a real cause for celebration.

Anew font design in Hebrew does not occur every day, or even in ones lifetime.

The design is fresh. In time, we will see that this design is both versatile for small texts, and for large displays.

Scott-Martin Kosofsky's picture

Thank you all, for your helpful comments. I've made a considerable number of changes to Shlomo since I last posted--starting with the alef. As with all text types that aspire to usefulness, I'm trying to make it disappear, so most of the eccentricities have been jettisoned. David did a good job of embarrassing me out of the tsadi sofit (and with it, the tsadi). Did I go too far? Maybe one more pass and I'll call it finished.

Michael, your question about the wide final forms is a good one. As you know, one cannot break words in Hebrew, so the wide final letters were adopted for justification. Some surviving early fonts have final letters of two widths. Over the past century, they fell out of favor, as mechanical typesetting systems took over-- Monotype, linecasters, film, then digital--and the wide letters were no longer available. I made a set for Milon, the font I made (with Israel Seldowitz) for Mahzor Lev Shalem. When I showed samples, everyone said "no way," for the reason that too many people would be unfamiliar with them. The only reasonable solution, then, was setting the type unjustified. In this font, I'm hoping to squeak by with a new strategy, making wide letters that aren't too wide as to be confusing, but wide enough to prevent holes in the lines. Chances are I'll never use them!

Piccic, that is, indeed, Magma--Sumner's best work, in my opinion. I've never used the lowercase, just the caps.

Scott-Martin Kosofsky's picture

Sorry, I posted too soon. I took advantage of the holiday to make some further revisions, especially to the aleph, tsadi, and tsadi sofit. I hope you like it. I look forward to your remarks.


gohebrew's picture

At first, I thought the chet was too heavy, ie the strokes were too thick in comparison to other letters. Plus, I originally thought that the chet and hay were too wide.

But, in reviewing the small text above, Scott-Martin has done something brilliant. The wider width compensates from the thickness of the strokes. As it is said in graphic art talk, there is great color balance of the chet and hay, because the whites spaces between the right and left vertical strokes balance their stroke widths.

William Berkson's picture

Israel, I am inclined to agree with your original reservation that the hay and chet are too wide. I think this is quite improved from the first post. I still love the terminals, but still have questions about the widths. I guess I would check how they "read" without nikkud. The rhythm of the design might be easier to see that way, and any problems.

But at this point it is getting to the point where basically it's a matter of Scott, the designer, deciding how he wants his face to look.

gohebrew's picture


You are very perceptive and perceptive of subtleties, but I beg to differ, and choose to defend's Scott-Martin's poetic license and determinations.

There are not as the Israeli slogan, "taam v'reach etc." - ie his personal artistic leanings, and supra-rational (lit. "taste and smell can not be debated").

Rather, there is a reason to his madness, not related to nikud placement or visual design rhythm.

A wider width there promotes better content comprehension, and prevents the confusing between these two letters at smalled text sizes.

Scott-Martin Kosofsky's picture

Isn't it great to have such a loyal defender? Israel, you're the best (though hardly impartial). Be that as it may, I'm grateful for serious criticism, so fire away, Bill et al. This is a font intended to be read over a long haul at religious services, invariably with nikkud. That it seems to have good display qualities makes me a little cautious. I tend to prefer fonts that have elegant forms, but have the more important characteristic of disappearing as you read them--the essential Caslon quality, as Bill knows well. Peculiarities are especially unwelcome. What would Mr. Updike say? Fortunately for me, he was a staunch Episcopalian . . .

Here it is, in regular and medium weights, without nikkud. I have not yet completed the kerning, so what you see is fit largely through sidebearings alone.


P.S. One thing I am trying to accomplish here is a revival of the extended forms for justification. Because such glyphs vanished with the advent of mechanized typesetting, I am aware that readers are no longer accustomed to them. So I've made them quite subtle, in hope that they'd blend in easily, while at the same time make for tighter lines and paragraphs. That Hebrew readers have become used to very poor, loose composition is quite unfortunate.

gohebrew's picture

The kerning between first the shin then ayin and first the ayin then the daleth needs to be slightly increased, because there is a grouping of multiple vertical strokes which seems too crowded among the other letter combinations.

Plus the bottom tail on the lower left of the ayin is rather short compared to the ayin in many other Hebrew font designs.

Hmmm... it only happened in those combinations but not when an ayin is followed by other letters with a right vertical cstroke.


Scott, why are you giving me free tickets to the Rose Bowl...

William Berkson's picture

I think there's a problem trying to look at this on screen, because in converting to pixels, the spacing within and between characters is slightly changed...

But looking at this small, without nikud, I'm wondering whether the shin is too narrow. I am a fanatic about even color, and I don't know if you share that. When I look at samples of Zvi Narkiss's fonts on p. 100 of Language Culture Type, I see an awesome evenness and balance. (I notice he does tricks to lighten the middle stroke of the shin.) I can't really give a good critique because of its being on screen, and my not having done a Hebrew type.

A good, traditional "proofing" technique is to put every letter between every other letter. In roman type you have strings like this: aaabacadaeafagahaiajakalamanaoapaqarasatauavawaxayaza then babbbcbdbebfb ... etc through the alphabet. Of course you can do the same with Hebrew. Then you print it out small, and some issues pop out that wouldn't be so obvious otherwise.

david h's picture

just post a big sample, high res.

William Berkson's picture

A PDF is better.

piccic's picture

Piccic, that is, indeed, Magma--Sumner's best work, in my opinion. I've never used the lowercase, just the caps.

Yes, the capitals are beautiful, and also Munc, which uses intermediate forms (mostly uncial) could be nice to pair with Hebrew, which does not have a case distinction.

Typograph's picture

This Shlomo TypeFace looks Distorted.
may be by americans it could pass, but in israel they woul'd use it even free.
the shlomo type face need alot of work and cristalization before at can even be called a type face.
It looks like a mixtur of Font DAVID + Self Chaos

gohebrew's picture

What specically can you describe, so it can be improved.

In my view, there are few traces of influence from David. Also, other charateristics (could name many) are both unique and innovative.

After David and Narkissim broke through the norm of traditional Hebrew typeface designs, I believe Israeli will accept a modern design, such as Shlomo (the son of David).

Critique is valid when it is constructive.

I feel the final chaf must be lighten up a bit, for it looks too heavy compared to the other letters.

I also think the current design of the gimel, in this and other fonts, places the left lower leg too low, so there is too little white space to distinguish it from the nuhn.

Typograph's picture

It looks like EREV-RAV of letters.
No DNA, No clear concept,
non unified direction
some weird letters stick out
non clean counters.
non absolute shaping

Shlomo is not a modern design shlomo is whats call anti-design
The set of squer letters against the set of round letters give a fill of two typeface combined and do not work together

gohebrew's picture

No, these are not specifics that can be measured and analyzed.

These are emotional comments. ie dislikes based on feelings.

Why is there no clear concept? Ask yourself, what pattern of things do I see which show inconsistency?

Where is there no unified direction? Point out examples.

What sticks out? Point out examples.

Where are there no clear counters?

What is absolute shaping, Eli? Show me examples.

Why is this 'anti-design'?

The last point that you make is why I see Shlomo as becoming the next great popular Hebrew font. It's wide and super-legible like traditional square letters, yet attractive and new like modern round letters.

In my view Shlomo works very well, and I think that Israelis will love it, particularly for these reasons. A great new modern design with the traditional qualities.

Scott-Martin Kosofsky's picture


Shlomo is a work in progress, which I posted for comment. I'm sorry you couldn't find it in your heart to say something constructive. I make it a point not to comment on people's work, unless they ask, so I will not comment on your Netsach, recently posted. Shlomo has changed quite a bit since I posted it last, and I won't show it again until it's finished. I'm grateful to those of you who made helpful remarks.

Here's a new font I'm working on with a friend. I won't tell you what it is--let it be a kind of Hebrew literacy test. I'm afraid it won't meet your standard for utter rigidity of form, Eli.

Typograph's picture

Scott, I am sorry if you got offended from my cirtiques.
In a forum, I express my true opinion about the currend Issue.
i allwas assume the when one uploads a face, he is asking for everyones opinion.
So i guess that mine wasn't to your liking
maybe the end result will be very much to my liking.

My critiques war typographical in general, ant not indetail what i have to say about each issue.

Now regarding This new (Old) hebrew face.
MasterFont has a font called "LIBI" the looks almost the same as this one.
But i like your alot more.

I see you made i distiction betwen qamats qatan and gadol, but not sheva na nach. Why?
3. You hav Dibbukim in some places like in the word וירע.
Also in some cases the taam is too cloes to the nikkud.

but overall, I like this face. also the spacing\kerning looks very good.

There is still work thats needs done on the overall typographic color.
also proportions of letters need some abjusment.

Scott-Martin Kosofsky's picture

LIBI? I can assure you Masterfont had nothing to do with this! This is a rather close replica of the principal text type made around 1560 by Guillaume (II) Le Bé for Christophe Plantin's Polyglot Bible. Some years ago, my friend Matthew Carter digitally rendered the display cut for use in Barry Moser's well-known Bible, where they appeared only as numbers for the Psalms. It had never been set up as a proper font. In this collaborative effort, we're making the display as well as the text. Israel Seldowitz will do the encoding after the glyph set is finished. The spacing you see here (sorry, it's not a very clear--I can't seem to upload a PDF) is sidebearings only--no kerning table. The nikkud and taamim were placed manually, as a demo. I'll tell Messrs. Le Bé and Plantin that you recommend an adjustment of the proportions.

This is one of the great legacy types from the Golden Age, which, sadly, have been ignored in modern Jewish publishing. We hope it will have a long and healthy revival.

david h's picture

> text type made around 1560 by Guillaume... It had never been set up as a proper font....

this one?

we have 10 weights.

Typograph's picture

this is masterfot LIBI
But i like yours better.

raphaelfreeman's picture

I'm coming in a little late to this discussion, but I have to agree with typograph. The font Shlomo in it's current form is all over the place. There seems to be no rhythm to the font and seems to be very messy. I think a Hebrew reader will be disturbed by it. On the other hand, Libi is much better.

I'm not a font designer, rather a typesetter, so I can't tell you why Shlomo doesn't work, just that I wouldn't choose it and I find it unreadable. Sorry if that's not terribly helpeful – but listen to typograph – he seems to understand why it's not readable.

But from what I've seen, the problem here isn't whether a single letter needs to be wider or thinner or whether the kerning needs to be tweaked, but rather in my eyes, there seems to be a fundamental problem with the font. It doesn't seem to be organic. I have to say, that I find it quite hard to read. Sorry :-(

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