Crown, Keren & Koreen (aka Koren)

gohebrew's picture

Eliyahu Korngold, later Koren, was considered one of the greatest Hebrew type designers during the mid 20th century.

Koren's landmark work, named after his Israelized surname, was initially created in the 1950s. The design was based upon a hand-written document of the section of the Prophets, attributed to the Moshe ben Asher geneza, of scrolls belonging to the Karaite community, a pariah sect to normative Judaism.

This design was drawn and redrawn many times, both before and after his employment by the Koren Publishers Jerusalem Ltd., which he founded in 1961. Koren spent most of his career at the Jewish National Fund, where most of this typeface design was created, under the JNF's auspices.

The design was finally used in the Koren Bible in 1962, but was never created as an outline typeface. Koren printed his siddur in 1981 at the age of 74. Instead, a digital type company in Israel used its software code for two products: the Koren Bible typeface, and its own identical typeface. Later, the Israeli company called 'Koreen' (and widened one letter). Koren approved the design.

Shmuel Guttman created another typeface, called 'Keren', in digital form in 1993, prior to the Koren Bible digital typeface. His typeface features many significant differences, but maintains the basic look-and-feel of the Koren Bible design. Koren never approved Guttman's design.

I also created a set of typeface software, which I called 'Crown'. They are based upon large drawings created by an unnamed talented graphic artist, perhaps from the former USSR. The software was created in the United States, where it was registered for US Copyright at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, in 1989. My design is based upon ancient manuscripts as well, and modified to comply with the various instructions, as expressed in, regarding legibility and readability.

gohebrew's picture


>> There is a distinction as to how a person should learn Torah and how it should be printed. For example, originally, when the Torah was taught (before there were books), a Sefer Torah would be brought down do the lecture hall and Torah was taught. Obviously, in the holy scroll, there were no commentaries written, but just the 5 books of Moses. <<

In old times, and we speak in the times prior to the Gaonim, most everyone had a keen insight into reality and the presence of G-d in ones life. The commentaries which we know today were understood in of themselves in the words of the Torah and in oral explanations of the talmid chacham Torah scholar teaching the common readers.

Today, things are different. We do not have a keen insight and the feeling of G-d's presence anymore, unfortunately. Hence, G-d delivered great people, like Rashi, Nachmonides, etc. to write these commentaries, which were implied in the written words of the Tanach, the Talmud etc.

gohebrew's picture

>> Today, a wide variety of different sources are available to be learned and not all of them can fit into one volume. For this reason, it is traditional to own a Tanakh WITH NO COMMENTARY and then this can be used either as a base text or as a reference. For example, the Talmud scholar may want to look up a quoted text to see the context that the Talmud is trying to explain from that one fragment. <<

I never heard this before. Do you have a source?

Is this a chidush, a novel idea, from Reb Raphael Freeman? Such a great chidush that Moses did not even hear it on Mt. Sinai (and our sages obm say that Moses heard the entire Written and Oral Torah)?

gohebrew's picture

>> I find in my work at Koren, that I'm constantly referencing the Tanakh. I like to use a large volume (fortunately we have lots at my work :-) ), but I just need the pasuk, not the Rashi or the Onkelus or anything else. <<

No true Torah scholar avoids the words and explanation of our great sages.

gohebrew's picture

>> It should also be noted that in Israel where learning Tanakh is compulsory for all students, that a Tanakh with any sort of commentary is not allowed. Also in the Haredi (not an "e" but an "a") cheder system, they teach the kids with a separate volume for Torah and then different volumes for the various mefarshim. <<

What? I have 8 kids, thank G-d. They all learned in a cheder or school for girls. No one had a compulsory volume of Tanach without commentaries. Rather, they had a separate volume of Bereshet/Genesis, Shmot/Exodus etc. that had Onkelus and Rashi, even when they only learned the volume of Chumash/Pentatuech.

Site one cheder that learns as you say!


>> It's their system of learning which is NOT the same as the general Israeli curriculum. I know you don't believe me, but it's still true nevertheless :-) <<

Swear on a stack of Koren Bibles. :)

raphaelfreeman's picture

Look this argument is circular. You don't believe me. I don't care. We sell tens of thousands of Tanakhim every year and we are not the only publisher of Tanakhim. Feldheim also has a Tanakh without commentary and they are most definately a Haredi publisher. So if you take our sales, and theirs and others, you are talking about 100s of thousands of Tanakhim being sold. Clearly we all have a different view to you. I think we kind of outvote your 8 kids.

Let's now end this argument since it has nothing to do with typophile and it think is definately off-topic. You have your view which I respect. But let's leave it at that.

gohebrew's picture

I agree.

Apparently, ultra-Orthodox Jews in America may differ from Haredim in Israel.

In Israel, money generally is very tight, especially at private parochial schools. Clearly, a Chumash or Tanach without commentaries costs far less than one with two commentaries of Onkelos and Rashi, for the page count is less.

When I printed a volume of the Talmud, paper was a 40% cost factor. So, to save 10 pages does save some money.

Also, in America, cheders kindergartens study only one volume of the Chumash or Tanach at a time, and don't those heavy books of the entire Chumach or Tanach.

Clearly, things must be different here than there, like the Chanukah dreidel says a 'shin' instead of a 'peh'.

quadibloc's picture

Now that the argument has settled, I will mention something that surprised me a bit. I was doing some web searches concerning the Mikra'ot Gedolot, that is, the Tanakh together with its major commentaries.

There was a web result for the Haketer Mikraot published in Israel, which, among other departures with tradition, is using a conventional typeface instead of a Rashi typeface for the commentaries, trusting that a smaller type size is enough so that readers can tell which is which.

In the United States, the Jewish Publication Society it producing "The Commentators' Bible", as the first of its kind, something that I would have thought would have been done long ago. But perhaps I misunderstood.

What I thought someone would have done long ago is prepared an edition of the Mikra'ot Gedolot in which the Tanakh itself remained, as in any other edition, in the original Hebrew with vowel points - but the Targums, the commentaries, would all be translated from Aramaic, whether into Yiddish or into English. (I didn't look carefully at the result for The Commentators' Bible to find out if it also contained the Tanakh only in an English translation: EDIT - I have checked now; it includes the Hebrew text flanked by their own two English translations).

Also, since some parts of Daniel are in Aramaic rather than Hebrew, which is why Christians have reference books with titles like "A Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon of the Old Testament", Aramaic being known as Chaldaean as well as Syriac, it may be that I am underestimating the level of knowledge of Aramaic in the Jewish community (but none of the Torah is in Aramaic, and that is what is used in the bar mitzvah...).

After all, not avoiding the sages and commentators is surely asked of all the faithful, not merely those who minister to them.

quadibloc's picture

Actually, at least for the Torah, it was done at least once before: "The Gutnick Edition Chumash", but in that case entirely in English.

gohebrew's picture

>> ... it was done at least once before: "The Gutnick Edition Chumash", but in that case entirely in English.

What was done once before?

I know no other work like "The Gutnick Edition Chumash". Besides a Bible to use in the synagogue for the Torah reading and for profound study, the Gutnick Chumash serves as a fascinating tour de force in that it cites the classic questions on the verses of the Chumash, and answers them magnificently, so no question remains.

gohebrew's picture

>> In the United States, the Jewish Publication Society it producing "The Commentators' Bible", as the first of its kind, something that I would have thought would have been done long ago. But perhaps I misunderstood.

Even to this day, most Torah literature is out the reach of those who do not understand the original. These great books of knowledge in ethics and morality, modern psychology, modern physics, medicine, etc. etc., are like the size of more than one Encyclopaedia Britanica.

Perhaps, in this century we will find these matter accesible, as it is written in the Zohar about the Flood and the bursting forth of the waters as an analogy to the revelation of knowledge in our times.

gohebrew's picture


Did you see the "Bible Unauthorized"?

Read and see it at

At it is also discussed:

The Bible Unauthorized

In 1942 A. H. Moose published a volume titled The Bible Unauthorized that included a translation of the first few chapters of Bereshit (Genesis) and a "treatise" that "proved" the existence of God, the Biblical account of creation, and other parts of the Bible. Moose claimed that "the real content of the Bible differs greatly from the many erroneous translations" that preceded his, and that his was "likely the first accurate translation".[29]

According to the correspondence of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn Moose was the pseudonym of Rabbi Aaron Hirsh Levitt, who had worked with Schneersohn.[30][31]
The Bible Unauthorized has been reprinted several times, most recently as In the Beginning: The Bible Unauthorized (Thirty Seven Books, 2001).

quadibloc's picture

I had not heard of that book.

I had noticed the historical controversy about Matthew 1:22-23 quoting from Isaiah 7:14.

I was astonished at this. Since Isaiah 7:14 was known to be a prophecy concerning events to take place in the time of King Ahaz, while the prophecy could also have referred to the Virgin Mary, with the other woman being what Christian Bible scholars call a "type" of Mary, since this other event did not involve a virgin birth, clearly the "young woman" translation is appropriate - in both Testaments.

The word "parthenos" in the Septuagint is also ambiguous; it's only the Old Latin translation that turned it into an unambiguous "virgin". Given the orthodox Christian belief in the plenary inspiration of Scripture, including the New Testament, Matthew could not have put an incorrect quotation of Isaiah 7:14 in Scripture, and one with "virgin" would have to have been incorrect from the original context of that passage.

Thus, this is not a question of modernism versus traditional belief, but rather how false tradition, ignorance, and bigotry have led people into error. The Virgin Birth is unequivocally stated elsewhere in the Gospels, there is no need to create a false controversy in order to add another reference.

gohebrew's picture

John S,

I want to transfer this discussion to another arena. Typophile is a site dedicated to type. Lets discuss Bible ideas at - I will post a reply in awhile (around 1 pm EST).

gohebrew's picture

John S.,

Thank you for your blog post at about the Christian belief of Virgin and its basis in Scripture, based upon Gospel interpretations in Matthew, and in other Gospels.

The reply was intended for Jewish readers, but I hope that they were enlightening to you as welll.

There is an issue that you mention 2 or 3 times which concerned me. But I choose not to post it there, since it's more of an inquiry nature, and pertains to a negative portrayal of Christianity - and my intention there is to focus only upon positive matters.

You mentioned that certain interpretations by Christian of Hebrew scripture has been misused to incite violence upon Jews.

Christianity portrays itself as the loving and brotherly religion. In contrast, some Muslims (many are peace-loving and highly respectful of diversity among people) describe their faith as zealous, even murderous, to either defend its honor to punish perceived infidels.

Yet we see throughout history, except in recent times, that many Christians have behaved towards Jews that make Muslim violence pale by comparison.

I was in the former USSR for business. Many people from many different background approached me, and heartrendingly and sincerely apologized for what was done to Jewish people. "We destroyed most of your people in Russia," they cried. "We owe you so much."

Can the history of Christian violence and massacre against Jews be defended?

quadibloc's picture

Of course not. At least, not by me.

I could defend some things that are sometimes counted as Christian bigotry against Jews. Thus, the Gospel accounts do clearly state that the then Jewish religious hierarchy, not the Romans, instigated the Crucifixion, so one can't really expect Christians to abjure their Scriptures in favor of a politically-correct interpretation of history.

But violence against peaceful people because they are of a different faith is indefensible. And, of course, the Jewish people have made inestimable contributions to Western Civilization. Mendelssohn, Einstein, Irving Berlin, W. F. Friedman, Georg Cantor, Barbra Streisand, Natalie Portman... and hundreds of others have contributed to the arts and sciences.

gohebrew's picture

>> ... the Gospel accounts do clearly state that the then Jewish religious hierarchy, not the Romans, instigated the Crucifixion ... <<

This incorrect historically. Is this written anywhere in Church literature?

Jesus was among many people subjected to a cruel death by crucifixion. His however became the most famous.

The then Jewish religious hierarchy did not instigate or directly cause his crucifixion. The Roman government which organized these cruel murders by crucifixion were the sole culprits.

There was however Jewish rabbinical courts (not the High Court called the Sanhedrin) that tried Jesus, and ruled that his actions were worthy of spiritual punishment from heaven. This occurred also to the late former Prime Minister of Israel, Mr. Yitzchok Rabin. He was tried a kabbalistic rabbinical court of being a 'rodef', a person who encourages others to sin. Shortly afterwards, he was assassinated.

Ironically, the Oslo Accords that President Shimon Peres and Mr. Rabin worked so hard to formulate, are now falling apart. Clearly, since 9/11, President Peres has repented his position.

The Gospels do not express justification for genocide. Id they do, and I was the Pope, I would delete such a thing.

>> ... so one can't really expect Christians to abjure their Scriptures in favor of a politically-correct interpretation of history. <<

There is a Biblical command to pursue justice, which also is the seventh Noahide law, bing upon every non-Jew. As our forefather Abraham told G-d Al-mighty, "Shall the Judge of all judges not carry out justice."

If there is injustice, every person is bound to oppose it.

This is different that being "politically-correct", which is purely a social issue. For example, in Nazi Germany it was "politically-correct" to ship Jews off to concentration camps, and later to even gas them in the gas chambers.

In my view, followers of Christianity should emulate the Russian people and repent.

gohebrew's picture

By "defended" means by virtue of true facts and beliefs, not by ignorant arguments and hateful jealousy.

quadibloc's picture

I cannot defend any violence against the Jewish people. And, indeed, there was much in the Western world. In Russia, there were the pogroms until more recently, but in Europe Jews were indeed often slaughtered during the Middle Ages.

They may have been treated as inferiors under Muslim rule, but they were usually safe.

These are facts, and the West has recognized them. It is largely due to the Holocaust that the West finally has recognized the evil of bigotry and discrimination. The change of heart that led to resulted, in a few short decades after the Second World War, in the downfall of segregation.

As the New Testament specifically forbids Christians from any kind of violence, those who would use it as an excuse for violence against Jews are not following it.

raphaelfreeman's picture

In honor of the first Jewish Tanakh produced in almost 500 years and the first published in the Land of Israel, Israel Post will issue a stamp commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the 1962 publication of the Koren Tanakh in 2012.

Unbelievably, all editions of the Hebrew Bible published since the early 1500s have been based upon non-Jewish Scholarship and Sources. Eliyahu Koren produced the first Hebrew Bible with Jewish Scholarship, a newly designed Hebrew Font – Koren – and Israeli Design.

William Berkson's picture

Raphael, you wrote that Koren type face was inspired by a Karaite manuscript. Is a scan of that a page of that available?

quadibloc's picture

I think the reference is to the Aleppo Codex, and indeed there are many scans of that famous document on the Web. There has been some controversy about other possible sources of inspiration for the typeface, but none of the other possible inspirations have been identified yet.

raphaelfreeman's picture

Wililam, no, gohebrew wrote that. I don't know what he was inspired by.

quadibloc's picture

Ah. Apparently my understanding of the discussion is in error. I remember Israel Seldowitz (gohebrew) making the following statements:

He believed there was an Ashkenazic manuscript (which he is currently unable to identify), the style of writing of which closely resembled Koren; and

He stated that the makers of Koren claimed they were inspired by one or more Sephardic manuscripts instead.

I thought, though, that both he and the other side in the discussion (if not Raphael Freeman, someone associated with the company responsible for Koren) agreed that the Aleppo Codex was an influence on the design of Koren.

Whether or not the Aleppo Codex should be considered a Karaite document is, I think, another matter of some controversy.

William Berkson's picture

The Wikipedia says that Koren is based on "Moshe Ben-Asher Codex of the Prophets", and I believe Raphael said that that information comes from him. That codex seems also to be called the Codex Cairensis, and seems to be different from the Aleppo codex. Also according to the article it was not written by a Karaite, but rather came into possession of Karaites.

Now I have found a scan of this on line, linked from the Wikipedia article. It is here. The Koren Tanakh typeface is by no means a simple copy of it.

gohebrew's picture


I quoted a Wikepedia article that you said that you wrote.

gohebrew's picture


Can you provide the link of the scan that you found, "linked from the Wikipedia article."

The Koren Tanakh typeface does have some special qualities unique to it. Note the shape of the gimel, for example. The middle ride side, that protrudes out. I haven't seen another font design with that.

David, what's your view?

quadibloc's picture

The Codex Cairensis is indeed very different from the Aleppo Codex.

Its text is close to the Ben Napthali recesnsion, whereas that of the Aleppo Codex is close to the Ben Asher recension. It's Ben Asher who has been suspected by some to be a Karaite.

I personally think that the typeface Koren resembles the script of the Aleppo Codex with respect of some of its distinctive characteristics, but, yes, it is by no means a copy of that hand.

gohebrew's picture

Koreen Gimel from MyFonts

gohebrew's picture

2 Identical Korens

Gutmann is the left in red, and Masterfont's Koreen is on the right in black
Masterfont's is licensed from Koren Publishing

gohebrew's picture


Koren Bible Type

... The font was based on the Moshe Ben-Asher Codex of the Prophets manuscript, belonging to the Karaite community in Cairo, the earliest Medieval manuscript with a colophon, written in 895 CE in Tiberius.

gohebrew's picture

I said that that the Koren typeface design, like Hadasa, and unlike Frankrul and David, were inluenced by Ashkenazic typeface design, based on my research and review of most Hebrew typeface designs.

Evenough the main audience for these Israeli designs (Koren and Hadasa) were Sephardic Jews, of the others (Frankrul and David) were Ashkenazic Jews, the designs themselves were either Ashkenazic (Koren and Hadasa), or Sephardic (Frankrul and David).

William Berkson's picture

Israel, here is a direct link to the PDF of the Codex Cairensis. I don't know what all the Koren typeface is influenced by, but certainly Aaron ben Moshe ben Asher is not Ashkenazi, as he lived in Tiberias according to this article.

According to that article, there is debate over whether he was a Karaite, though apparently secular scholars agree that he was, based on information in the Cairo Geniza. However, almost all Jewish bibles rely on his work, as he put the nikkud on both the Cairo Codex and the Aleppo Codex.

According to the Wikipedia article on Aaron ben Moshe ben Asher Saadia Gaon attacked ben Asher as a Karaite, and for that reason preferred the nikkud system of ben Naftali. However, he is the exception, not the rule, as ben Asher's system is the generally accepted one, partly based in the influence of Maimonides, who praised it. Israel, do you object to the system of nikkud in the Aleppo Codex? Does Chabad?

By the way, the gimmel in the Cairo Codex does not have the bump on it as a general rule, that I can see.

david h's picture

> According to the Wikipedia article on Aaron ben Moshe ben Asher Saadia Gaon attacked ben Asher as a Karaite...

Essa Meshali by Saadia Gaon was against Shmuel Ben Asher -- known as Abu al-Tayyib al-Jabali.

Saadia Gaon lived in Tiberias, but he didn't know Ben Asher, or his work; he didn't mention Ben Asher in his important grammatical work Kutub al-Lughah because Ben Asher wasn't famous/widely known (only later on).

gohebrew's picture


>> Israel, here is a direct link to the PDF of the Codex Cairensis. I don't know... <<

The link doesn't work by me.

Another Reform conspiracy! :)

gohebrew's picture

>> Israel, do you object to the system of nikkud in the Aleppo Codex? Does Chabad?

No, should I?
No. Chabad is education. No politics.
Chabad wants every person, Jew or gentile, to be the best person that they can. They simply say, "Do another mitzvah."

gohebrew's picture

>> ... the gimmel in the Cairo Codex does not have the bump on it as a general rule ... <<

I've never seen any gimel like that one. Has anyone?

gohebrew's picture

>> ... for that reason preferred the nikkud system of ben Naftali ... <<

How is ben Naftali's nikud system differ?

gohebrew's picture

>> ... Saadia Gaon lived in Tiberias, but he didn't know Ben Asher, or his work ... Ben Asher wasn't famous/widely known (only later on). <<
>> ... Saadia Gaon attacked ben Asher as a Karaite ... <<

This appears contradictory.

William Berkson's picture

>Should I?

Israel, I thought in one of your comments you said that no holy book should rely on a Karaite, and apparently Aaron ben Moshe ben Asher, who is said to have done the nikkud in the Aleppo codex, was a Karaite. That's why I ask.

>Appears contradictory.

It is; David is correcting the Wikipedia article I was quoting.

>The link doesn't work.

It works for me.

david h's picture

> I've never seen any gimel like that one. Has anyone?

Cairo Codex:

Mishnah MS:

gohebrew's picture

These gimels, particularly the top example, look like the gimel, in Koren. But there is no protrusion to the right.

gohebrew's picture

Bill, did Asher ben Asher apply the nikkud based on preexisting rules? Or invent the entire system and rules?

gohebrew's picture

Bill, your links usually work for me.

If I can trouble you, what's the whole address for that html page?

William Berkson's picture

Here's the html page:

It has the link on it for the PDF of the scan of the Cairo Codex.

According to one of those linked articles, if I remember rightly, Aaron ben Moshe ben Asher is said to be a fifth generation Masorite in Tiberius. So he would have been applying ideas he knew well about nikkud, but apparently he was very good at it, and also wrote his own grammar. David I'm sure can tell you more. I just know what I read and David pointed out that some of it is wrong!

gohebrew's picture

Thanks. This works.

>> According to one of those linked articles, ... <<

So the nikud he rote in the Allepo Codex was following a tradition that preceded him. How did ben Naftali's nikkud different? Was it the same tradition, but they differed in their skill set?>

>> ... also wrote his own grammar. <<

What does this mean?

>> David pointed out that some of it is wrong <<

I have been told that Wiki is great, but should be taken with two grains of salt, because its words are not cast in stone.

david h's picture

The famous treatise is Kitab al-Khlif: hillufim, differences between ben Naphtali & ben Asher.
The hillufim refer mainly to the placing of raphe & dagesh; in some cases to the vocalization & ta'amim; the placing of the ga'ya. The differences between ben Naphtali & ben Asher were only of minor significance!!! They agreed in many things.
ben Uzziel, the author of Kitab al-Khlif, does not mention whose reading deserves priority. For example, he wrote:

אמא אן יקרא קראה בן נפתלי פילזמה אן יקרא מן
מסתחסנאת ומסתתקלאת. ואמא אן יקרא קראה בן אשר ודלך איצא חכמה........

If he [the reader] follows the reading of ben Naphtali, it obligates him to read all of them with raphe and dagesh as he, ben Naphtali, does. If he, however, follows the reading of ben Asher, then it is also correct....

A sample, MS:

gohebrew's picture

Can you send me everything on the previous page: your words and two images, at highest resolution that you've got, pdf it, and email it to mean. See your indox.

david h's picture

> Can you send me everything on the previous page: your words and two images,....

why do you need that?

gohebrew's picture

I want to study them very carefully. Do you have other examples too?

I see things that you may not.

David, you know letter forms of old manuscripts, and Hebrew grammar seemingly very well.

What about typesetting, or letter setting by hand?

quadibloc's picture

From the illustrations of a Mishnah MS given, I would only draw the conclusion that it is impossible to be certain of a protrusion to the right. I am inclined to think that a very slight protrusion (about 1/5 the size of that in the Koren face) is definitely a possibility from the images given.

That is, the stroke for the lower part of the Gimel basically ends at the right of the vertical stroke, but the rounding added by the shape of the pen extends beyond.

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