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The world's oldest tallit may be here in the United States
Hershel Shanks explores the possiblitiy of the oldest tallit in the world as a prayer shawl which is now in the US.
Biblical Archaeology Society
202.364.3300 ext. 221
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, D. C. (September 15, 2008) -- The world's oldest tallit may be here in the United States, a recent gift to the American Jewish Historical Society. The tallit was owned by Abraham Isaacks, the parnas, or president, of the oldest Jewish congregation in the United States, Shearith Israel. Abraham Isaacks died in 1743. His tombstone is in the Shearith Israel cemetery in Manhattan.
The history of the tallit as a prayer shawl and the history of this particular tallit is told in a fascinating new, popularly-written monograph by Hershel Shanks, founder and editor of the Biblical Archaeology Review, the largest circulation magazine in the world devoted to its subject.
Perhaps most surprising, the tallit as a prayer shawl was not used until about 1000 C.E. The tallit found at Masada, Herod's desert palace/fortress, was a secular garment, the same kind of tunic that was worn by non-Jews.
In a 15th-century painting, women are seen wearing the same kind of tallit as the men.
To obtain a review copy of this colorfully-illustrated monograph or to arrange a telephone interview with Hershel Shanks, please contact Steve Feldman at 202-364-3300, ext. 221 or email: sfeldman@bib-
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The Biblical Archaeology Society (BAS) was founded in 1974 as a nonprofit, nondenominational, educational organization dedicated to the dissemination of information about archaeology in the Bible lands.