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About The Artist

About the Artist

Rabbi Eliezer Reiner is an acclaimed Sofer Stam, a professional scribe, certified by Vaad Mishmeres Stam, a world-renowned organization. Rabbi Reiner writes kosher sifrei Torah, (Torah scrolls), tefillin, and mezuzos. He is also an accomplished Judaic artist who illustrates and decorates his hand-written Judaic manuscripts in unique and customizable styles. Each distinctive piece is created exclusively by the artist, and the multi-step process from conception through drawing, painting, and writing is performed by the artist himself.

Born in Hungary to a family with a long tradition and expertise in printing and art, Rabbi Reiner resided, studied, and worked in both France and Belgium until his move to New York in the mid-1990s. 

 

For the past four decades, he has perfected a special technique, using the ancient art of hand-crafted manuscript illumination. The artist's creative, inspiring works are all delicately executed on parchment, customized according to preferences.

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Choice of materials includes watercolors, different colored ink, tempera, and oil paint. 23K gold leaf enhances the delicate drawings, miniatures, special designs, and paper cuts (i.e, cut-outs) in a style reminiscent of the Medieval and Renaissance eras. All the manuscripts are written on kosher parchment using a feather and kosher ink. 

 

The artist's work is displayed in numerous galleries, private collections, and institutions across the world.

History of Illuminated Manuscripts

The History of Illuminated Manuscripts  

During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance period, middle- and upper-class families sought to own an illuminated book of hours.

The Jewish merchants ordered hand-written Hagadah shel Pesach, Tehillim (Book of Psalms), Megillas Esther (illuminated scrolls), Machzorim (prayer books), Ketubos (marriage contracts), etc. These treasured books and art pieces would be given as gifts on special occasions, such as weddings, bar-mitzvahs, and holidays, or just kept in family collections as Judaic heirlooms. 

 

The most luxurious books or scrolls, crafted for the wealthiest of patrons, were illustrated with a distinguishing design, with each section prefaced by a miniature drawing and a delicate border of flowers. Each letter was hand-written with a feather dipped in ink.

 

The tools of the trade included kosher ink, a quill pen (made from a turkey feather), a penknife (a multipurpose tool used for cutting and sharpening quills, cutting parchments), and a fine pen for drawing delicate illuminations. A stylus was necessary for making small holes at measured intervals on both sides of the vellum and ruled lines for the text.

Sarajevo Illuminated Haggadah

Sarajevo_Haggadah. Circa 1350

Kaufman Hagaddah

Kaufman Hagaddah. Circa 1360

Jewish Illuminated Manuscript

Rothschild Machzor. Circa 1492

Eyeglasses were used to magnify small details. Scribes would use bone folders to fold the vellum. In order to preserve the manuscript and prevent staining, the scribe would use a special type of blotter under his hand. Scribes used many skilled and precise techniques including agate burnishes for polishing gold, mixing egg white or egg glair with powder and red pigments in a mortar and pestle to obtain a homogeneous type of glue, which was used to stick the genuine thin hammered gold sheets to the parchment. Egg tempera, acrylic color, and watercolors were liberally used. Illumination, the art of lighting up the text with decorations, enhanced the finished product.

 

The invention of the Gutenberg printing press eclipsed this art, which is no longer popular in the secular world, however, in Judaism, the painstaking hand-written labor of writing on kosher parchment with feather/quill is very much alive and thriving. All sifrei torah, kisvei kodesh, and megillos are written in this manner.

 

During medieval times the entire process was completed in a multi-step, assembly line method, using extensive teamwork. One artist drew the design, while other artists painted the manuscript and the scribe wrote the lettering. Today, Rabbi Reiner uses the same techniques detailed above, carefully completing every single phase of the process independently. His goal is to produce authentic Judaic pieces according to “ze Keili v'anvehu" (“This is my G-d, and I will praise him"), a verse associated with the concept of beautification of the mitzvot. His artwork conforms to the halacha and overall, to the Jewish customs and traditions.

 

Historically, many medieval masterpieces were written by Jewish scribes but the illuminations were drawn by non-Jewish artists.

This fact is prominently reflected in the finished pieces. In the gallery section, you can find different pieces of art. Even while maintaining the nature of original manuscripts, every piece can be customized according to each client’s choice. Rabbi Reiner will involve you during the process of completing the artwork. If you are fond of a certain design and wish to match it to another text, it is entirely possible. The size, colors, themes, and miniatures of your personalized work of art can be discussed with the artist at the beginning of the process. 

To learn more about the art of illuminated manuscripts, click here.

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Rabbi Reiner has completed works of art for private collectors, philanthropists, and many institutions. The latter donate these magnificent art pieces as gifts to their generous donors to express their gratitude to them.  What a wonderful way to express enduring appreciation. For art collectors this heirloom will increase in value as the years go by, making it a priceless gift, an antique in years to come. These unique art pieces will add a special beauty and spirituality to every Jewish home.

Contact Me

718.404.8058

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