Spitzer, Moshe

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SPITZER, MOSHE (1900–1982), Israeli publisher and typographer. Moshe Spitzer was born in Boskovice, Moravia, studied at the University of Vienna, and then earned his Ph.D. at the University of Kiel in Indian Studies. In the late 1920s he served as Martin Buber's secretary, assisting the philosopher in his German translation of the Bible, and from 1933 he worked for the Schocken Publishing Company in Berlin. In 1939, Spitzer went to Palestine, where in 1940 he established Tarshish Books. Over the years he published over 100 editions of Hebrew literature (Samuel Beckett, Nelly Sachs) and the classics (Dante, Shakespeare). In 1942 he opened a composing (typesetting) shop for his own books and for other publishers. As a partner in the Jerusalem Type Foundry (1950–1960), he revived neglected Hebrew typefaces and initiated the casting on new ones: Romema, Rahat, and Hatzvi. Because of his unceasing demands on compositors and printers, his innate good taste, and his familiarity with European fine printing, he succeeded in raising the level of book production in Israel from the mediocre to the best possible with the materials then available in the country. He commissioned leading Israeli artists to illustrate many of his editions. His publications included The Birds' Head Haggadah (1965–67), the facsimile of a manuscript in the Israel Museum. Spitzer designed books for Schocken, established and managed the Jewish Agency's publishing department from 1945, and directed publishing at the Bialik Institute. He wrote articles on the history of the Hebrew letter. In 1981 he was elected to the Double Crown Club of England for his contribution to fine printing, and he was honorary chairman of Yedidei ha-Sefer, the Israel Bibliophiles. His own publications were exhibited in the Israel Museum (1970) and at the Jewish National and University Library (1981).


H. Goldberg, "The Work of Dr. Moshe Spitzer: Leader in Modern Hebrew Printing and Publishing," Master's thesis, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, School of Library and Archive Studies (1982); Israel Museum, From the Collection of Dr. Moshe Spitzer, Jerusalem, (1982; Cat. No. 172); idem, The Typographical Work of Moshe Spitzer (1970; Cat. No. 73); H.J. Katzenstein, Dr. Moshe Spitzer: Books, Typography, Design (1980); I. Soifer, "The Pioneer Work of Dr. Moshe Spitzer, in: Penrose Annual, 63 (1970), 127–47."

[Leila Avrin]