The Form of Prayers according to the Spanish and Portuguese Jews

Open book with yellowed pages and black printed text. Single page is juxtaposed over the right side, displaying handwritten script.

David Levi, editor (English, 1740-1799). The Form of Prayers according to the Spanish and Portuguese Jews. 1788. W. Justins, Blackfriars, London. BM674.27 1788. Isser and Rae Price Library of Judaica, Special & Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida.

This Sephardi prayer-book printed in London in 1788, was first owned by a family living in Barbados. The Jewish community in Barbados was founded by exiles from Recife after it had been recaptured by the Portuguese in 1654. By the 18th century, Jews living in the British West Indies had established close trading and family ties with Sephardi Jews in London.

In the book’s end leaves, the owner, Nathan Hart, left evidence of his family life, including his wedding in 1795 to his “dear beloved” wife, Jael Costela. Hart also documented the birth of his daughter in May 1803 and her death four months later. He recorded the births of each of his three sons, Naphtali, Ralph, and Isaac, and, finally, noted the death of his mother on St. Thomas Island in 1808.