The First Hebrew Grammar Published in the New World

Monis, Judah, 1683-1764. Dickdook leshon gnebreet. A Grammar of the Hebrew Tongue, Being an Essay to Bring the Hebrew Grammar into English, to Facilitate the Instruction of All Those Who Are Desirous of Acquiring a Clear Idea of This Primitive Tongue by Their Own Studies ... Boston, N.E., Printed by Jonas Green, and are to be sold by the author at his house in Cambridge, 1735. [2] p. l., 94, [2] p. 24 cm. [Safe 364 Monis]

Born in 1683 in either Italy or Algiers, Monis was educated in the Jewish schools of Leghorn and Amsterdam. Although his occupation was listed as "merchant," he apparently served as a rabbi in Jamaica and in New York. In 1720 he had submitted the draft of this Hebrew grammar to the Harvard Corporation and sought aid in getting it published. Two years later, he was appointed Instructor of Hebrew at Harvard and baptized in the old College Hall. He was granted an honorary A.M. in 1723 (often given incorrectly as 1720). His Hebrew grammar was finally published in 1735, with a special Hebrew type font ordered from England. He retired to Northboro, Mass., in 1760 and died in 1764.

This copy was owned by Elizur Holyoke (1731-1806), who as a student at Harvard (class of 1750) would have studied Hebrew with Monis. Elizur Holyoke was the nephew of Edward Holyoke, President of Harvard from 1737 to 1769. He served as minister of the First Church and Parish in Boxford from 1758 to 1797. He wrote his name on the flyleaf in Hebrew: Elizur followed by qodesh ("holy") + alah ("oak").

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Sources of information:
Karp, Abraham J. From the Ends of the Earth: Judaic Treasures of the Library of Congress. Washington: Library of Congress, 1991.
Sibley, John Langdon. Biographical Sketches of Graduates of Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Cambridge: Charles William Sever, University Bookstore, 1873-.
Silberschlag, Eisig. "Judah Monis in the Light of an Unpublished Manuscript." Proceedings, American Academy for Jewish Research, v. 46-47 (1979-80) ("Jubilee Volume"), p. 495-529.