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Can you help identify/place this Hebrew font?

Philipp Messner is putting together a small exhibit on Hebrew typographer for the Israel Museum this fall. The exhibit will focus on three book and type designers: Franziska Baruch, Henri Friedlaender and Moshe (Moritz) Spitzer, but his chart covers a wider variety of 20th century metal type. He has the following sample:

type sample

He writes: "I found it on the cover of one of the first editions of the Hebrew avant-garde magazine "HaMahar" (edited by Avidgor Hameiri and published 1927-1940 in Tel Aviv and New York). I only got it in this poor quality but it seems to be printed type (the letters are used for different issues, not only for this motto, but for numbering etc.)."

Please contact me if you can identify it, or know anything about the magazine, etc., and I'll pass the word onto Philipp.

Hadassah copyright infringement

I heard elements of this case back when I was in Israel this past December. I wish I understood more—whether or not Friedlander gave up the rights to Hadassah and made it public domain back in the 1950s or not, how long does copyright extend? Beyond the law, to what extend did or should Tvika Rosenberg owe Friedlander or his heirs, regardless? In any event, a Jerusalem court ruled last week that Friedlander's granddaughter owns the rights, and that Masterfont, Rosenberg's company, owes. Here are the details from Ha-aretz.

Court: Inventor's heirs own Hadassah Hebrew typeface: Daughter of man who designed classic font about 70 years ago victorious in copyright infringement suit, by Yuval Saar

… In 2009, Hannah Tal filed a NIS 4.5 million copyright infringement suit against the Israeli company Masterfont for selling the popular typeface created by her father, Henri Friedlaender, for many years without her consent. Ayala Tal, Hannah Tal's daughter and Friedlaender's granddaughter, works at Haaretz as a graphic artist…. [more]

Snapshots from a portfolio - typography of Oded Ezer

Intrigued by Ezra Glinter's enthusiastic, if scantily informed review of the work of Israeli typographer Oded Ezer (A Bubbling Font of Creativity: Oded Ezer and His Hebrew Designs, by Ezra Glinter), I ordered the Israeli designer's recent book, The Typographer's Guide to the Galaxy and had a delightful browse.

Although Ezer has designed several commercial typefaces that I would love to get my hands on an explore, I thought I would focus here on pieces that display his more experimental side. One project described early in the book is a font called "Bet Hillel" intended as an homage and re-imagining/reconstruction of the venerable "Ha-Tzvi" face. I should note that although Ha-Tzvi has fallen out of favor today, it is among the faces I use when I want to evoke a feeling of Israel through the Fifties, even through the Sixties. It is a wonderfully unsubtle monoline expression of "gavriut"—"manliness"—and nicely evokes Uzi ben Gibor. What struck me about Ezer's "Bet Hillel" font, however, is that while the "serifs" (Is this term really appropriate? Is it really the term used by Hebrew typographers to describe the terminating strokes attached to Hebrew letters, as used in one of the articles about Ezer's type included with his book?), anyway, while the serifs follow Ha-Tzvi, the curve and feel of the letters offers homage much more closely to Friedlander's "Hadassah." I have taken the liberty of adding, therefore, a couple of quick scans of Hadassah to a detail grabbed from the book. (Click the excerpt to see a full sample of "Bet Hillel".)

Detail showing Hadassah, Bet-Hillel, Ha-Tzvi

Conversion of Windows TTF to OTF fonts


I have just finished setting a new siddur. That has sucked up time, where there has been time, for a few months. Small project. Less time. I'll try to make some time today, though, to talk about what a wonderful new world I am facing using InDesign ME (supplied by the Font Blog sponsor, FontWorld, if I might extend a grateful plug).

I came down this morning to find an e-mail from Dan Sieradski (better known as "Mobius" of my favorite Jewish blog, Jew*School complaining that he had found a stash of very cool free fonts on the Internet, something called "Ben's fonts, but that he couldn't use them on his Mac with OS X. I downloaded them and confirmed that they were simply standard Windows Hebrew fonts. That's all Mobius needed - he found an appropriate utility to convert Windows to Mac TrueType (TTF) and he was off and running. I decided to try the slower, "read into FontLab, save as TrueType" route, which also works perfectly. Open the font. For whatever reason, FontLab saw these as "MacOS Roman" (odd, given that the fonts were Windows TTF—that may have been a default for the Macintosh version of FontLab). I then set the encoding "to "ISO-8859-8 Hebrew" and saved as OpenType (OTF). Now I have a single version that can be used on any of the household computers, be they Mac or Windows (or, coming soon, Linux).

There is probably a FontLab-related tool to automate this. I'll have to check. While I was at it, I also took a look at some fonts that came with the original version of Dagesh, back when my friends at Kivun, in Israel, were working on it. They don't seem to match any known encoding, but it occurs to me that it wouldn't be such a big deal to convert these, too, to OTF. Since the character sets are larger, the results would be useful for Hebrew with vowels, Yiddish, etc. It's not a project for this week, but it could be coming soon.

Free Yiddish Fonts


A query on the UYIP list for "free Yiddish fonts" drew this response from Gerben Zaagsma:

Dr. Berlin's Foreign Font Archive can be found at:

There is a link to "Ancient/Modern Hebrew and Yiddish Typefaces" in the left frame. The Yiddish font is called "Ain Yiddishe Font". It is a zip file and if i remember well it can (after using a conversion utility) be used on Macs as well as Windows-based computers.

Note that the quality (both in terms of how the characters are drawn, and especially in how they fit together) may not be professional, but that doesn't matter for most uses of the fonts. [ari]

Update on the German Hebrew Type Database

I have been confused by the shambles of the German Hebrew Type database website, as referenced by the 2001 paper on the project. To my delight, however, I got Dr. Tamari's new e-mail address and he assures me that the overall site is being redone, and that the database is alive and well at This is an amazing page. A wonderful for typophiles. I return to my earlier stated belief that this is the most exciting Hebrew type project currently ongoing.

New Hebrew Type Blog sponsor

FontWorld logoBack about 15 years ago, the genesis of this weblog was the E-HUG electronic mail newsletter. Originally sent out from my account on the WELL, E-HUG was offered a home at Dartmouth and about 20 issues were sent out around 1990. One of my favorite vendors at the time was FontWorld, run by Mark Seldowitz, who marketed the fonts created by his brother, Israel, who had studied in Israel, the country, with the creator of Hadassah, Henry Friedländer.

FontWorld still sells fonts for just about every world alphabet (including both Hebrew and Arabic fonts). They are also the US source for the Middle Eastern versions of Adobe software (e.g., that version of InDesign that knows from Hebrew and vowels). It is with great pleasure that I announce that they have agreed to sponsor these pages. Their sponsorship gives me an excuse to renew an old friendship, and helps me draw attention to their good work.

Many thanks.

Hebrew on the Web

I've been researching Hebrew on the web for several months. A friend of mine at Hebrew College asked me to look at several URLs and figure out what he could do to put things online that would be equally accessible under Hebrew-enabled Macs or PCs (or, for that matter, Linux, Unix, whatever). As folks who have done this for years know, this is messy. There are two general standards, the Windows way (charset=Windows-1255), and the supposedly standard way, (charset=iso-8859-8). If you are encoding your pages straight UTF-8, you also take advantage of Unicode. Last year I did some tests with my friend Jack Woehr and we discovered that if you really write Unicode, Hebrew displays fine on Mac and PC using utf-8. This year I got a quick project to get some Hebrew up on the web for "we are the future" and jumped in to see if I could find something simple. The results mostly work on PC, but there are some issues on the Mac, under OS X, using Safari.

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