Aaron Schmiedel's Rashi Font

quadibloc's picture

I had been looking around for Hebrew fonts on the Web, now that my understanding of which font is which has improved.

I found that I was navigating the Calmus site wrongly, and they do have versions of their fonts available that work on Windows, not just for Linux.

However, I also found some puzzling things.

One is that the free Hebrew font from Bible Study Tools appears to be a demo font, because two of the final forms - for Kaph and Mem - are reduced in size slightly, so they don't come up to the normal top line of the other characters.

This could be intentional to prevent it from being used commercially for publishing instead of just viewing texts, but I didn't see anything about that on their site.

Another is that I couldn't find a font corresponding to the type style labelled as "Rabbinic" in old type catalogues, such as that of ATF. This style is better known as "Rashi", and is the style used for some of the Gemara in traditional editions of the Talmud, to distinguish them from the Mishnah. (There is a closely related style, "Vaybertaytsh", used for Yiddish typesetting. I haven't found any fonts for that style either.)

Except, that is, until I found one site which had a mix of freeware and shareware fonts; it didn't identify which was which. They mentioned a Rashi font. It turned out it was part of a package of six fonts, and those fonts actually belonged to an application program for typing Hebrew on your computer. Under Windows 3.1, and they were non-Unicode. The package was shareware, though.

I looked to see if I could find the present site of whoever made the program. I didn't find that, but I did find the Rashi font by itself, billed as a free font, on a font search site. That, though, isn't necessarily evidence that it's really a free font now, as many designers here know all too well. What I couldn't find was a current site either for the font's designer, Aaron Schmiedel, or for the company that made the shareware program, KESHERworks.

quadibloc's picture

An example is page 881 of the 1912 ATF catalogue, where a "Rabbinic" style is shown. and another is shown on page 25 of Rafael Frank's work "Über Hebräische Typen und Schriftarten".

gohebrew's picture

There are many designs of the Rashi font, as you see both in old manuscripts and books.

quadibloc's picture

Well, I found another allegedly free Rashi font floating around the Web. This one is a Unicode font, and it belongs to a collection called the "Kivun Core Fonts".

A web search turned up a claim that they were designed for IBM at one time long ago, and it gave a list of the styles in the package.

The one I found, though, contains at least one font that tells me that this can't possibly be a set of free fonts. One of them is called Koren!

raphaelfreeman's picture

This is a set of fonts that Shmuel Gutman created for a now-defunct company called Accent-Kivun. Microsoft bought these typefaces and bundled at least some of them (including Koren/Keren) in Office.

I can of course only comment on the Koren font. This was not produced by Mr Gutman z"l with permission of Koren and is now the subject of a court case between Koren and Microsoft!

I don't think they were designed for IBM though. Kivun was a company creating a multilingual wordprocessor which allowed different keyboards and language support the idea being that european companies might find this useful. Half of my friends worked there at the time (it was a company employing all the frum anglos in Jerusalem!

I told them that the concept was irrelevant since the next version of Windows allowed this functionality built-in. The response was, er, really? The company went bankrupt shortly thereafter!

quadibloc's picture

I am just glad, then, since this didn't include the properly licensed Koren, they weren't bundled with the Israel version of OS/2. Presumably, of course, as Type 1 fonts, and converted as well as distributed in violation of the license. It means there will be no need to sue IBM.

aaronschmiedel's picture

Wow.. haven't seen that font in quite a while. I think I got one payment for them back in the day. Writing a keyboard driver for Hebrew/Windows 3.1 was tricky. :) Anyway, feel free to use the fonts in the package.

You can catch me on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000688521372) if you need.

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