|Parent company||Mesorah Publications|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Headquarters location||New York|
ArtScroll is an imprint of translations, books and commentaries from an Orthodox Jewish perspective published by Mesorah Publications, Ltd., a publishing company based in Brooklyn, New York. Its general editors are Rabbis Nosson Scherman and Meir Zlotowitz.
The first ArtScroll publication was a translation of the Book of Esther (Megillat Esther) in 1977. The translation and publication was done by Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz & Rabbi Nosson Scherman in memory of a deceased friend of theirs. The book's first edition sold out its 20,000 copies.
ArtScroll publishes books on a variety of Jewish subjects. The best known probably an annotated Hebrew-English siddur ("prayerbook") (the best-selling The ArtScroll Siddur). In recent years its Torah translation and commentary, a series of translations and commentaries on books of the Tanach (Hebrew Bible), and an English translation and elucidation of the Babylonian Talmud have enjoyed great success. Other publications include works on Jewish Law, and novels and factual works based on Jewish life or history. Over 800 books have been published to date.
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Mesorah Publications received widespread acclaim in response to their ArtScroll line of prayerbooks, starting with The Complete ArtScroll Siddur, Ed. Nosson Scherman, 1984. This work gained wide acceptance in the Orthodox Jewish community, and within a few years became a best-selling Hebrew-English siddur (prayerbook) in the United States. It offered the reader detailed notes and instructions on most of the prayers and versions of this prayerbook were produced for the High Holidays, and the three pilgrimage festivals Passover, Sukkot and Shavuot.
In 1993 Mesorah Publications published The Chumash: The Stone Edition, a Torah translation and commentary arranged for liturgical use sponsored by Mr. Irving Stone of Cleveland, Ohio. It has since become a best-selling English-Hebrew Torah translation and commentary in the U.S. and other English-speaking countries.
While ArtScroll books are not used as the official Torah commentaries by any non-Orthodox synagogues, they have some usage in the non-Orthodox Jewish community and many Reform and Conservative Jews have purchased copies.
Since the advent of ArtScroll, a number of Jewish publishers have printed books and siddurim with similar typefaces and commentary, but with a different commentary and translation philosophy. Two new siddur commentaries published by Conservative Judaism's Rabbinical Assembly, Or Hadash, were noticeably inspired by Artscroll.
Works published by Mesorah under this imprint adhere to a perspective appealing to most Orthodox Jews, but especially to Orthodox Jews who have come from less religious backgrounds, but are returning to the faith. Due to the makeup of the Jewish community in the USA, most of the prayer books are geared to the Ashkenazic custom. In more recent years, Artscroll has collaborated with Sephardic community leaders in an attempt to bridge this gap. Examples of this include a Sephardic Haggadah published by Artscroll, written by Sephardic Rabbi Eli Mansour, and the book Aleppo, about a prominent Sephardic community in Syria.
In translations and commentaries, ArtScroll works with the traditional framework of Halakha (Jewish law) accepting midrashic accounts in a historical fashion, and at times literally, and generally disregards (and occasionally disagrees with) textual criticism.
Schottenstein Edition Talmud
Mesorah has a line of Mishnah translations and commentaries, and a line of Babylonian Talmud translations and commentaries, The Schottenstein Edition of The Talmud Bavli ("Babylonian Talmud"). The set of Talmud was completed in late 2004, giving a 73 volume English edition of the entire Talmud. This was the second complete translation of the Talmud into English (the other being the Soncino Talmud published in the United Kingdom during the mid-twentieth century).
The first volume, Tractate Makkos, was published in 1990, and dedicated by Mr. and Mrs. Marcos Katz. Jerome Schottenstein was introduced to the publication committee shortly thereafter. He began by donating funds for the project in memory of his parents Ephraim and Anna Schottenstein one volume at a time, and later decided to back the entire project. When Jerome died, his children and widow, Geraldine, rededicated the project to his memory in addition to those of his parents. The goal of the project was to, "open the doors of the Talmud and welcome its people inside."
The text generally consists of two side-by-side pages: one of the Aramaic/Hebrew Vilna Edition text, and the corresponding page consists of an English translation. The English translation has a bolded literal translation of the Talmud's text, but also includes un-bolded text clarifying the literal translation. (The original Talmud's text is often very unclear, referring to places, times, people, and laws that it does not explain. The un-bolded text attempts to explain these situations. The text of the Talmud also contains few prepositions, articles, etc. The un-bolded text takes the liberty of inserting these parts of speech.) The result is an English text that reads in full sentences with full explanations, while allowing the reader to distinguish between direct translation and a more liberal approach to the translation. (This also results in one page of the Vilna Talmud requiring several pages of English translation.) Below the English translation appear extensive notes including diagrams.
ArtScroll's English explanations and footnoted commentary in the Schottenstein Edition of the Talmud are based on the perspective of classical Jewish sources. The clarifying explanation is generally based on the viewpoint of Rashi, the medieval commentator who wrote the first comprehensive commentary on the Talmud. The Schottenstein Edition does not include contemporary academic or critical scholarship.
The total cost of the project is estimated at US$21 million, most of which was contributed by private donors and foundations. Some volumes have up to 2 million copies in distribution, while more recent volumes have only 90,000 copies currently printed. A completed set was dedicated on February 9, 2005, to the Library of Congress, and the siyum (celebration at the "completion") was held on March 15, 2005, the 13th yahrzeit of Jerome Schottenstein, at the New York Hilton.
Mesorah and the Schottenstein family have also begun a Hebrew version of the commentary and have begun both an English and Hebrew translation of the Talmud Yerushalmi (Jerusalem Talmud).
The two major differences between the way Sefardi and Ashkenazi Hebrew dialects are transcribed are as follows:
- the letter Tav without a dagesh (emphasis point) is transcribed as [t] and [s] respectively
- ArtScroll uses the latter
- the vowel kamatz gadol, is transcribed [a] and [o] respectively
- ArtScroll uses the former
As such you would have the following transliterations:
|Shabbos||Shabbat||Shabbos (ArtScroll makes an exception due to widespread usage)|
|Akeidas Yitzchok||Akedat Yitzhak||Akeidas Yitzchak|
|The neutrality of this article is disputed. Please see the discussion on the talk page. Please do not remove this message until the dispute is resolved. (December 2007)|
This line of books has come under criticism from some scholars (both Orthodox and non-Orthodox) on a number of points:
- Their Tanach commentaries make no attempt to directly translate the text of the Tanach. Rather, the introductions to their Tanach commentaries state the medieval rabbinic commentators or midrash compilations that the editors favor, and write an English language text in accord with these interpretations, thus "removing surface difficulties". However, this method is the opposite of what most translators consider translation. In the introduction to Koheles: Ecclesiastes (ArtScroll Tanach Series), Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz writes:
- As with the previously published books, we began with a new, free-flowing translation of the text - not always literal, but faithful to Rabbinic interpretation. Designed to be as readable as possible, the translation removed many of the "surface difficulties" dealt with by the Midrash, Rashi and Ibn Ezra, by incorporating their interpretations into the translation.
- In their Tanach (Bible, "Old Testament") and in their siddurim and machzorim (which are used during prayer services), Shir HaShirim (the Song of Songs or Song of Solomon, a poem describing the intimate relationship of a man and a woman) is translated following Rashi's commentary. This provides a non-literal metaphoric explanation in which the erotic elements have been eliminated. (in the one-volume Shir HaShirim a full literal translation is included.)
- A large number of grammatical errors exist in their Bible and commentary translations, changing the meaning of these passages:
- Dikduk (grammar) is anathema in many Jewish circles, but the translation and presentation of texts is, to a large extent, a philological activity and must be philologically accurate. The Artscroll effort has not achieved a respectable level. There are dozens of cases where prepositions are misunderstood, where verb tenses are not perceived properly and where grammatical or linguistic terms are used incorrectly. Words are often vocalized incorrectly. These observations, it should be stressed, are not limited to the Bible text but refer to the talmudic, midrashic, targumic, medieval and modern works as well. Rabbinical passages are removed from their contexts, presented in fragmentary form thus distorting their contents, emended to update their messages even though these new ideas were not expressed in the texts themselves, misvocalized, and mistranslated: i.e. misrepresented. 
- In the biographies of Rabbis Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin (the Netziv) and Shlomo Yosef Zevin, their Zionist leanings were not reported (or under-represented). The Netziv is believed to have been much more tolerant towards secular studies by yeshiva students, a detail pointed out by Yeshiva University's Rabbi J.J. Schachter in a 1991 article; in this article, he warned of historical revisionism. 
- The ArtScroll library is sectarian, and is not meant to represent a secular historical view, but rather their interpretation of Haredi Orthodox view.
- Rabbi B. Barry Levy. "Our Torah, Your Torah and Their Torah: An Evaluation of the ArtScroll phenomenon.". In: "Truth and Compassion: Essays on Religion in Judaism", Ed. H. Joseph et al.. Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1983.
- B. Barry Levy. "Judge Not a Book By Its Cover". Tradition 19(1)(Spring 1981): 89-95 and an exchange of letters in Tradition 1982;20:370-375.
- Jacob J. Schachter, "Facing the Truths of History" Torah u-Madda Journal 8 (1998-1999): 200-276 (PDF file).
- Jacob J. Schachter, "Haskalah, Secular Studies, and the close of the Yeshiva in Volozhin in 1892" Torah u-Madda Journal
- ↑ Artscroll captures Zeitgeist
- ↑ B. Barry Levy, Judge Not a Book By Its Cover B. Barry Levy, "Tradition" Vol. 19(1), Spring 1981, p.89-95
- ↑ "Haskalah, Secular Studies and the Close of the Yeshiva in Volozhin in 1892", Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter, The Torah U-Madda Journal, Volume Two, 1990 (p.76-133.)
- Company website
- Jewish Press Interview with Nosson Scherman
- Jeremy Stolow (2006), ArtScroll, Encyclopedia Judaica; via Jewish Virtual Library
- Critical evaluations of Artscrollceb:ArtScroll