26 June 2012
The National Bank of Slovakia has issued a new coin marking the 250th anniversary of the birth of Chatam Sofer (1762-1839), one of Europe's most noted scholars of the Talmud and founder of the Bratislava Yeshiva which continued as a primary institute of Hebrew education until the outbreak of World War II. Born in Frankfurt as Moses Schreiber, Sofer traveled to Moravia (now part of the Czech Republic) as a scholar in 1782 where he became recognized as an authority in the teachings of the Talmud. The yeshiva he founded in Bratislava in 1806 eventually became the most influential institute of Hebrew studies.
The graves of Sofer and other Jewish scholars were covered by a tramway after World War II (see picture of 1986, below) but have since been restored. The site is now a memorial managed by the local Jewish community and draws a great number of visitors every year.
The € 10 silver coin is the work of designer Pavel Károly and depicts a portrait of Sofer inspired from an Oil painting by Ber Frank Halevi's original drawing. The depiction is placed within a triangle, one half of a traditional Star of David, and a menorah is positioned below the portrait. His year of birth and death, 1762 and 1839 is seen on either side of the menorah. The scholar's name is placed around the upper left edge and the same - in Hebrew letters is positioned on the right side. The reverse design includes a scenic depiction of the Slovak capital Bratislava during the time of the founding of Sofer's yeshiva.
Photo below: Andres Lacko.