Papal Bible Box


Peres presents the Nano Bible to Pope Benedict XVI

A couple of weeks ago I got a call from the Technion in Haifa asking if I could make a box that looked like an old book. I said that I could and they told me that they were working on a very special project. Someone there had engraved the entire Hebrew Bible (called the Tanach) onto a gold-plated silicon chip .5-mm. square and they wanted a box that looked like an old Bible to present it in. They left the design and execution up to me.

Part way through the construction, I was told that the chip was going to be presented to Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to Israel.


The Box

I used a copy of a finishing tool from the 13th century to make a design that created a magen David (Star of David) in the background leather. I was a bit nervous about making a box without having the material that was going into it, but when the chip in its glass case was brought to me, everything fit together perfectly.

The people who made the chip took it with the box to President Peres and the following week he presented it to the Pope. Unfortunately I was not invited to either presentation.

nano3Magen David Detail
  1. #1 by yitzhak greenfield - June 4th, 2009 at 11:02

    What a pleasure to see your recent fine work. Thank you for sharing the completion of this project.

    My best wishes to an artist and master craftsman

    Yitzhak Greenfield

  2. #2 by noa - June 3rd, 2009 at 07:50

    first the queen of england and now the pope…
    It looks amazing!

  3. #3 by מיכאל מגן - June 1st, 2009 at 02:17

    יהודה, הקופסא “מלאכת מחשבת” והעובדה שלא הזמינו אותך היא “מלאכת פספסת” אבל מי שרואה את הקופסא מבין מייד שמי שעומד מאחורי הכנתה- הוא אמן בנשמתו ובידיו, בברכה מיכאל

  4. #4 by gino - June 1st, 2009 at 02:00

    hai avuto il lavoro perchè io non ero più disponibile bravo, bravissimo, gino

  5. #5 by Janet Berg - May 31st, 2009 at 16:34

    Quite an interesting quote from Bishop Jacob….:-)….See the introduction to the metal section of Theophilus’ “On Divers Arts”…..

    Yehudah–you’re a very naughty boy for not calling me to pop by to see it! Dying to see some close-ups of the inner box–the display structure and the chip….

  6. #6 by PB - May 28th, 2009 at 11:57

    Yeuda-you are the greatest-”kol hakavod” but look at the ” wisdom” of men first they take all the trouble to “microscopize” the book of books only to put it in a large cover ??? Pinhas

  7. #7 by Linda Falter - May 26th, 2009 at 09:34

    Kol hakavod! A beautiful binding.. reminiscent of the Sephardi box-bindings of the fifteenth century. Bravo!
    Warmest good wishes,
    Linda and Michael Falter

  8. #8 by shirley p - May 25th, 2009 at 20:39

    amazing! what an honor! you are so incredibly talented!

  9. #9 by Rebecca Landau - May 25th, 2009 at 19:51


    Thanks for informing me. Glad to hear that you are recognized in your field for the work you create. I am sorry that you were not invited to the presentation.


  10. #10 by Mordechai Beck - May 25th, 2009 at 16:24

    I hope the Pope gets the message:
    size means nothing!

    Now you got to do one for Mr Dylan


  11. #11 by jethro - May 25th, 2009 at 13:09

    Hello Yehuda!
    I must say I reckon seeing your work is far more exciting than meeting the pope!

    Looking forward to seeing the galleries when they appear,

    much love,


  12. #12 by Judy Jaffe - May 25th, 2009 at 09:03

    How very beautiful and special! And a very great honor to have been asked to create this. A pity you were not at the presentation. Thank you for sharing this.

  13. #13 by Paul McClafferty - May 25th, 2009 at 07:27

    A beautiful vessel for a beautiful tome. Congratulations, Uncle Yehuda, those who love you are proud!

  14. #14 by Archie Granot - May 25th, 2009 at 06:31

    A work of perfection. My congratulations.

  15. #15 by Nahum Ben Zvi - May 25th, 2009 at 06:14

    Dear Yehuda
    Iam glad to know that the pope recieved another unique bible and especially from you

  16. #16 by shlomo - May 25th, 2009 at 05:59

    Can you imagine if Peres and the Pope actually followed what was in the chip? The good parts

  17. #17 by pinhas - May 25th, 2009 at 03:55

    Yeuda-you are the greatest-”kol hakavod” but look at the ” wisdom” of men first they take all the trouble to “microscopize” the book of books only to put it in a large cover ??? Pinhas

  18. #18 by Rimona - May 25th, 2009 at 03:14

    Well, better to have your beautiful work there than merely attending a political ceremony such as it was.
    Well done! (I only wish it weren’t leather …)

  19. #19 by Gili Mehr - May 25th, 2009 at 02:48

    הי, ברכות על ה”אריזה” המשובחת והנאה, הופנתי לקישור על ידי בן דודך ישראל פיקהולץ, ועל כך נתונה לו תודתי. הערכתי הרבה ל”אריזה” היפה מעצימה
    על אף חוסר הרגישות של המארגנים להזמינך למעמד הרם.
    מסתבר שמאמר חז”ל אודות “אל תסתכל בקנקן אלא במה שיש בו” , נלקח ביתר רצינות ולעיתים הקנקן הוא התוכן האמיתי . שהרי בכל קנקן מתבקש שיהיה בו תוכן הראוי להיות כלי המכיל תוכן. כבוד גדול, הכי חשוב ההנאה והסיפוק
    בעצם היצירה וניכר כי נעשתה באומנות , מיומנות ואהבה.

  20. #20 by Uzi Agassi - May 25th, 2009 at 02:36

    Just fabulous!!! I agree with all that was written above : Exquisite design! Masterfully executed!
    (It is fascinating to read all the comments before.)


  21. #21 by Yair Medina - May 25th, 2009 at 02:31

    just beautiful – Kol Hakavod !

  22. #22 by Shevach Black,Jerusalem Art Bindery - May 25th, 2009 at 01:09

    Yehuda, even you, Israel’s greatest bookbinder had every reason to be nervous. Those of us who have ever worked on a project where the contents are not ready yet and are commissioned to make the case know what a disaster this can be. There is always an underlying lurking feeling that maybe the dimentions that they gave are not correct, or maybe there are other considerations which they not being bookbinders overlooked. I am very happy that everything worked out for you.
    You have alwasy been an inspiration for me as well as, I’m sure, all of the other bookbinders here in Israel who go the extra mile. Those who reach the stage where they really understand the art of bookbinding can keep coming back to your example and view a purist who keeps himself on track with his dreams.

  23. #23 by Barry Walfish - May 24th, 2009 at 21:12

    Yishar kohakha, Yehuda. Beautiful work! Shame on them for not inviting you.


  24. #24 by Lana - May 24th, 2009 at 19:18

    What a fantastic piece of art. I do think that you should have been invited to the presentation but the honour of know that you did is quite an honour.

  25. #25 by gary prouk - May 24th, 2009 at 19:18

    My dear old friend and my binder from another time and another
    place. Moments pass, beauty endures.

  26. #26 by Barbe Feldman - May 24th, 2009 at 19:10

    Congratulations…what is with not being invited to the show….bad form !!!!!
    Your work just becomes more beautiful with time. Still remember book binding in the portable at Sheridan College. Hope you and your beautiful family are well. Barbe XX

  27. #27 by Archbishop Peter Paul Brennan - May 24th, 2009 at 19:09

    Yehuda, I am very proud of your good work. The book is beautiful and you and your lovely family are well honored by your talent and skill. Kudos to you. The pope is a lucky fellow to get your carefully crafted book case.
    Your brother, +Peter Paul

  28. #28 by elke - May 24th, 2009 at 17:40

    Thats sooo cool:) Did you freak out once u found out who it was for??:) Fantastic:)

  29. #29 by esti - May 24th, 2009 at 17:40

    !!!!!!כל הכבוד

  30. #30 by Lindsey - May 24th, 2009 at 16:17

    Fabulous!!!! It’s absolutely beautiful. What a feather in your cap — though what a shame they didn’t invite you. I bet you and the Pope would have had an interesting conversation …..

  31. #31 by Darrell Tschirhart - May 24th, 2009 at 15:41

    Exquisite design!
    Masterfully executed!

  32. #32 by Ruth Ritchie - May 24th, 2009 at 14:22

    Beautiful work! I think that you should have been invited to the presentation.

  33. #33 by Michael Keller - May 24th, 2009 at 14:04

    Just an incredible design and execution Yehuda. It reminds me why I’ve been ‘sanely’ jealous of your gifts since the begining; and why I take pains to explain to folks that I am Not a Fine Binder. Pretty callous of Them not to invite the creator of such a masterpiece though.
    Brilliant. Michael.

  34. #34 by andi arnovitz - May 24th, 2009 at 14:00

    Yehudah, I had heard that you made the presentation case, and it sounded amazing. What a marvelous accomplishment: mazel tov. You can add having your work in the Vatacan to your long list of accomplishments. -Andi

  35. #35 by Dan Yardeni - May 24th, 2009 at 13:58


    Absolutely fabulous!

    Best regards,

    Dan Yardeni

  36. #36 by Dave Allen - May 24th, 2009 at 13:36

    Great Job! I am amazed at the speed you got this done. I sure wouldn’t be able to turn out something this grand in a few weeks.

  37. #37 by Karan - May 24th, 2009 at 13:36

    Hi Big Brother,

    Such an honour to be chosen to do this project. It shows you and your work are recognized. I too agree they should have had the artist at this presentation.

    You must have such a feeling of satisfaction to have created this beautiful work of art.

    Karan and Bob

  38. #38 by Israel P. - May 24th, 2009 at 13:29


    You should put this on Facebook, LinkedIn or wherever else you have accounts.

  39. #39 by Paul Davies - May 24th, 2009 at 13:17

    Bravo! Beautiful work.

  40. #40 by Bishop Jacob - May 24th, 2009 at 12:34

    When one picks a bouquet of exquisitely beautiful flowers and gives them to a special visitor, does anyone look at them and at least nentally thank the CREATOR Who is so lavish in His unlimited forms of perceptible harmony of radiant colours, the shape of petals, and what about the fragrance of both beauty in the humble Cyclamen that takes shelter amongst low lying thorny shrubs to avoid being gobbled down by goats. Too many people like goats fail to appreciate artists whose hands are somwhat like the Hands of the Maker and are able to produce such aesthetic marvels that they too ought to be appreciated. What a magnificent box the talented and genius Jerusalem book binder was able to prepare as a replica in equal artistry. Let us hope that he, like the unassuming Cyclamens which always have their gentle heads bowed without losing their majesty. These flowers are a visible expression of the Invisible Artist who creates such beautfy from nothingness. The artistic artifact photographed here also manifests the created talent that is not to the credit of the person who also produces splendidly bound books, and everyone who sees such work should also quietly praise the Maker from Whom this artist has endowed him with such exceptional talent. It is not enough to see this work by merely glancing at it. One must look at it closely in order to enjoy the mute detail and design. The people who received this masterpiece fail to appreciate the master who produced it, and even the person who now possesses it does not have the capacity to appreciate it let alone be amazed than anyone nowadays could be so talented. It is my hope that anonymous admirers will want to know who it was that has been so gifted by the Almighty, and that it was not the work of a robot operated by a computer. I am fortunate in being an acquaintance of this unique artist. Perhaps had be been at the presentation, he as an individual would not have been appreciated, and this would have been a descration of his person, since cordiality alone is not sufficient to compensate for the absence of genuine appreciation of the artist, if only his work of art is appreciated. It is the same with us when we are surrounded and flooded by the beauty of the Creator’s countless works of art that intoxicate our soul with joy so that we look for words to pour out our gratitude in amazment and praise to His Divine Majesty. My compliments and greetings to this artist in Jerusalem! Seeing his work in the past has caused me great joy indeed, and likewise this time once again from the photograph that is here.

  41. #41 by Ruth Cohn - May 23rd, 2009 at 15:37

    Did you take any photographs of the box and the gold chip inside?

    I am amazed that they did not invite you to the presentation- your being present on such a grand occassion would have probably been very satisfying and completing after all the pressure of work you put into it.

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