It was December 1512 when the first Hebrew book on Czech territory was printed in Prague
, using a press financed by a consortium of Jewish printers and financiers. This was only the start of a long and successful journey for Jewish printers, who were not only among the first in the field but also excelled in craft and fine arts terms. Prague
was not the only place with Jewish-owned printing presses; they were soon also in operation in Brno, Prostějov and Mikulov. In the decades that followed many titles saw the light of day on Bohemian and Moravian printing presses, the vast majority religious or religious-philosophical in character.
At the very beginning, Jewish printers produced virtually exclusively prayer books and Jewish Bibles, in large part due to the fact the poor had little access to rabbis. The teacher, translator and editor Moše Sertels summed it up with one line when in the glossary of a Hebrew Bible he employed the advertising slogan “And you won’t need to visit a Rabbi”. At the start of the 17th
century books by contemporary authors, the sermons of local rabbinical authorities and even works by lay scholars, including women, began to appear. The printing works soon began to make an impact beyond the community, leading to them becoming the targets of hatred in their broader districts. An example of this was when in 1629 the authorities shut down the Katzovská and Bakovská printing works, which had been running for 30 years, due to one of many scandals kindled by informers. When they were reopened they were subject to strict censorship due to nothing but the majority society’s fear of the wisdom contained in books. This did not stop the Jewish printers and for several centuries their books became bearers of faith and knowledge.