I have noticed that sefarim (Jewish books) tend to use golden-colored shiny text on the spine and cover. Of course, there are some notable exceptions (e.g. books by Mossad HaRav Kook), but this seems true of the vast majority, including popular books such as the Artscroll series. Indeed, I've noticed that I can distinguish a shelf laden with sefarim from one with secular books at a glance based on whether it shimmers from a distance.

Is there a name for this, and why is it practiced? Has this been in use for a long time, or is it a recent trend? Moreover, was it used in the past for secular books as well?

Example (from User: Reuvenk / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-3.0):

  • 1
    You could ask a similar question about the choice of colour of many sefarim (brownish red, brown, dark blue). Is it not merely a style that has caught on?
    – bondonk
    Dec 26, 2013 at 0:44
  • 3
    similar judaism.stackexchange.com/q/302/759
    – Double AA
    Dec 26, 2013 at 4:02
  • 1
    Because it looks nice?
    – Seth J
    Dec 26, 2013 at 4:02
  • hukat hagoyim :)
    – avi
    Dec 26, 2013 at 7:45

1 Answer 1


While I'm afraid I will be unable to provide a definitive source I believe that my hypothesis to answer the question @DoubleAA referenced in his comment is all but certainly applicable here:

I am not certain but I suspect that it is simply a decorative practice. I believe I have seen it done on older, non-Jewish books and I assume that the practice has faded in favor of more economical/contemporary styles. Jews who buy seforim, on the other hand, are a little more inclined for "classic" styles and or more interested in a more distinguished graphic design (Goldleaf is not common among general books anymore but the rule among seforim).

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