The Ashuri script (Hebrew: כְּתָב אַשּׁוּרִי, ktav ashurí), translated either as "Assyrian alphabet" or "beautiful alphabet," is a traditional calligraphic form of the alphabet shared between Hebrew and Aramaic. Over some centuries, certain ornaments were simplified or removed for use outside of traditional religious calligraphy, to become the modern print form of the Hebrew alphabet, which it most closely resembles.
Mention of the Ashuri script first appears in rabbinic writings of the Mishnaic and Talmudic periods, referring to the formal script used in certain Jewish ceremonial items, such as sifrei Torah, tefillin, and mezuzot. Also sometimes called the "square" script, the term is used to distinguish the Ashuri script from the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet.
There are many rules concerning the proper formation of letters if the written text is to be valid for religious purposes.
Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Mizrahi, and Yemenite Jews, as well as the Chabad (Lubavitch) movement, each have their own calligraphic tradition regarding certain details of how each letter is formed, although the overall shape is similar. Generally, while each tradition favors their own calligraphic style, none consider the other traditions passul (invalid) for Torah scrolls or any other ritually used scroll or parchment.
Samaritans maintain a calligraphic tradition different from the Ashuri script, using instead the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet they employ for their scriptures.
- Shurpin, Yehuda. "What Is the Authentic Hebrew Script? - Ketav Ivri vs. Ketav Ashurit". www.chabad.org. Retrieved 2017-02-21.
- Rich, Tracey R. "Judaism 101: Hebrew Alphabet". www.jewfaq.org. Retrieved 2017-02-21.