Between the Lines, vol. 16, n. 1 (Spring 2003)


Dorothy Tapper Goldman Appointed Chair of The Library Board of Overseers

In her own words, Dorothy Tapper Goldman relates her first encounter, four years ago, with the JTS library: "I first heard about the library from a JTS board member while taking a course at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and relating my interests in collecting printed Americana. Subsequently, I was invited for a tour of the Rare Book Room at the library and was overwhelmed by what I saw. From that point, a mutual interest took place resulting in my serving as a library board member for the past two years. Last summer, I accepted Rabbi Carol Davidson's request to assume chairmanship of the board. It was around that time that I began to formulate my vision for the board's activities. Being exposed to the magnificent and varied collection at the library I felt that a bridge connecting the world of JTS to communities across the country can and must be built in order to introduce, educate and inform the public of these amazing Judaic resources. Discussion, dialogue and a lot of listening helped to fashion the venue of creating a facsimile exhibition program to be pursued by the Board in order to facilitate showcasing of the material without having to deal with the original material which is a costly and difficult process to execute. It is my hope to accomplish this goal with the help of a wonderful staff and energetic board and have our first facsimile exhibition in September."

Dorothy Tapper Goldman holds an MS degree in Education from Massachusetts College of Art, and a BS degree in Education from Tufts University. She served as a tenured professor at Wentworth Institute of Technology, School of Architecture, in Boston. She is an avid collector of rare and important Constitutional printed matter, early Americana/Revolutionary matter, fine Chinese porcelains, furniture, paintings and sculpture, native American baskets and printed matter, and documents relating to the United States Supreme Court donated to the Court in 2001.

Dorothy holds many private and society memberships, including: The American Antiquarian Society, The American Philosophical Society, The Grolier Club, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Asia Society, The Supreme Court Historical Society Board of Trustees, The National Constitution Center Board of Trustees, The Manuscript Society Board of Trustees, and a J.P. Morgan Fellow.


Library Receives Extraordinary Gift

This past fall, the library received a magnificent gift of over eight hundred works on paper and eighty books from collector extraordinaire, Daniel Friedenberg.

His gift to the library is remarkable for its size and breadth as much as for the quality and interest of the individual works. The eight hundred works on paper include two hundred rare engravings depicting biblical and historical scenes, portraits of notable Jewish figures, synagogues, and celebrations of holidays and rituals. In addition, the library has received fine examples of Judaica Americana, Holocaust-era materials, dozens of Yiddish postcards, New Year greeting cards and bookplates. Also noteworthy are the three hundred posters from museum exhibitions and political campaigns, in addition to modern artwork in the form of pastels, drawings, papercuts, and limited edition lithographs.

One document that stands out for its historical significance is a 1754 order of Maria Theresa, Queen of Hungary and Bohemia, and Archduchess of Austria. In it, she commands the Christians of Mantua to refrain from taking revenge on the Jews of the town who had poured boiling water and garbage out of their windows onto Christian children who were "singing songs." Christians are asked to appeal instead to the government with proof of the criminal acts so that justice can be carried out against the Jewish "delinquents." Jews are also reminded to behave with respect toward Christians and to refrain from assembling and marching in groups without explicit permission from the military.

Among the modern artwork, one of the most exceptional pieces is a large cloth folio containing twelve Mané-Katz lithographs, in which the artist recounts Shalom Aleichem's story, Stempiniou, using joyful color and expressive brushstrokes.

Friedenberg's gift of over eighty rare manuscripts and printed books includes numerous Passover Haggadot, such as the Sulzbach Haggadah, (Amsterdam, 1751), and the first Haggadah for the soldiers of the Israel Defense Force (Jerusalem, 1950). The collection also includes an eighteenth-century manuscript edition of Solomon Ibn Gabirol's Azharot, liturgical poems versifying the 613 biblical commandments.

Growing up in the shadow of the Holocaust, Daniel Friedenberg was affected by Nazi attempts to portray the Jewish people as inferior and subhuman. He reacted by acquiring, over six decades, an impressive body of materials which highlights the outstanding achievements Jews have contributed to art, literature, and politics.

The library will showcase a selection of these works in an upcoming exhibition.


News from the Acting Director

The Library has been actively involved over the last few months in a number of outstanding endeavors that may benefit the extensive book and art community.

This spring the library is participating in three exciting exhibitions of national importance:

1. Jefferson's America and Napoleon's France: An Exhibition for the Louisiana Purchase Bicentennial at the New Orleans Museum of Art. It will feature Napoleon Le Grand retablit le culte des Israelites les 20 Mai 1806 (Napoleon the Great re-establishing the religion of the Israelites), a print from Paris, 1806 by Francois-Louise Couche from our collection. This exhibition has received enormous publicity and is on view from April 12th -August 31st, 2003, and we are very pleased to be included in it.

2. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington is marking its 10th anniversary with an exhibition Fighting the Fires of Hate: America and the Nazi Book Burnings. Four items from the library's collection are being loaned for the exhibition including a draft of a speech written by Albert Einstein for the opening of the Brooklyn Library of Burned Books in 1934. The exhibition will run from April 30th until October 13th , 2003.

3. The Library lent 8 items to Memoria de Sefarad (Memories of Sefarad) exhibition in Toledo, Spain which took place this past fall. As a result of the huge success of the exhibition, selections from this exhibition will travel to the National Cathedral in Washington, DC and be on view from May 8 until June 8, 2003.

More than 250 digitized ketubbah images, and their cataloged descriptions, from the Zucker Family Ketubbah Collection at The Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary have been launched as part of the David and Fela Shapell Family Digitization Project at the Jewish National and University Library. The project aims to create a worldwide registry of ketubbot. You can check the project at: http://jnul.huji.ac.il/dl/ketubbot/html/collections_zucker.htm.

Digitization for this project was underwritten by Benjamin Zucker.

The library was awarded a $5,000 grant from METRO (Metropolitan New York Library Council) for 2003 to continue our retrospective conversion, the converting of our card catalog to computer file. We have completed more than 80% of the conversion and look forward to its completion.

We look forward to a very productive summer where we will focus on our vision to bring the library to the reader. Projects include expanding electronic services to students and faculty through the upgrade of our online catalog system and the launching of the library's new website with a new architecture.

Naomi M. Steinberger


Image and Impression: Rare Prints from the Collection of the Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America

The library is happy to announce its most recent exhibition catalog: "Image and Impression". This catalog represents four different exhibitions from the library's distinguished and diverse print collection: Sanctuary and Synagogue: The Experience of Portuguese and Ashkenazic Jews in Amsterdam; Visions of Glory: Engraved Portraits of Jewish Personalities 1600-1900; Eve to Esther: Images of Women in Biblical Prints; and Culture and Costume: Jewish Dress Across Five Centuries.

The 5,500 prints in the library's collection include portraits, biblical scenes, topography, customs and ceremonies, depictions of life cycle events, caricatures and costume prints. The collection documents every conceivable aspect of Jewish life and culture and represents a vibrant visual record of the Jewish people over the last five hundred years.

This is one of a series of catalogs that document the treasures of the Jewish heritage at the library. The catalog is available for sale by calling (212) 678-8962.


Vote! Election Posters for the Zionist Congress

The exhibition is scheduled to open on May 19 in the Goldsmith Gallery of the Jewish Theological Seminary. This exhibition highlights the library's collection of propaganda posters, booklets detailing various party platforms, posters containing information on polling places and ballots relating to the elections to the Zionist Congresses as they were conducted in the Mandatory-period yishuv.

The Zionist Congresses, together with the institutions that grew out of them - the Zionist Organization, the Jewish Colonial Trust, and the Jewish National Fund - played a significant role in the development of the yishuv and prepared it for political as well as administrative independence from the Mandatory power. Elections to the Congresses were hotly contested between such ideologically opposed groups as Mapai, the Revisionists, the General Zionists, and the Mizrachi faction. The present exhibition brings together some of the graphic and print ephemera generated by those contests. The exhibition will be on view from May 6 - September 3, 2003 in the Goldsmith Gallery. For further information please call (212) 678-8975.

The exhibition can be viewed Sunday through Thursday 9:30 am - 6:00 pm and Friday 9:30 - 5:00 pm. Selections from the exhibit may be viewed online.


Keren Keshet Fund Facilitates New Acquisitions

Due to the generosity of a Keren Keshet-The Rainbow Foundation-Grant, the library has been able to acquire a collection of 400 memorial books that honor the lives of fallen soldiers from Israeli Kibbutzim. This unusual collection is a unique primary source for Kibbutz life, as some of the texts date back to before Israel became a state. The content of the books includes biographies and collections of poems, songs, and drawings.

In addition, the funds have enabled the library to purchase a wide-ranging collection of Turkish Judaica which focuses on the history and culture of the Jewish community in Turkey. The collection includes histories of Jewish communities and synagogues, memorial books, burial lists and musical titles, mainly in Ladino. Most of the collection is in Turkish but some titles are in English, French, Spanish and Ladino. Samples of books of particular interest are: "History of the Jews in the Ottomon Empire", "Judaic and Israeli commentary of the Quran's commentary", and "Once upon a time Jews lived in Kirklareli".


From the Rare Book Room

With a generous grant from the Dr. Bernard Heller Foundation, the library is engaged in the complete conservation of one of its most prized possessions: the Prato Haggadah.

The history of the Prato Haggadah (Ms. 9468) is shrouded in mystery. There are large gaps in our knowledge of its whereabouts from the time that it was written in Spain around 1300, until the time of its acquisition by The Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1964.

We know that in 1928, the Haggadah was in the possession of Dr. Ludwig Pollak. Born in Prague and living in Rome, he was a distinguished collector of classical art, literary manuscripts, books, and had an interest in Judaica. Dr. Pollak promised the Haggadah to his friend, Rabbi David Prato, Chief Rabbi of Rome. Rabbi Prato, challenging the fascist authorities in Italy moved to Palestine in the late 1930's. Subsequently, Dr. Pollak, his wife and son were deported to Auschwitz together with the Jewish community of Rome, where they perished. After the war, Rabbi Prato was recalled to his earlier position, in Rome, where he passed away in 1951. His son, Jeonathan, an Israeli diplomat, was on a visit to Rome several months later that year. While there, a woman introducing herself as a sister-in-law of Dr. Pollak told him that she knew of Pollak's intention of giving the manuscript to his father, and it was her desire to follow through on the offer. Eventually, Jeonathan Prato received the Haggadah as promised and later sold it to The Library in 1964.

The Prato Haggadah is written on parchment comprising 85 folios of 8 leaves in each quire. Fols.1-53 are in a square Sephardi script , and fols. 54-68 are in a square Italo-Ashkenazi script on a different parchment and written in different ink. The decoration of the Haggadah was never completed, and there are no clues as to the reason for this.

The manuscript is beautiful and fascinating- beautiful because of its high artistic quality, and fascinating because we are privy to the process by which the volume was created. The library is very fortunate that the Metropolitan Museum of Art has agreed to perform non-destructive pigment analysis of the manuscript using sophisticated scientific equipment. Since this is the first Hebrew Spanish illuminated manuscript of this period to undergo pigment analysis, the results will be of great interest to art historians. The conservation at the library will include cleaning the surface dust and grime, taking care that the patina is not removed. Eventually, the Haggadah will be re-bound by a book conservator who specializes in early manuscript bindings.


Masthead

Library Board of Overseers

  • Beverley Baker
  • Ted Bernard-Cutler
  • Joan Brodsky
  • Marilyn Cohen
  • Suzanne Cohen
  • Leonard Florence
  • Ruth O. Freedlander
  • Dorothy Tapper Goldman
  • Howard Goldstein
  • Saul Gottlieb
  • Leslie M. Hammel
  • Ruth Hendel
  • Louise Holland
  • Rhonda Jacobs Kahn
  • Alexander Kaplen
  • Gershon Kekst
  • Harry Laufer
  • Marvin Levitties
  • Alfred Levy
  • Paula Mandell
  • Audrey Merves
  • Stanley Sanders
  • Harry Schick
  • James L. Schlesinger
  • Frances Schor
  • Judith Selwyn
  • Harris Shapiro
  • Romie Shapiro
  • Arnon Siegel
  • Beatrice Weidman
  • Carole L. Weidman
  • David Wingate
  • Philip Zaro
  • Noel E. Zeller
  • Linda Drogin Zimmerman

Contributors to this issue

  • Dorothy Tapper Goldman
  • Sharon Lieberman Mintz
  • Jay Rovner
  • Ilana Siegel
  • Sara Spiegel
  • Nellie Stavisky
  • Naomi Steinberger
  • Rickie Weiner

Newsletter Committee

  • Tzivia Atik
  • Rena Borow
  • Naomi Steinberger
  • Rickie Weiner, Editor

For information, please contact:

The Collection

The collection includes over 375,000 volumes, 25,000 rare books, 11,000 manuscripts, 13,000 reels of microfilms (primarily of Hebrew manuscripts), 750 periodicals subscriptions, 1000 video recordings, 4,000 sound recordings, 3,000 musical scores and CD-ROMs. Strengths are in rabbinics (Talmud and cognate literature), Bible and its Jewish commentaries, liturgy, and medieval and modern Hebrew literature. In addition, there are 40,000 Cairo Genizah fragments, archives of modern Jewish history, prints, photographs and illuminated documents, including the largest collection of marriage contracts in the world.