Page 116 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 16

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J O S H U A B L O C H
1890-1957
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HE day preceding his sudden death on Rosh ha-Shanah,
September 26, 1957, Dr. Joshua Bloch spent at the New
York Public Library. A year and a half earlier he had retired as
chief of the Jewish Division, and now he was there as a reader,
after a life-time in books, as bookbinder, bookseller, scholar,
journalist, book reviewer, rabbi, teacher, bibliographer, editor
and librarian. But Dr. Bloch was not a bookish man. As a
matter of fact, he often told me that his original interest was in
the law, and I always thought he would have made an excellent
district attorney.
He came in late that day. He had quite a few chores on his
way, among them the delivery to the editorial office across the
street of some articles for a one-volume encyclopedia. He walked
the marble corridor in his noiseless manner, with young, nimble,
short steps. His pockets were bulging and his hands were
weighted down with newspapers and packages. He signed the
register of the Jewish Division and stepped in to the office of the
Division across the corridor and emptied his pockets on my desk:
catalogs of Hebrew books from Amsterdam, London and Jeru-
salem, and all kinds of pamphlets and reprints he had received at
home and thought might be useful for the library.
He inquired about my health and asked me to put aside some
of his packages. They contained toys for his granddaughter
and magazines in Hebrew and in Yiddish for some members of
his “congregation,” the Jewish patients at Creedmoor Hospital
in Queens. Since 1922 he had served as chaplain in a number
of hospitals of the New York State Department of Mental Hy-
giene, but he had held fast to Creedmoor. There he died the
next day while preparing to deliver a sermon.
After depositing his packages in a corner of the office, Dr.
Bloch took a glance at the last volume of the
Jewish Book
Annual
which had arrived that day. It contained his tribute to
Moritz Steinschneider on the fiftieth anniversary of his death and
an evaluation of his bibliographical output. “A kluger Yid,” he
remarked, and walked across the corridor to his accustomed
seat in a secluded corner of the reading room.
He had a number of irons in the fire that day, having just sent
two articles for the English section of the
Day.
One article dealt
with the danger of Christian missionary success, unless the Jews
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