Page 16 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 2

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current conditions, integral elements of their cultural programs. The biographical
outlines and sketches syndicated by the Jewish Book Council, have also been
reprinted in house publications.
Particularly noteworthy has been the series of exhibits and commemorative
exercises which Congregation Ahavath Israel of Liberty, New York, has
been conducting around the anniversaries of distinguished leaders of the
spirit. The latest of these was held in March, 1943. It was devoted to the
75th Yahrzeit of Shlomo Yehuda Loeb Rapoport. The program which may
well serve as a standard for other synagogues, consisted of a sermon by Rabbi
Israel Lebendiger on the significance of Rapoport’s achievements for modern
Judaism, followed by a discussion of the conditions in World Jewry prevalent
in his day as viewed in the light of comparable elements in the contemporary
situation. This rendered the story of Rapoport’s life and contributions of
immediate interest to the persons who visited the exhibit of his works and the
original periodicals in which they were published, which the congregation
arranged. Many of the items on display including a portrait of Rapoport
painted in 1841 by Porgess and presented to him by the
Cultusforstand
of the
Jewish Community of Prague, were borrowed from the rich collection of
Hebraica and Judaica in the library of Dr. Louis Launer, a local physician
and scholar, who led the discussion and read striking excerpts from Rapoport’s
writings.
7.
Jewish Book Discussions at Forums and Assemblies
A recommended practice which is becoming widespread has been to feature
book programs at the periodic forums and assemblies of synagogues, Centers,
religious schools and teachers’ institutes which occur during Jewish Book Month
and Week.
Pertinent examples among the reports on 1942 observances are: the YM -
YWHA of Philadelphia, which devoted its weekly Forum of Jewish Affairs to
a Jewish Book Week program conducted jointly with the local Jewish Youth
Community and the Jewish Publication Society of America. Jewish books
were exhibited in the lobby throughout the week, and two book talks on
unusual themes were delivered, Dr. William Fineshriber discussing “Demo-
cratic Values in Jewish Literature” and Dr. Solomon Grayzel directing the
attention of the audience to “Books Famous in Jewish History.”
In Chicago, the Assembly of students of various departments of the College
of Jewish Studies was converted into a Jewish book celebration, the main
feature of which was an illustrated lecture on “The Romance of the Jewish
Book,” by Dr. Fritz Bamberger. An accompanying exhibit included history
of the Jews of Chicago, Hebrew poetry and early Hebrew printing presses.
A second program sponsored jointly by the Jewish Peoples’ Institute, Hebrew
Theological College and the public library featured addresses by Dr. Meyer
Waxman, Rabbi Felix A. Levy and Rabbi S. Felix Mendelsohn. Students and
faculty members of local divinity schools visited the exhibit of rare books and
original manuscripts which were on display at the Institute throughout the
week.
Each evening a different scholar was present to explain the significance of
the material on view.
In Port Chester two exhibits were arranged in the Jewish Center and Public
Library and a series of book talks at the Friday evening services, as well as
at meetings of various organizations held during Jewish Book Week. Some of
the themes were: “If Books Could Talk” (Sabbath services), “Jewish Books
for the Child” (Parent-Teachers’ Association), “The American Jew — A
Composite Portrait” (Hadassah), “The Romance of Zionist Literature”
(Junior Hadassah). Jewish book programs were also conducted by the local
branch of the Council of Jewish Women, the Ladies Aid Society, the Hebrew
and Sunday Schools and the Club Department of the Center. A culminating
community-wide function climaxed the celebration at which Mrs. Edward
Epstein was the principal speaker and the Center’s circulating library was
dedicated. The local library augmented its Jewish collection in response
to a marked increase of interest in Jewish books.
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