Page 59 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 21

Basic HTML Version

a h u m
M .
a r n a
t h e
ded icat ion
of the then new library building of the
Jewish Theological Seminary of America on April 26, 1903,
Judge Mayer Sulzberger stated:
The Bodleian Library at Oxford and the British Museum are,
and perhaps will always remain, the most magnificent and complete
Hebrew book museums in the world. But it is our business on this
side of the Atlantic to hope and to work, undaunted by the mag-
nitude of others’ achievements; we should hold in view the purpose
to make our collection as nearly complete as the resources of the
world may render possible, and in so doing we should spare neither
thought nor labor nor money.
Little could Sulzberger have known that in the course of the
next half century there would be built on the soil of the United
States the greatest collection of Judaica and Hebraica ever as-
sembled under one roof in all history.
It was Sulzberger himself who gave the impetus towards this
achievement. To the already existing small but select collections
of David Cassel and Sabato Morais, he added his own magnificent
library of about seven thousand five hundred printed books,
including forty-five incunabula, and about seven hundred and
fifty Hebrew manuscripts. During his lifetime, Sulzberger con-
tinued to enrich the Seminary library through the purchase of
many rare books and large specialized collections. In 1903 he
acquired the five thousand strong Halberstamm collection that
was very rich in the field of liturgy and Judaeo-Spanish works,
and contained a large number of Hebrew and German periodicals
besides. Four years later, Sulzberger’s presentation of four
hundred and seventeen Haggadot became the nucleus of an
unrivaled collection.
The Jewish Theological Seminary Library now began to
develop by leaps and bounds. It soon out-grew its original
design of providing the essential tools of study and research for
the Seminary faculty and students. It was now to become a
veritable storehouse for the preservation against the ravages of