Page 59 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 22

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D i e n s t a g — G o t t e sm a n L i b r a r y o f Y e s h iv a U n i v e r s i t y
53
in 1947. Born in Taurage, Lithuania, Rabbi Epstein was presi­
dent of the Union of Rabbis of Latvia, and came to the United
States in 1923. He was at the time of his death chief rabbi of
the United Jewish Orthodox Community of St. Louis, Missouri,
and author of two volumes of responsa,
Teshubah Shelemah
and
Midrash ha-Hayyim.
In 1952 the Library acquired the collection of Professor Chaim
Tchernowitz (1871-1949), known under the pseudonym of Rav
Tzair (“Young Rabbi”). He became professor of Talmud at the
Jewish Institute of Religion in New York in 1923 and was widely
known for his
History of Hebrew Law
and
History of the Jewish
Codes.
He was also founder and editor of the Hebrew monthly
Bitzaron.
The keystone of his collection is modern Talmudic
scholarship.
The Library has been the beneficiary of the collections of
several members of the faculty of Yeshiva University. Among
them were Nathan Klotz, professor of Bible, and Jacob Bachur-
sky, Hebrew educator in pre-war Poland and library assistant
from 1931 to 1958. Both collections are rich in Biblical exegesis
and Hebrew philology. The last faculty collection acquired by
the Library is that of the late Talmudist and leader of the
Mizrachi, Rabbi Aaron Burack (1892-1960).
I t is with a sense of profound grief that I record the acquisi­
tion of some of the books recovered in Europe after the holo­
caust, whose original owners perished at the hands of the Ger­
man barbarians. The task of distributing the precious books of
Europe’s Jewish martyrs was entrusted to the Jewish Cultural
Reconstruction, Inc. Leading centers of Jewish learning through­
out the world fell heir to the cultural heritage of Europe's Six
Million. The Mendel Gottesman Library was the recipient of
close to 10,000 volumes. Of special interest is the collection
assembled by the Nazi leaders for the Institute to Study the
Jewish Problem. Many of the volumes in this collection bear
annotated labels describing the books. They were typed on the
discarded stationery of the anti-Semitic newspaper
Stuermer,
probably by the “scholarly” inmates of the concentration camps.
Many of the volumes bear a 1939 imprint date of various Hebrew
publishing houses in Eastern and Central Europe; many of these
books never reached the Jewish communities outside these areas.
May we not ask with the prophet, “Is not this a brand plucked
from the fire?”
The library was fortunate indeed to acquire the Yiddish col­
lection of Morris Odoner (1868-1957). Born in Warsaw, he
arrived in America in 1916 where he found employment as an
upholsterer. At a great personal sacrifice he built up one of the
greatest private Yiddish collections in America.