Page 51 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 23

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Americana, history and social studies, Kabbalistic and Hasidic
works, works by Christian hebraists, rabbinic responsa, Hebrew
and Yiddish literature, periodicals and newspapers.
The Library's Potential for Jewish Studies
The range of the Library’s potential for Jewish studies is not
to be measured solely by the collections in the Jewish Division.
Many books on Jewish topics are housed in the various other
divisions. Fifteenth and sixteenth century books, if not written
in Hebrew characters, will be found in the Rare Book Division,
e.g. early Greek and Latin texts of Josephus and Philo, Abraham
Zacuto’s astronomical works, and studies of the Hebrew language
and the Kabbalah by Johannes Reuchlin. The Spencer Collec-
tion includes a magnificent codex of the Hebrew Bible written
in 1294 by Joseph of Xanten in Neuss in the Rhineland, and of
great importance for the establishment of the Masora (tradition-
al text) and a number of illuminated scrolls of the Book of
Esther. An important Hebrew Samaritan codex of the Five
Books of Moses written in 1231-32 is included in the Manuscript
Division’s fine collection.
Some special divisions enjoy prerogatives overriding the claim
of the Jewish Division. Thus Jewish music is chiefly found in
the Music Division; the official map of Israel in the Map Divi-
sion, etc. Works in a general series often are kept together and
may include books of Jewish interest. However, the catalogue
of the Jewish Division lists these books.
The Jewish Division also has a modest collection of Hebrew
manuscripts and a number of manuscripts in Yiddish. These
include plays by Solomon Ettinger, Benedict Ben-Zion, Simon
Beckerman and Jacob Terr. The Boris Thomashefsky Collection
has about 300 plays and prompt books by Thomashefsky, Leon
Kobrin, Joseph Lateiner, Osip Dymov and others.
The study of Jewish history can only be undertaken within the
framework of general history. This applies to a dissertation on
the foreign policy of King Hezekiah as well as to the economic
life of medieval Jewries; to the social life of the small town of
Eastern Europe or the East End of London. The availability of
the comprehensive record of human endeavor found in the many
divisions of the New York Public Library makes such studies
possible. The task of expanding, maintaining* and preserving the
collection requires continuous and often rigorous activity. Acqui-
sition, of course, includes the regular procurement of current
publications through purchase and gifts. In addition, in order
to fill gaps, one has to go hunting in antiquarian bookstores,