Page 387 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 25

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— C
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To make available books of Jewish interest for promoting
reciprocal inter-faith understanding and cooperation.
The Council has aggressively pursued these aims for a quarter
century through a number of projects recognized as vital contri-
butions to the cultural pattern of American Jewish life.
Even prior to the Council’s organization, its predecessor, the
National Committee for Jewish Book Week, had embarked on
a program with similar objectives.
National Committee for Jewish Book Week
Jewish Book Week began with a modest Judaica exhibit ar-
ranged by Miss Fanny Goldstein in the West End Branch of the
Boston Public Library during Hanukkah of 1925, and it grew
over the years into a national American Jewish festival. When
Miss Goldstein repeated the experiment of Jewish Book Week
the following year, the Boston
Jewish Advocate
commented: “To
this librarian falls the credit of having been the first to inaugurate
such a plan and the Jewish community of Boston in general as
well as the West End in particular owes Miss Goldstein a genuine
debt of gratitude not only for the splendid exhibition at her
library but also for her tireless efforts in compiling a list of sev-
eral hundred books . .
In 1927 Rabbi S. Felix Mendelsohn issued a call for a wider
observance of Jewish Book Week. In an article which appeared
in the Chicago
Jewish Sentinel,
April 1, 1927, he wrote: “The
Protestant churches of America have a certain week in the year
which is known as Religious Book Week. We believe that we
can well follow their example and observe a Jewish Book Week.
Let the rabbis of America devote their sermons on the Sabbath
to point out the historic role of the book in Judaism and urge
the people to continue to buy and read good Jewish books. We
sincerely hope that our suggestion will appeal to the rabbinate
of the country."
Thus Rabbi Mendelsohn became the originator of Jewish Book
Week on a national scale. He also proposed that it be scheduled
to coincide with Lag ba-Omer, the traditional scholars’ festival
and this suggestion was readily accepted by Miss Goldstein. In
1940 the period for observing Jewish Book Week was transferred
to Hanukkah, with the possibility of encouraging the giving of
books as Hanukkah gifts. In 1943, to afford organizations greater
latitude in planning events, the time for this special dedication
to Jewish books was extended from a week to a month, with the
last seven days as Jewish Book Week. Now Jewish Book Month
is scheduled by the following formula: the
day of the Month