Page 51 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 27

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B rism an —Jew is h C o l l e c t i o n a t
store of Bamberger k Wahrmann in Jerusalem was for sale. The
owners had died, and the heirs decided to dispose of the store.
Excitedly Prof. Band dispatched a letter to the Chairman of the
Department on December 4, 1962, describing his discovery in
these terms:
“. . . This is the most important collection of Hebraica avail,
able [for sale] in the world today. . . . If we get this library,
we will immediately have one of the most impressive He­
braica collections in the world. . . . This is the library we
have been dreaming of.”
Immediately enthusiastic activity was set in motion. A letter,
signed jointly by the Chairman of the Department and the Uni­
versity Librarian, was relayed to UCLA’s Chancellor Franklin
D. Murphy, and a cable requesting a six weeks option on the
purchase of this collection was sent to Jerusalem. Soon plans
for sending the Library’s Hebraica and Judaica specialist to
examine the collection began to take shape.
Since the acquisition of such a huge collection would involve
a very large sum of money not readily available to the Library,
the Chairman of the Department and the University Librarian
proposed in their letter to the Chancellor “two possible ap­
proaches. . . . On the one hand a group of interested friends might
among themselves pledge a total o f bring this great library
to Los Angeles. Another, and possibly more exciting approach,
in fact a unique opportunity for some person, would be for one
individual to foster this effort with a single . . . gift.”3
Subsequently, the second approach proved to be the successful
one. In the interim, the Library’s specialist journeyed to Jeru­
salem to examine thoroughly the Bamberger and Wahrmann
collection and to “enter into final negotiations.” On January 15,
1963, after a lengthy examination of the collection and com­
plicated negotiations, he was able to inform his superiors that
an agreement was reached. He received approval to sign an of­
ficial contract with the owners, even though “no one here yet
knows where the money will come from. . . . We may very well
have to commit the greatest part of book funds available next
year for Hebraica, in order to meet these terms.”4
Fortunately, such an exigency was not confronted. As soon as
the report by the Hebraica specialist arrived at UCLA, a copy
was delivered to the Chancellor. He in turn showed it to a local
3From letter to Chancellor by Robert Vosper, University Librarian, and
Wolf Leslau, Professor of Hebrew and Chairman, Department of Near Eastern
and African Languages, dated December 13, 1962.
4From letter by University Librarian to Shimeon Brisman, dated January
18, 1963.