Page 131 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 35

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JAJKO / THE JUDAICA COLLECTIONS OF YALE
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and Samuel Merlin. Merlin’s file is notably affecting, in tha t it
includes souvenirs—invitations, passes, badges of the guard of
honor—of the memorial rites, in Israel, for Jabotinsky.
RARE BOOK HOLD INGS
The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library houses most
of Yale’s rare Judaica. Among its rich collections are some forty-
three Judaic incunabula, some in multiple copies, and more than
one hundred and fifty Hebrew and Judaeo-Arabic manuscripts.
Among the manuscripts are to be found Karaite prayers, Sephardic
liturgies, and
ke tubo t
and other legal documents. Beinecke also
has the Sholem Asch collection, letters, prin ted books, and auto­
graph manuscripts of Asch’s works. A current project in Beinecke
is the cataloguing of the papers of Ezra Stiles, president of Yale
from 1778 to 1795. Stiles was a student of Hebrew, corresponding
in tha t language with Jewish scholars. Interspersed among his
notations on contemporary events of the Revolutionary War are
brief disquisitions in Hebrew on the Bible, Cabala, Jewish his­
tory, and, of course, on Jesus Christ as the Messiah.
The University Library is faced with the same problem which
confronts all other research libraries: materials which are not
worn out by eager readers—or wantonly destroyed by the careless
or predatory—are nevertheless destroyed by nature. The tem­
perature extremes and dampness of the Connecticut shore com­
bine with human pollution to exert a deadly grip on fragile
paper and ink. Since much of the Judaica Collection consists
of materials prin ted in nineteenth and early twentieth century
Europe and America, much of it is disintegrating
in situ.
But
Yale, I am happy to say, has chosen not to allow valuable and
often unique materials to disappear. A systematic preservation
program was instituted several years ago. T he Judaica Collection
receives the same careful attention as other parts of the library
—more, perhaps, than some, because of the relatively high con­
centration of use of the collection. As Judaica in poor condition
are brought to the attention of the head of the Preservation
office, she consults with the Near East Bibliographer on their
possible replacement, having first thoroughly searched for other
copies or editions at Yale and for available reprints. Materials
are replaced, filmed, xerocopied, or, in very rare cases, discarded