Page 112 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 37

Basic HTML Version

world. T h e re are manuscripts from Florence and Mantua in
Italy; Avignon and C a rpen tras in France; N o rth Africa and the
Near and Middle East. T he subjects dea lt with cover the en tire
gam u t o f religious and secular life: Bible, biblical commentaries,
Midrash, Halakhah , Responsa, Kabbalah, theology, philosophy,
history, science, poetry and communal records. Among the more
voluminous au tho rs are Abraham ibn Ezra, Averroes, Hayyim
Vital, Isaac Aboab, Isaac ben Solomon Luria, and Maimonides.
T h e collection is rich in communal records such as those fo r the
French Jewish community o f C arpen tras from the seventeenth
th rough the n ine teen th century . Among these records are fou r
volumes o f documents concerning a commission appo in ted by
the French government to distribute the King’s deb t on these
French Jews.
In add ition to the Hebrew manuscripts Columbia’s Rare Book
and Manuscript Library has acquired the papers o f a num be r o f
prom inen t American Jews. Many o f these collections were do ­
nated to the University by faculty and alumni; o the rs came from
the very active Friends o f the Libraries. A few examples will
suffice. Among the papers o f Columbia alumni are those o f the
ju r is t Benjamin N. Cardozo, the publisher Max Lincoln Schuster,
the au tho r H erm an Wouk, and those o f the economist Edwin
R.A. Seligman. Papers o f o the r individuals include those o f Lil­
lian D. Wald, social worker and p ioneer in public nu rsing service;
Abraham H. Sarasohn, a New York lawyer and son o f Kasriel H.
Sarasohn, found er o f the New York Yiddish newspaper
and the records o f the ESCO Fund Committee, founded by F rank
Cohen fo r the financial suppo r t o f cultural and educational p ro j­
ects in the United States and Israel.
Columbia’s collection o f Hebrew and Yiddish books reflects the
same traditional interests tha t the manuscript collection does:
Talmud , To rah , Midrash, Mishnah, liturgy and ritual, philoso­
phy, theology and history. It is no t primarily a collection o f texts
bu t a collection o f commentaries on texts. I t is also strong in
language and literature , with a comprehensive collection o f mod­
ern Yiddish literature. About 37,000 titles are housed in the
General Library, the Lehman Library and the Rare Book and
Manuscript Library.
Curren tly Columbia continues to acquire Hebrew and Yiddish
titles at the rate o f 750-1,000 volumes a year. T he Library a t­
tempts to acquire for the General Library all Israeli books dealing