Page 122 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 39

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tion in the now defunct United States Public Law 480 Israel
acquisitions program.
The biblical and rabbinic collections, for example, were
strengthened and enriched by the gift of books by Maurice Sper-
tus of Chicago, as well as by the acquisition of the library o f the late
Rabbi M. Benjamin Sillman of St. Paul. The Spertus collection
consisted of 900 volumes of 16th-18th century editions of biblical,
rabbinic and philosophical texts. Some of these editions are from
the famed Venetian press of Daniel Bomberg. Of note is a copy of
the Babylonian Talmud consisting of volumes from the first,
second and third editions, 1519-1548. The Bomberg edition
served as a model for later printings. The tractates Avodah Zarah
and Sanhedrin of this edition are of particular importance be­
cause they were not censored and therefore contain passages
concerningjesus and the early Christians which were expurgated
from later editions. The Sillman collection, too, was particularly
rich in 16th-18th century editions of classic rabbinic texts and
traditional Bible commentaries. It also included contemporary
halakhic and hasidic works. More recently, funds for the pur­
chase of library materials from a grant by the National Endow­
ment for the Humanities to the Near Eastern and Jewish Studies
Department enabled the library to continue to expand signifi­
cantly its holdings of rabbinic literature and enrich its collections
of materials pertaining to the history and culture of the Jews
during the Second Commonwealth period.
A similar pattern of acquisitions can be discerned in the de­
velopment of the Jewish history collections. In addition to the
purchase of current publications, the library continues to receive
as gifts or acquires special collections of books, documents and
personal papers which enrich the base stock. What follow are but
a few examples of much materials.
The library has acquired a small group of Venetian Jewish
community records for the period of 1738-1792, as well as docu­
ments from the Consistoire Israelite de France, dating from the
18th to the 20th centuries. The latter items shed light on the
social, economic and religious life of the French Jewish commu­