Page 198 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
for me an occasion for celebration. My youthful exuberance
enabled me to disregard all difficulties and obstacles. Although I
did not entirely overlook Socialist theory and European litera­
ture, my library at this time was completely transformed, for
Judaica became its main focus. For some twenty years I toiled dili­
gently and unceasingly in Vienna, Lithuania and Israel in order
to carry out my ambitious plan. Today I still wonder how I
mustered the time and energy, for during that entire period I was
active as an educator and directed large educational institutions.
When I settled in Palestine in 1935 I brought with me eleven
and a half large crates o f books, and half a crate o f clothes and
linens. The latter, however, were stolen en route, apparently in
the port o f Jaffe. During World War II, when I reached the age
o f forty, a sharp change came to be seen in the character o f my
collecting. Book collecting became an obsession and I relied more
on intuition than on sober judgment. Books began to work their
magic upon me and they attracted me with a power that I was
unable to resist. I soon graduated from the love o f books to a
mania for books. I was enticed by odd books, that were unique in
form or content. I was drawn to books printed on parchment, on
silk, and even on cardboard, to editions printed on red paper or
with red ink or golden characters. I became enamored with bro­
chures and broadsides that had to do with polemics and satire,
with posters and occasional poems. I pursued printed items that
were very rare and that had come down in few copies. Whenever
I obtained a brochure that was unknown to scholars it was a spe­
cial occasion for me. In the course o f time I discovered that my
intuition had not misled me, and that those old books and bro­
chures were o f historical, literary or bibliophilic value. Gradually
scholars and bibliophiles began to show an interest in my collec­
tion and to make use o f it.
Meanwhile my library grew rapidly and so expanded as to give
me concern. As long as a private library contains between two and
three thousand items its owner has control over it. When it
exceeds this number it begins to control him. Some thirteen years
ago I learned that my house contained about 35,000 items,
consisting o f books, booklets, pamphlets and brochures.
When the news about my extensive library became known
various cultural institutions and individuals sought to acquire it.
The leading contenders were the Jewish National and University
Library in Jerusalem and the Tel-Aviv University. I was in a