Page 206 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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194
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
I turn now from booksellers to the bibliophiles who are no
longer with us and with whom I was personally acquainted. I was
deeply impressed by two such individuals who differed in back­
ground, character and position. I had the privilege o f meeting
Salman Schocken, a collector o f vision and imagination who was a
singular man o f initiative and executive ability. His conversation
and conduct attested to a developed bibliophilic sense and a love
o f the rare book. He was aided by the late A.M. Habermann, who
with deep knowledge and devotion helped him amass a rich
library, which is among the most beautiful and valuable in the
world. The Schocken Library has long outgrown its function as a
private collection and today fulfills an important role in fostering
research and learning.
A collector o f another stamp and type was Yosef Gershon
Horovitz, the rabbi o f Meah Shearim. He was a proficient scholar,
possessed o f fine qualities and a humble nature. He had a great
love o f Jews, and o f people generally; his tolerance in matters o f
opinion and belief was truly remarkable. As a collector, he was
distinguished by wide knowledge and good taste. O f limited
financial means, he would purchase also many incomplete books,
earning him the title, “ King o f the Genizot.” His library was rich
and varied: it consisted in the main o f halakhic works and
responsa, but also contained other categories like biblical com­
mentaries and historical works, and even some Haskalah books
which were kept out o f sight. Here and there were valuable rare
books, bibliophic “gems” like the first edition o f
Ha-Tsion,
1549,
copies o f which had been practically all destroyed by fire. I spent
many hours in his company, and I felt great admiration for this
remarkable Jew.
An exceptional specialized library was built by the late Profes­
sor Gershon Scholem. He was aided by an unusual bibliophilic
sense, by wide technical knowledge and planned systematic work.
His collection contains practically all the works o f Kabbalah and
Hasidism in both rare and new editions, the scholarly literature
on these subjects, as well as the polemical writings concerning
them. This library has become a valuable and unique cultural
institution which has seldom been matched. After Scholem’s
death it was transferred to the Jewish National and University
Library.
IV