Page 209 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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Regrettably, I was able only to gain a quick impression o f it. I
refer to the scholarly library o f the late Professor Nehemia
Allony, which contains valuable manuscripts and also rare books.
Our present era as well is not without its encouraging signs.
There are among us outstanding bibliophiles whose libraries
excite the imagination. O f special value and quality is the library
o f Professor Meir Benayahu, which is replete with rare books and
important manuscripts. Special note should be taken o f his rich
collection o f Oriental editions. The beautiful bindings which are
often o f artistic value add to the charm o f this library. Benayahu’s
love o f the book and his devotion to booklore have helped create
one o f the finest libraries in the Jewish world.
The library o f Professor Gedaliah Elkoshi is a highly special­
ized one. Elkoshi has collected especially Hebrew periodicals
beginning with the Meassefim and down to our day, as well as
scholarly works and many books o f the Haskalah period. It
should be noted that the items have all been carefully chosen.
They are complete and without lacunae.
There are in Israel a number o f other collectors o f good taste
and bibliophilic sense who have built fine and varied libraries
whose contents are not limited merely to Judaica. Such are the
collections o f Dr. B. Wasserman inJerusalem and M.H. Morgen-
stern in Tel-Aviv. These libraries attest that their owners are
intellectuals who are open to the broad currents o f human cul­
ture. To my regret, however, such collections are becoming all
the more rare, particularly in Israel.
In our country bibliophiles have not established strong bonds
o f collegiality. I often feel the need for suchjoint effort. At times I
recall the letter o f an Italian bibliophile which I once read. I have
forgotten its details but it impressed me deeply. At the close o f the
Renaissance a poet-bibliophile wrote as follows to the wealthy and
enlightened King o f Naples: “ I have the opportunity to acquire
an old beautiful parchment manuscript o f inestimable literary
value. I desire this manuscript, but am unable to obtain it since
the bookseller asks a price that could purchase a castle.” The
poet’s request was: “ I beg you my King, to loan me the necessary
sum and I am ready to sell my property in order to repay you.”
The letter concluded with this question: “My King, who in your