Page 209 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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MEHLMAN/FROM A BIBLIOPHILE’S MEMOIRS
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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.
V
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