Page 166 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 45

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ROBERT SINGERMAN
Jewish Americana in American
Libraries: an Overview
A
LITTLE NOTICED DEVELOPMENT IN RECENT YEARS
has been the
growing amount of rare printed American Judaica appearing at
auction. It is widely known that investors and institutions com­
pete for ritual art, illuminated manuscripts and printed
Hebraica, as in the famous David Solomon Sassoon collection
consigned to Sotheby’s, and these much sought after treasures
can realize astounding prices compared with values ofjust a dec­
ade ago.1 Following in the shadows of these glamorous, well-
publicized rarities is the budding interest in rare Jewish Ameri­
cana as seen in Sotheby’s auction of June 26, 1985, a sale high­
lighted by several exceedingly scarce printed constitutions of syn­
agogues no more than a few pages in length, or Swann Galleries’
sale no. 1284 held February 3, 1983.
A parallel trend can be also discerned in today’s shifting
research interests. While most contemporary scholarship will
predictably continue to focus on varied aspects of Jewish life in
twentieth-century America, one can point nonetheless to a mod­
est increase in books and articles on the Jewish experience
spanning the colonial period and the close of the nineteenth-
century by noted scholars such as Jacob Marcus, Jonathan Sarna,
Ira Rosenwaike, and Leo Hershkowitz. Furthermore, a Center
for the Study of the American Jewish Experience has now been
established on the Cincinnati campus of the Hebrew Union
College—Jewish Institute of Religion to advance scholarly
research activity in the field. This article offers an overview of the
Jewish Americana held by selected libraries in the United States
1 Steve Lipman, “Judaica Auctions,”
TheJewish Week
(New York), Nov. 22,1985,
pp. 4, 49.
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