Page 76 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 46

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
use o f the im p rov ed m ean s o f t ra n sp o r ta t io n an d set o u t to
sea rch fo r books in faraway a n d exotic coun tr ie s . T h e co n v e r t
Moses William S hap ira , la te r to a tta in n o to r ie ty as th e fo rg e r
o f “an c ien t” scrolls, trave lled to Y em en in th e 1880’s an d
b ro u g h t back h u n d r e d s o f Y em en ite MSS which h e sold to v a r ­
ious libraries. L ippa Schwager, th e p a r tn e r o f th e book se lle r
David F raenke l, trave lled ex tensively to Y em en a n d th e M idd le
East to pu rch a se m anu sc r ip ts an d books m any o f which w ere
sold to the rap id ly e x p a n d in g Jew ish T heo log ica l S em ina ry Li­
b ra ry . T h e b ib l io g rap h e r a n d a u th o r E p h ra im D e in a rd t rav ­
elled to C r im ea in th e wake o f th e K ara ite F irkovich a n d to
Palestine, Egyp t an d o th e r coun tr ie s on fo u r con t in en ts an d
r e tu r n e d with books which were la te r sold o r d o n a te d to JT S
o r the L ib ra ry o f Cong ress . O th e r b ib lioph iles an d collectors
soon followed suit. E lkan N. A d le r (1861-1946), son o f th e C h ie f
Rabbi o f E ng land , trave lled to E gyp t w he re he collected G en izah
fragm en ts , an d to Palestine an d Persia w h e re he acq u ired a
la rg e n u m b e r o f J u d a e o -P e r s ia n MSS. D av id S. S assoon
(1880-1942), an E ng lishm an d e sc en d ed from a fam ily o f I raq i
o rig in which h ad business in te re s ts in th e F a r East, a cq u ired
MSS from th e N ea r an d F a r East. Rabbi Jacob M. T o le d a n o
collected m anu sc r ip ts from his an ce s to rs ’ h om e lan d , Morocco,
as well as from his native Palestine a n d s u r ro u n d in g co un tr ie s
an d sold m any o f them to th e lib raries o f JT S a n d J e ru s a lem .
H eb rew MSS a re d isp e rsed am o n g some 500 lib ra ries , pub lic
an d priva te . Some inc lude only a single MS o r a few f ragm en ts .
Only abou t fifty lib raries own m o re th a n 100 H eb rew MSS,
an d o f these only th i r te e n a re very la rge collections n um b e r in g
m o re th an 1,000, an d ten o r eleven have fairly la rg e collections
n um b e r in g 500-1 ,000 MSS. Size can be m islead ing , how ever,
an d shou ld no t always be con s id e red th e p r im a ry fac to r w hen
eva lua ting th e im p o r tan c e o f a lib rary ; th e n um b e r o f ra re ,
u n iq u e o r an c ien t m anu sc r ip ts in a collection is o f te n fa r m o re
significant.
I t would be beyond th e scope o f this artic le to list all th e
collections o f H eb rew m anu sc r ip ts in th e w orld . We can only
h o p e to p re s e n t a very b r ie f su rvey o f th e m a jo r collections.