Page 9 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 46

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JACOB KABAKOFF
Introduction
F
r o m
o c t o b e r
15, 1988
t o
J
a n u a r y
4, 1989 the New York
Public Library will mount what promises to be its most elaborate
exhibition to date. To mark the 40th anniversary of the State
of Israel it will sponsor the first international exhibition to en­
compass the entire history of the Hebrew book, from ancient
times to the present, under the title “A Sign and A Witness:
2000 years of Hebrew Books and Illuminated Manuscripts.”
Under the expert guidance of Dr. Leonard Gold, Dorot Chief
Librarian of the New York Public Library’s Jewish Division, who
is serving as curator as well as editor of the exhibition volume,
there will be assembled under one roof some of the world’s
most important and beautiful works in the Hebrew language.
The books and manuscripts are being drawn not only from
the holdings of the NYPL, but also from 25 private and public
collections in America, Europe and Israel.
As indicated by Dr. Gold in his introduction to
A Sign and
the Witness,
the companion volume to the exhibition, the event
will not only focus attention on the role of the Hebrew book
in its own right, but will also point to the contributions which
the Jews have made in interacting with surrounding cultures
through the medium of the Hebrew book. It will underscore
the fact that in addition to fostering Jewish learning internally
the Hebrew book served also as a vehicle for the transmission
of culture to the world at large.
To accomplish its avowed aims, the exhibition will present
a panorama of Hebrew literary productivity arranged according
to five categories: Bible and Dead Sea Scrolls; works belonging
to the post-biblical Oral Tradition; books dealing with prayer
and celebration; works of language and literature; and writings
which endeavor to understand the world, including philosophy,
science and mysticism. Among the unique items to be on view
will be a Dead Sea Scroll, the Nahum Commentary, on loan