Page 108 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 47

Basic HTML Version

100
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
And the vice chancellor of a major university said in his letter:
Simply put, my visit was a highlight o f my Jewish experience
over a lifetime. I will long treasure being in the presence o f a
leaf from the Aleppo codex, a sheet with handwriting o f the
Rambam, fabulous illustrated manuscripts (whose existence I cer­
tainly believed was contrary to the Rabbinic tradition), micro­
graphy as an element in design, a primer from the Cairo Geniza
(teaching reading as I was taught in the Bronx by a Chassidic
melamed), and so on and on.
Thank you for the many years it took to put together “A Sign
and a Witness.”
This, then, was an exhibition that spoke to many in a very
personal way. In it specific Jewish communities, as well as Jews
on the whole, felt they had a special interest. It was the ex­
hibition of the donors, especially Edith and Henry Everett, who
generously provided the major share of the funding. It was
the exhibition of the many lenders of material. Within The Li­
brary, a broad spectrum of individuals of many backgrounds,
as well as entire units, undertook aspects of the planning and
execution. This involved design and conservation and installa­
tion, grant applications and transportation and insurance ar­
rangements, security, design and editing of the companion vol­
ume, organizing the five lectures sponsored by the Everetts in
the Central Research Library and programming in the Branch­
es, preparing the docents, planning and conducting group tours
and receptions, and it even required that certain people with
special language skills be on hand at inconvenient times to assist
with overseas telephone calls. Not least of all, my colleagues
in the Jewish Division had to keep things going at their normal
level of excellence with only minimal assistance from me. At
all times I had the sense that each individual felt personal re­
sponsibility for the success of the whole undertaking. This was
The New York Public Library at its finest. The collectivity of
effort, of responsibility, of pride, finally led one to the point
where it was possible to imagine a special merging of bound­
aries, that the viewers, finally, became one with the objects dis­
played.