Page 19 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 47

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I finally convinced McGill that the Zunz Collection was not at
HUC bu t at the Jewish National and University Library in J e ­
rusalem and that the confusion might be traceable to the su­
perficial similarity o f names — Hebrew University and Hebrew
Union College. Furthermore , there was evidence that Elbogen
had recruited someone else to take the Zunz Collection from
Berlin to Jerusalem when that person made
which he
did in 1939, a year after Elbogen left Germany for the U.S.
What has interested me about this episode o f the heroic, u n ­
is the story he told Gotthold Weil, then director
o f the Jewish National and University Library and formerly as­
sociated with the Hochschule. The
told Weil that the in­
structions from the Hochschule were that Weil might use the
archival materials for his own scholarly research but then he
was to give them to the JNUL for its perm anen t collections.
Weil did not use them for research but did deposit them in
the JNUL and opened them to the world o f scholarship with
an article in
Kiryat Sefer5.
The re is testimony that as early as February 1984, the Jewish
Theological Seminary told Sotheby’s o f its interest in purchasing
privately the fifteenth century illuminated Prague Bible and a
fou rteen th century Catalan Machzor — the two prize lots o f
the sale. Sotheby’s declined because the consignor p re fe rred
“a public auction because it would generate a h igher sales price.”
“In late May or early Ju n e 1984 — after various Jewish groups
had begun to complain about the Ju n e 26 auction — Saul
Kagan, the Executive Secretary o f the JRSO, approached
Menahem Schmelzer, the chief librarian o f the JTS , and urged
that the JTS purchase the Bible and Machzor. Mr. Kagan told
Dr. Schmelzer that such a purchase [by a public institution]
would constitute a complete resolution o f the concerns o f the
Jewish Community regard ing the Ju n e 26 auction.”6
A few days before the auction, on Ju n e 22, 1984, the nego­
tiations for this private sale were completed, and JTS is repo rted
to have bought these two lots for $900,000, $25,000 less than
the h igher side o f the estimated prices at auction. It was very
5. Vol. 34 (1959): 231 ff.
Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law of Defendants . . .
(6/14/85), pp. 59-60.