Page 209 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 50

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KARP / T H E KARP CO LLEC T ION OF AMERICAN JUDA ICA
201
Keller’s chromolithograph map of the Holy Land, biblical and
contemporary, depicting the division of the land among the
twelve tribes, and recording the venue of twenty-two modern
Jewish colonies. Issued as a New Year fold-up greeting card
for the year 5677 (1917) by the Hebrew Publishing Company
of New York, it has the map on one side and photographs of
Zionist leaders and scenes in the settlements on the other.
THREE PIONEER HEBREW BOOKS
We conclude as we began, with a description of three pioneer
Hebrew books printed in America.
1. The colophon of
Avnei Yehoshua
by Joshua Falk, New York,
1860, reads:
I give thanks that it was my good fortune to be the typesetter
o f this scholarly book, the first o f its kind in America. Blessed
be the God o f Israel who surely will not deny us the Redeemer.
This commentary on
Pirke Avot
(The Ethics of the Fathers)
is the first book written in Hebrew to be published in America
other than the Bible and prayerbooks. Its author, born in Po­
land in 1799, arrived in America in 1858, served briefly as a
rabbinic functionary in Newburgh and Poughkeepsie, New
York, and became an itinerant preacher. He died in the year
of the book’s publication, while on a visit to his daughter in
Keokuk, Iowa. Our copy, complete and in its original binding,
contains a seven-line presentation in Hebrew in the author’s
hand. It is the only known example of his writing to have sur­
vived.
2. The second Hebrew book printed in America,
Emek Re-
phaim
(Valley of the Dead), New York, 1865, is far more in­
teresting than the first. It was certainly written wholly in Amer­
ica, for its content is an attack against American Reform J u ­
daism, particularly Rabbis Isaac Mayer Wise, Max Lilienthal,
and Samuel Adler. The author, the New York scribe M.E.
Holtzman, inveighs against those who call themselves “Reverend
Doctors.” The book’s title with but a slight vowel change can
be read to mean “Valley of the Doctors” — the pun implying
spiritually dead doctors. This little twenty-eight page work is
full of biblical allusions, puns, irony and word-play, a virtuoso
performance which encouraged others to wage their “battle for