Page 210 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 50

Basic HTML Version

the Lord” in the medium of scholarly satire. Thus, among the
manuscripts in the collection is a double acrostic poem exco­
riating Reform, the first letters of the lines spelling out the name
of Isaac Mayer Wise, the last letters, that of an early lay leader,
Isaac Goldstein.
Masekhet Bikkurim min Talmud Yerushalmi
(Tractate “First
Fruits” of the Palestinian Talmud), Chicago, 1887 and 1890,
is the first printing of a section of the Talmud in America. Pub­
lished with three commentaries by Rabbi Eliezer Alperstein of
Congregation Ohabei Shalom Mariampole (Lovers of Peace of
Mariampole) in Chicago, it boasts a title page in the grand tra­
dition: a base supporting columns topped by crowned lions up ­
holding a majestic crown. The typography, in the classic style
of talmudic printing of text surrounded by commentary, com­
pares favorably with the finest European productions. Why a
second printing only three years after the first? The only change
is the Introduction. In the 1887 edition the rabbi extols the
congregation and its friendly, generous members. In the second
edition, he writes of disillusion, heartbreak and troubles. It is
good to report that his subsequent rabbinic career in New York
was more rewarding.
What began as a fascinating hobby soon turned into a lifelong
scholarly interest and later into an academic career in the field
of American Jewish historiography. What began with the joy
of finding grew to the obligation of preserving, and turned to
the task of organizing, reporting and analyzing, in the class­
room, from the lecture platform, and in print. At all times,
the greatest satisfaction was in sharing with others the items
discovered and the insights attained.
Through almost a half century, the collector’s fervor was
shared by husband and wife. Now it is our greatest satisfaction
that our gathered store will be available to all who seek it out;
and that it is a living memorial to those who infused into our
lives a passion for Judaism and Jewish learning, and an over­
arching love for the Jewish people in time and space, our dear
parents of blessed memory: Aaron and Rachel Karp, and Rabbi
Abraham and Stella Burstein.