Page 53 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

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Herbert C. Zafren, Chair (Hebrew Union College-Jewish Insti­
tute of Religion); Menahem Schmelzer, First Vice-Chair (Jewish
Theological Seminary of America); Albert Friedlander, Second
Vice-Chair (Leo Baeck College); Pearl Berger, Third Vice-Chair
(Yeshiva University); Dov Friedlander, Secretary (Jewish National
and University Library); Fred Grubel, Treasurer (Leo Baeck Insti­
It happens that I was in Israel when the first meeting convened,
so I was elected Chair in my absence. On my return, I wrote to the
other trustees, thanked them for the honor they accorded me in
naming me the first chair, and reacted to some of the matters re­
corded in the minutes. I picked up on the words spoken by one of
the trustees that “the Corporation was a consequence of an event—
an auction—that occurred two years ago” and I wrote, “While this
is correct, it is, in my view, an incomplete statement. The whole
history of how the books and manuscripts came out of Germany;
where they came from; how the auction and the results of the auc­
tion were contested and by whom; how the Conservancy Founda­
tion was proposed by whom and why—these are all very relevant
matters that should help us in our understanding of the purposes
and the symbolism of the Judaica Conservancy Foundation and its
activities.” I could not participate in, and lead, the Foundation
without maintaining a ready awareness of the many factors, before
and after the auction, that seemed to me to be essential to its back­
ground; and I cannot report on the actions and activities of the
Foundation here without providing what I consider to be basic
The auction at Sotheby’s onJune 26, 1984, entitled “Highly Im­
portant Hebrew Printed Books and Manuscripts,” engendered
very strong reactions, both before it took place and after, and led
to unexpected revelations, to bitter accusations of various kinds,
and almost to what would have been a very dramatic and traumatic
court case. As will become clear, Hebrew Union College was in­
The Guttmann Affair