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December 9, 2016 / 9 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘books’

‘Holy Trash’ Exhibition Turns Lost Synagogue Books into Stone [video]

Friday, October 28th, 2016

“Holy Trash: My Genizah” is a new project by fine arts and performance artist Rachel Libeskind created especially for the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS) exhibition space in the great hall of the Center for Jewish History.

According to Solomon Schechter, Genizah is “the storeroom or depository in a synagogue a cemetery in which worn-out and heretical or disgraced Hebrew books or papers are placed. In medieval times…their sanctity and consequent claim to preservation were held to depend on their containing the “names” of God.” What’s between the Genizah and today’s Jewish archive?

My Genizah presents a contemporary interpretation of the traditional Genizah. Crafted with texts and objects formerly belonging to the AJHS collections, My Genizah is a hard-edge, personal commentary on the making of the Jewish archive from the documents of the Genizah, and on today’s archival procedures of sorting, cataloguing, and organizing history.

“I think it’s interesting to look at the inventory of things that make up our lives,” Libeskind News1 NY. “Some of them are holy, and some of them are definitely not holy, and we just think of them as trash, and some we’re just not comfortable throwing away. It’s kind of an endless idea.” said.

On view through December 1, 2016.

Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011, Tel: 212-294-6160

Visitor information.

JNi.Media

150,000 Jewish Books In 50 Languages: An Interview with Bibliophile Israel Mizrahi

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

For some, he evokes a bygone age – when sefarim store owners lived and breathed books and could direct customers to (and discuss) a rare Yiddish work just as easily as the latest ArtScroll title.

Israel Mizrahi, though, is a young man of 29. And, unlike sefarim store owners of yore, he earns half his profits online where patrons can view and buy any one of 36,000 volumes, ranging in price from $2.99 to $3,299.99. (He carries a total of 150,000 works in his Flatbush store.)

The scion of several rabbinic families – he is named after the Baba Sali, his grandfather’s uncle – Mizrahi lives with his wife and three children in Brooklyn.

 

The Jewish Press: What’s your background?

Mizrahi: I grew up locally in Brooklyn, went to community schools, learned in yeshiva in Chevron for three years, and got married while I was in Israel. Six days later, I was back in the United States and soon found myself with some bills to pay. I owned a lot of books, so I sold a few. But it’s always easier to buy than to sell and before I knew it I had 20,000 books. So I was stuck.

Can you talk a bit about your rabbinic family background?

My mother is part of the Abuhatzeira family, so that sort of speaks for itself, and my father comes from rabbinic families in Syria and Yerushalayim.

It’s a bit of a conflicting background in the sense that my mother’s side was more of the kabbalistic, pious type and my father’s side was more of the rationalist, Maimonidean type. My great great-grandfather, for example, wrote a classic book called Kenesiya L’shem Shamayim, which is a treatise against belief in superstition, magic, sheidim – things like that. Jews in Syria at the time were following Muslim practices and basically makrivim to avoda zara, so the book is a very strong attack against any such beliefs.

Your store carries books in how many languages, would you say?

Probably around 50, but I try to focus on about 10 of them: Hebrew, English, Yiddish, German, French, Spanish, Russian, Ladino, and Judeo-Arabic.

I also have a very large collection of books in Judeo-Marathi, which is the language of the Bnei Israel community in India; I have quite a few books in Judeo-Persian; and I even have a book in Judeo-Tatar, which is the language the Jews of Crimea spoke.

What are some of the most interesting books you’ve sold over the years?

Books that interest me the most are ones that tell a story. So, for example, I have an old selichos volume printed in Germany in which somebody handwrote a very long kinah about a pogrom that happened in Poland in the 1620s. He describes in detail how the children were killed, the women raped, etc. If you look in the history books, though, there’s no record of this specific pogrom. The only source we have for it is this sefer, which happened to survive and end up in my hands.

You apparently used to also carry the Koran in Hebrew.

Israeli President Rivlin’s grandfather did the first translation. There are seven of them in total. You also have a fellow, Professor Abraham Katsch, who did a translation. He was a grandson of the Maskil L’Eitan, and his father was Rav Reuven Katz, the rav of Petach Tikva. They both came from rabbinic backgrounds and ended up professors.

What other interesting books do you carry?

When you acquire 100,000 books a year, everything shows up eventually. I just acquired an old yearbook from the Rabbi Jacob Joseph School and found among the students a smiling Sheldon Silver.

Elliot Resnick

Obama’s Cultural Rape

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Rape is an ugly word, an even uglier deed. I don’t use the word lightly or easily. Rape is a crime of violence, not passion; of destruction. The intent is to take the soul, destroy the body. It is an injustice beyond measure, a violation of humanity. No, I’ve never been raped but I know women who have been.

When someone uses the word “holocaust” – even without the capital letter, it bothers me because too often it is thrown around easily and rather than elevate the crime, it diminishes, just a bit, the Holocaust. I think rape is the same way – people use the word so freely, it takes away from when a real rape is inflicted on a person.

And yet…and yet, I’m going to use it here because it is the only word I can think of that applies, and the man ultimately responsible for this rape, this cultural rape – is Barack Hussein Obama – and yes, I’m using his middle name because he felt fine using it in Cairo and other places. And perhaps, just a little, that middle name plays a role in what he is about to do.

The full story, credit for it, comes from and goes to Caroline Glick in her article in the Jerusalem Post, “Our World: A miracle and an Outrage.” The gist of it is – by some miracle, 2,500 years of heritage, of holy books and more survived the devastation and the almost entire complete exile of the Iraqi Jewish community. Saddam Hussein (yeah, there’s that name again), stole over 2,700 Jewish books and writings from the Jewish community. He stored them in some basement to rot and by some miracle, invading US troops found the waterlogged remains.

Amazingly enough, the troops and leaders realized the magnitude of what they had found and the collection was taken to the States, refurbished, renewed, reclaimed at a cost of $3 million dollars. I don’t know how, but I’m willing to raise the money to pay the Americans back for this kindness.

But…here comes the outrage about which Caroline Glick wrote. The American government proudly put their accomplishment on display. Good for them. The exhibition at the National Archives runs through January – that is the scheduled date of the cultural rape about to take place. On or around that time, Obama and the State Department feel it is their responsibility to return the archive to its rightful owners. And I commend them for this decision as much as I condemn them for being too stupid to know who those rightful owners are. No, Mr. President

I believe that the Israeli Ambassador to the United States should request an immediate meeting with the United States President. I believe our Prime Minister must, in no uncertain terms, make it clear that the owners of the archives are the Iraqi Jews – who live primarily in Israel and that to send the archives, these holy books, “back” to Iraq is tantamount to destroying them. Obama might as well blow them up in Washington for all that sending them back to Baghdad will accomplish.

It is hard to believe that caring human beings would not do all in their power to stop a rape they know is about to take place – well, here’s our chance. We know where, we know when – now it is up to each of us to stop it.

Obama – what do you want to stop this travesty? Do you want 3 million dollars? We will raise it. You want a request from the Iraqi Jewish community – I’ll see to it. You want the Israeli government to request it – Bibi, please, do this before it is too late.

Just was what was stolen by the Nazis has long been recognized as belonging to the victims of the Holocaust, the archives belong to the Jews from whom Saddam Hussein stole them. They are not, and never were, the legacy of Iraq – rather, they are the legacy of a small community that was all but hounded into exile, only to re-establish themselves in Israel.

The archives should be donated to the community here in Israel, to a museum they established as a true legacy to what was once a thriving Jewish community. These holy books never belonged to the Iraqi government, Saddam Hussein, or the greater Iraqi people. To deny the rightful owners, to turn these books over to the Iraqis is an abomination, a cultural rape of 2,500 years.

Please help – write to Washington and demand that the archive be given to their rightful owners, the Iraqi JEWISH community, largely represented in Israel and no where else.

Please write to your Congress representatives and ask them to add their voices against this injustice.

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

Paula Stern

Holland Hebrew Bookstore Ex-Owners Move to Israel, Close Up Shop

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

One of Western Europe’s largest Hebrew bookstores has closed down in Amsterdam as its former owners prepare to move to Israel.

The Samech bookstore has been supplying Hebrew-language books to members of Holland’s Jewish community for nearly 40 years and possessed a stock of 100,000 books, according to the website of the Dutch Israelite Religious Community, or NIK.

The store, which used to be the largest of its kind in the Netherlands, belonged to Daan and Shulamit Daniel, who are planning to move to Israel. All their children had already moved out of the Netherlands in favor of “places with richer Jewish lives than Amsterdam,” according to NIK.

The store’s entire stock was sold or given away last month, the report by NIK said. Holland has a Jewish population of 41,000 -45,000, the European Jewish Congress reported.

JTA

Haredi Censorship of Torah

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

The best database of seforim (books written about Torah topics are called seforim even though the word just means books, it has connotations of holiness and importance) is Otzar HaHochma. The Otzar has every sefer you could possibly need. They have 47,350 books in the their database. Each of them is searchable so you can really find anything that’s been written about anything.

Searching is free but reading and printing cost money. Full, unlimited access costs a lot of money. (If you’d like to sponsor a subscription for me, I’ll graciously accept.)

There are several tiers of Otzar subscriptions. Here is the current pricelist:

The Complete Otzar HaHochma – 47,350 books Cost: $1,890

Thousands of books covering all topics in Torah, Judaism, Mishnah and commentary, Babylonian Talmud and commentary, Jerusalem Talmud and commentary, Responsa, Shulchan Aruch and commentary, Torah files, Tanach and commentary, Chazal, Kabbalah, Jewish philosophy and ethics, Hassidism, Drushim, Jewish holidays, Jewish history, prayers and hymns and many others.

Bnei Torah Edition – 45,150 books Cost: $1,685

Identical to the complete Otzar HaHochma but contains 1,200 fewer books. Certain books whose world outlook did not correspond to that of the Haredi sector have been removed.

Otzar Gemara Ve’Halacha – 30,700 books Cost: $1,400

Thousands of books covering topics such as Mishnah and commentary, Babylonian Talmud and commentary, Jerusalem Talmud and commentary, Reponsa, Shulchan Aruch and commentary, halacha u’minhag, Torah files.

Otzar Torah U’Machshava – 26,400 books Cost: $1,250

Thousands of books covering such topics as Tanach and commentary, Chazal, Kabbalah, philosophy and ethics, Hassidism, Drushim, Jewish holidays, Jewish history, prayers and hymns and various others as well.

The Library Edition – 47,350 books Cost: $1,170 This version includes all 41,500 books in the Complete Otzar edition, as well as all program options other than the free search option.

To add 880 books of Mosad Harav Kook (670 books in Bnei Torah Edition) Cost: $320

880 books (670 in bnei Torah edition) from the important publisher – basic works in all Torah fields in precise and
uptodate editions: Chidushei HaRitva, Rashba, Ran, Tosafot HaRosh, Mefarshei Hamikra Harishonim series, Torat Chaim series, Torah Umegilot, Tshuvot HaGeonim, Rishonim and Acharonim, Daat Mikra on Nach series, hagut and mussar, piyut and tefila, research and bibliography, history, Hebrew Linguistics and much more.

To add 405 books of Machon Yerushalayim Publications Cost: $230

This unique package from a leading publisher of Jewish religious publications includes hundreds of books by rishonim and acharonim, such as Shulchan Arukh Hashalem,Otzar Mefarshei Hatalmud, Sidrat Tshuvot Harishonim, Minchat Chinuch Hashalem, Noda Beyehuda Responsa, Sidrot Gedolei Ashkenaz, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, and Ohr Hamizrach.

To add 420 Books of Ahavat Shalom Publishers Cost: $170

420 books of the Ahavat Shalom Publishers, including books published for the first time from manuscripts as well as fundamental books.

To add 4,200 books of Kehot Publication Society (Chabad) Cost: $ 90

An extensive collection of Chabad publications, including ancient and rare books, as well as all basic Chasidic sources, Torah files, history books, and albums. The collection has been made possible through the generous
assistance of Kehat Publishing.

Network license: $210 for each station.

Notice anything interesting?

The full database includes 47,350 books. But one can get a 45,150 book version as well. (Otzar thinks this is 1200 fewer books. It’s actually 2200). This version is called the “Bnei Torah” edition. The words bnei Torah are used to imply one is a yeshiva student or Haredi. It’s unfortunate that one cannot be considered a modern ben Torah, but such is the foible of language. So if you are a ben Torah you don’t want access to 2,200 of the books on the Otzar database. These books are deemed inappropriate for Haredim because they are inconsistent with Haredi perspectives.

This is incredible. All the books in the Otzar are frum texts. They are all legitimate seforim from reputable Torah scholars. Yet, a small segment of these books is not consistent with Haredi thinking. Well, of course not! Not everything in Judaism has always been Haredi. That much is obvious to any Torah scholar. But in order to reinforce an imaginary history where nothing was inconsistent with Haredi Judaism, these books are excised from the subscription. It’s really amazing. These are not anti-orthodox books. That’s for sure. These are just books that “do not correspond to the Haredi sector.” Turns out, it’s forbidden to read books that might inform you that your way of life is not the only way of life that is legitimate within orthodox Judaism. Pretty sad.

As for me, I want a list of these 2200 books. I also want to know who the censor is and what the criteria are for removal from the Bnei Torah list. I also want to learn those 2200 seforim, pronto.

Visit Fink or Swim.

Rabbi Eliyahu Fink

How to Publish Your Book Today

Monday, May 20th, 2013

How can you get your masterpiece published? On this week’s Goldstein on Gelt show, you can get the lowdown on Internet publishing – how to put your book out there and make money online. Penny Sansevieri, founder and head of Author Marketing Experts, returns to the show to give some more red hot internet publicity advice after the reissue of her e-book of the same name. Whether you’re a budding author or not, don’t miss this interesting interview.

Doug Goldstein, CFP®

Tevye in the Promised Land, Chapter Thirty-Eight: A Love Song for Hodel

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Months passed. Yankele and his family boarded a freighter and headed back to Russia. Guttmacher’s brother either never received, or didn’t bother to answer the letter Tevye had written to him, so Guttmacher’s two orphaned children became permanent fixtures in Tevye’s home. Another addition to the family also arrived. Ruchel and Nachman had a baby – a princess of a girl whom they named Sarah Tzeitl.

Buildings continued to sprout up in the Olat HaShachar colony. The dry beds of the swamp land were plowed. Crops were planted, wheat, barley, maize, and rye. Looking out from the hilltop synagogue, fields and vegetable gardens decorated the landscape like a colorful patchwork quilt. Wagon loads of water melons, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, cabbage, beets, and onions were shipped off to the Jaffa market. Citrus trees were planted, but the religious law of orlah, one of the agricultural laws which God had commanded the Jews to obey in the Holy Land, forbade the settlers from eating the fruit for the first three years of its growth. Laws requiring that gleanings and the corner of fields be left for the poor were also strictly observed, as well as the rules governing mixed plantings and tithes. Nachman, who had spent several days in Jaffa studying the agricultural laws with Rabbi Kook, was appointed to oversee their enforcement on the yishuv.

As if it were another law of the land, Arab marauders made periodic raids on the colony, stealing whatever they could lift or uproot. When two bulls were stolen, the settlers began chaining the legs of their livestock at night, but the measure didn’t foil the Arabs. Instead of leading the bulls away, they chopped them up with machetes and hauled them away in pieces. Once again, the Jews complained to the local Turkish officials, but nothing was done to apprehend the offenders. Past experience had taught Tevye that only a decisive response by the Jews would discourage the Arabs from further encroachments. His motion to organize an ambush was accepted. For a week, the Jews hid at night in the small forest of eucalyptus trees which had been planted to dry up the swamp. On the sixth night, a group of armed Arabs snuck out of the sand dunes bordering the colony. Silently, they darted through the darkness toward the barn. With a roar, Tevye rose to his feet and charged forward. Like a platoon following its commander, the other Jews raced out from their hiding places. Their shouts startled the Arabs. Only four of the settlers had rifles, but the roar of their gunfire terrified the thieves. Dropping their weapons, they ran to their horses and fled. Though none of the marauders had been wounded, the Arabs learned a lesson. Half a year passed without a further incident of trespassing or theft.

For the time being, life was a pleasure. A long stretch of spectacular weather arrived. Work progressed in leaps and bounds. At the end of the day, Tevye collapsed into bed in happy exhaustion. He felt that his sins, as well as the sins of the land, had been granted atonement. New life sprouted up everywhere. In his heart, in his house, and in the once desolate fields. Like the fruit of the sabra cactus which grew wild in the hills, the land was thorny and hard on the outside, but sweet and juicy within. As if overnight, wherever the eye looked, instead of swamp and sand, blossoming gardens and orchards covered the landscape.

“Blee ayin hara,” his wife Cannel said.

Anytime Tevye would praise their good fortune, his wife would whisper, “Blee ayin hara,” hoping that the evil eye would not cast its glance on them. It was an expression she had learned from her father. In this world, a man could never be certain what lay ahead. He could never take credit for his achievement and success, believing that his own wisdom and strength had brought him his good fortune. Everything was a blessing from God, and a man had to keep his head humbly bowed and always give thanks to his Maker.

At least for the moment, Tevye’s heart was at peace. As the Rabbis said, why should a man look out for a storm on a clear, sunny day? Or maybe Tevye had said that. Sometimes he couldn’t remember which words of wisdom the Rabbis had written, and which expressions he had coined on his own. Be that as it may, the only small worry that Tevye had was his unmarried daughter.

Tzvi Fishman

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/books/the-book-shelf/tevye-in-the-promised-land-books/tevye-in-the-promised-land-chapter-thirty-eight-a-love-song-for-hodel/2013/05/09/

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