The Difficulty In Printing The Tiferes Yisrael

Noting that the local paper mill in Vilna burned down and no paper was available locally, he apologizes for the delay in getting the process started as they were awaiting a batch of paper from Warsaw. Dismissing an option to print on low quality paper, the printer writes that in their vicinity such paper is not used.

The Levant Fair In Eretz Yisrael

The 1934 Fair represented the largest and most prestigious concentration of buildings executed in the International Style up to the time; it made a crucial contribution to a local evolution of modern form and details, and it formed the basis for the definition of the content of situated modernism and its promotion in Eretz Yisrael.

A Lost Letter From Rabbi Haim Palachi

It is dated 1866, and written by the famed Rabbi Haim Palachi (1787-1868), the rabbi of Izmir, and author of over 80 published works and many others lost to the infamous recurring fires in Izmir.

The Muddled Zionist Legacy Of Herbert Samuel

When Samuel arrived in Jerusalem to commence his term as High Commissioner, he was deeply moved by his greeting, as the Yishuv welcomed him enthusiastically, calling him “the First of Judea” and greeting him with a seventeen-gun salute and endless words of welcome.

A Rare Letter From The Ben Ish Hai

This letter was written in the month of Sivan, 1881, coinciding with the heat of chaos and turmoil that enveloped the Iraqi Jewish Community.

Israel’s First Yom Ha’Atzmaut

Interestingly, a proposed Knesset bill in 2012 proposed to simplify the structure of the celebration so that Yom Ha’Atzmaut would always fall on a Thursday, but the proposal failed because many legislators and citizens were unhappy about a summary dismissal of the significance of the fifth of Iyar, the date on which Israel had declared independence in 1948.

How Did Israel Fund Its War Of Independence?

Although some 4,000 volunteers – again, most of them Yishuv youth – went house-to-house collecting money from the public, the Tax for Our Defense failed to meet the goal of raising 2.5 million pounds within a month.

The Correspondence Of Rav Yitzchak Halevi Herzog

One of the first to foresee the impending Holocaust, Rav Herzog wrote countless letters to European Jewish leaders warning about the coming cataclysm and urging them to leave but, sadly, his entreaties went largely unheeded.

Storied Seder Plates

For this column, I thought I would share two Pesach Seder plates hailing from Germany that are in my personal collection.

The First Translated Sephardic Siddur In The New World

Leeser is best remembered for his extensive English translations and prolific writing for the American Jewish community, having authored numerous books and translations, edited a newspaper and full translations of the siddur and Tanach in an era where books written by Jews in English were nearly non-existent.


There is an ongoing debate amongst scholars as to whether the earliest text of Dayenu was created before or after the destruction of the Second Temple.

The First Hebrew Map Of Biblical Israel

The map is rather rudimentary, with just a border and a few place names, but its appearance in print was a major achievement, anything other than text was very labor-intensive to include in the printing blocks of the day and thus costly.

Nathan Straus: Shtadlan Extraordinaire, Zionist, And The ‘American Pasteur’

Over and above his public welfare efforts on behalf of milk pasteurization and preventing tuberculosis, Straus’s largesse and contributions were by no means limited to Jewish institutions and causes.

Frum Faces Of Aliyah: The Rosenbergs – From Dallas to Beit Shemesh

The challenges of making aliyah on a short timeline and in the midst of lockdown were many, but Tali says, Once we made the decision, Hashem carried us on His back to our new life...

Printing Honorary Titles

Another well-known example that I obtained recently is the first edition of the Shu"t Meshiv Davar, containing the responsa of R. Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin (1816-1893), best known by his acronym the Netziv, who served as rosh yeshiva of the Volozhin Yeshiva for decades.

Woodrow Wilson: Philosemite And Zionist

Wilson recognized in American Jews a spiritual force that had adapted itself to the American spirit and made broad contributions to the advancement of the welfare of the nation and of the world.

The Jewish Features Of The Infamous Rosenberg Case

The U.S. government offered to spare the lives of both Rosenbergs if Julius provided the names of other spies and if they admitted their guilt, but they refused, saying that they were innocent and would not bear false witness.

A Few Of My Purim Favorites

For this column, I thought I would share some interesting items relating to Purim that are in a museum or are from my personal collection.

Rabbi Akiva Eiger’s Drafted Reponsa

It appears that while the original responsa presented here was the original response that was sent, in preparation for printing many changes were made and effort was made to make the text easier to understand.

Purim Balls, Seudot, Concerts And Celebrations – You’re Invited!

The scope and variety of Purim celebrations over the past few centuries are truly remarkable, and I present here some of my favorite such Purim announcements and invitations from my extensive collection of Purim materials.

A Fragment Of The Ralbag’s Handwriting

The fragment I sold was from the commentary of the Ralbag, Levi ben Gershon's (1288-1344) commentary on the book of Iyov, with handwritten annotations and additions in the Ralbag's own handwriting!

Maria Von Tropp And The Sound Of Music: The ‘Jewish Angle’

The religion of the von Trapp family is the subject of some discussion among critics, with some claiming that they were Jewish.

Rabbi Dr Leo Jung’s Impact On Jewry

While nearly every correspondence of the Rayatz was collected and published for posterity in his Igrois Kodesh, this letter appears to be unpublished and the discussion within lost until now.

Could Israel’s Ambassador Distinguish Between Havdalah And Kiddush? – And The Art Of Havdalah

Havdalah and Kiddush are therefore flip sides of the same coin; the essence of Kiddush is to distinguish between the mundane (weekdays) and the holy (Shabbat), and the essence of havdalah is to differentiate between Shabbat and weekdays.

Rav Meir Shapiro’s American Fundraising Efforts

What I found most interesting about this letter that Rav Meir Shapiro also wrote down for himself many inscriptions. One side lists an outline for a sermon or shiur he was giving, with a brilliant array of sources jotted down in brevity, stringing together a concept and theme for his lecture.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe Cites Historic Speech By The Rebbe Rayatz Urging The Observance Of...

Some rabbanim through the centuries have encouraged Jews to mark Purim Katan specifically with a joyous feast... One of the great supporters of Purim Katan observance was the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

When Ponovezh And Chabad Were On Friendly Terms

While I wasn't able to find confirmation as to his appearance at the event, it is worth noting that R. Kahaneman kept a relationship with the Rayatz's successor, R. Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, and there are records of their meeting and friendship until the passing of the Ponovezher Rav, in 1969.

Here Comes The Sun … Or Morning Has Broken, Like The First Morning...

Some of the older men were telling grand tales of where they were and what it was like attending previous Birkat HaChamah ceremonies, but the story that I will never forget was told by a 92-year white-bearded rabbi, who merited to attend his fourth(!) such service.

‘Minhag America’ Prayerbooks

The New World was ripe for change, isolated from the old communities in Europe and with a steady stream of immigrants, it wasn't long before efforts to create change in the Jewish tradition were being pushed.


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