Photo Credit: Israel Mizrahi

A collection I recently acquired contained a copy of the Tanach published in Germany for the Jews in the Displaced Persons Camps following the Holocaust. The publication was dedicated to President Harry Truman, with a dedication page superimposed with an American Flag:

The remnants of Israel that survived the great destruction wrought upon our people by Hitler’s hoards, these shattered remnants the ‘Sherith Hepleita’ were weakened physically and spiritually. We wish to dedicate this Holy Bible, the very ancient well of civilization, to his Honor, the President of the United States of America, Harry S. Truman. His courageous and kind words, his noble acts and deeds in behalf of our people have served as a ray of hope in these trying, troubled and most critical period of our people.

The book was published by the Vaad Hatzalah, under the auspices of Irving M. Bunim, J. Rosenzweig and Rabbi Saul Lasher. The introduction to this edition describes the historical significance of this printing:

This Bible was printed on the very presses used by Hitler to denounce our people. It gives us great pleasure to announce that these selfsame presses are now in the service of the VAAD HATZALAH and are busily engaged in printing Bibles, Talmuds, and other holy literature required by the students in the many Yeshivas and Talmud Torahs maintained by the Vaad Hatzalah in Germany today.

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Vaad Hatzalah (the Rescue Committee), an organization founded to rescue Jews in Europe from the Holocaust, was founded in November 1939 by the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada (Agudath Harabbanim), under the leadership of Rabbi Eliezer Silver. During the initial year-and-a-half of its existence, the Vaad concentrated its efforts on assisting the over 2,600 Polish rabbis and yeshivah students who had escaped to Lithuania, and trying to arrange their emigration overseas. After World War II, the Vaad played an active role in the spiritual rehabilitation of the survivors, continuing its operations until the early 1950s. From its establishment in 1939 until the end of 1945, the Vaad spent more than three million dollars on relief and rescue activities and in the process helped “Americanize” the American Orthodox leadership.

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Israel Mizrahi is the owner of Mizrahi Bookstore in Brooklyn, NY, and JudaicaUsed.com. He can be reached at JudaicaUsed@gmail.com.