Archive for the 'New York Public Library' Category

24
Jan
12

Celebrating 100 Years


What’s The Kosher Scene doing at the New York Public Library, on 5th Avenue between 41st and 42nd in Manhattan? Apart from using their extensive library resources for research, I took the time to look at  250 items of special interest that the curator culled from among the millions in the library’s collection; surprisingly, among them were a number of articles of Jewish interest.

The Library, its famous guardian lions overlooking Fifth Ave, reward visitors with its treasured halls of knowledge, its ornately carved and painted ceilings, elegant corridors, ranking it amongst the world’s most beautiful public libraries

The exhibit, Celebrating 100 Years, is divided in four sections: ObservationContemplationSociety, and Creativity. As you enter, the first items shown are a series of cuneiform tablets – one of the earliest forms of writing known – all are business and inventory records. One exquisitely illustrated book displayed in the Contemplation area is Jacob Judah Aryeh Leon Templo‘s Image of the Tabernacle

First written in Dutch and published in Amsterdam, it was translated into Spanish in 1654, and into English in 1675

Jacob Judah Leon was born in Hamburg (the son of Spanish Jews who fled the Inquisition) in 1603 and died in 1675. He became Chacham in Middelburg and, after 1643, in Amsterdam, where he was also engaged as a teacher in the Talmud Torah. He vowelized the entire Mishnah which was printed in 1646 at the establishment of Manasseh ben Israel. Leon wrote various books on religious subjects which he meticulously illustrated as well.

As you walk around the exhibit you will see Tatiana Kellner‘s powerful, impressive narrative of her parents, Holocaust survivors both…

The life like arm shows the Nazi given, concentration camp, number… B-11226 of the author/artist’s father

The power of its simple yet gut wrenching words, moving art work which includes drawings and sculpture, make it a powerful testimony to man’s inhumanity to man, a never to be expunged indictment of antisemitism and the horrors that echo still, despite Holocaust deniers.

On a lighter note, there is a theatrical poster in Yiddish about a dramatic reading “concert” by the celebrated actor Herz Grossbart. Another fascinating item was a handwritten notebook of Mary Evans’ (writing in the 19th century, under the nom de plume George Eliot), filled with annotations, Hebrew words and random thoughts that were part of the author’s research for her last novel Daniel Deronda.

Ms Evans (George Eliot) studied Hebrew, Jewish tradition and history to write Daniel Deronda.

To be sure, there are some infamous works here as well. Most notably, a copy of Adolf Hitler‘s first edition of his Mein Kampf;  a chilling historical radical reminder not yet a century old, of the power of the written word to inspire greatest good or greatest evil.
The inclusion of 5 pieces of Jewish interest, among 250 objects, books and manuscripts out of 50,000,000 items in the NYPL’s collection, serve as a powerful affirmation of the Jewish contributions to history, art, writing and more. An exhibit worth seeing, it will be on display through March the 4th.

CS




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