New Acquisitions: Travels of Moise Vita Cafsuto

In 1733, a man from Firenze, in Italy, named Moise (Moses) Vita (Hayyim) Cafsuto (Cassuto) set off on a journey to the Holy Land.  He kept a diary of his travels throughout the Middle East, where he noted interesting sites (specifically Jewish ones, like graves and synagogues) and scenes along his journey.   We recently acquired a copy of this manuscript, in Italian with Hebrew blurbs for sites of Jewish interest.  It is an interesting journey of travels in general, but also specifically for Jewish "Biblical tours."  In one instance, for example, the author describes how he and his fellow travelers found "Har Ha-har," the site of the Biblical Aaron's burial.  He describes the site as containing a "cave, where there are writings said to be in Arabic on a great stone of marble, and there is an everlasting candle…"

Printers’ Marks in Handwritten Books

From almost the dawn of printing, printers have created special insignia to indicate their handiwork on the books that they produced.  Jewish printers marks varied in design from the very simple (like the lion of Eliezer Alantansi in Hijar in the late 15th century, left), to the very complex (see below). 

The major source for printer's marks is still Avraham Ya'ari's Digle Ha-madpisim ha-ivriyim, published in Jerusalem in 1944.

The use of printer's marks is not a surprising innovation; it was simply a way to brand a product, used even today.  More surprising, however, was when scribes included printer's marks from known printers in handwritten books.  The Columbia manuscript collection contains (at least) three instances of handwritten texts with printer's marks included within them.  In all three cases, I can only guess at the reasoning.  Suggestions are welcome!

Marco Antonio Giustiniani, 1545-1552:

1. The first (and most beautiful) copy of a printer's mark in the Columbia collection is a copy of the mark for the well-known Giustiniani press, of Venice.  This image is at the end of a document detailing the Venetian Doge's decision on the status of the Jews of Corfu.  Perhaps this image was included as a not-so-subtle dig at the Jewish Greek community in Corfu, whose dispute with the Italian community there led to the Doge's response (which favored the Italians).

 

2. The second Giustiniani mark appears at the end of a prayerbook for the holiday of Sukkot produced in Avignon in 1772, following the rites of the Comtat Venaissin community.

This book shows no obvious connection to Venice or Giustiniani, and so its use is unclear.  However, Ya'ari shows that at least one other press, the Prague press of Hayyim b. Jacob ha-Cohen (1604-1612), used a mark that was almost an exact copy of Giustiniani's mark – so perhaps it was simply a symbol of quality book production that the scribe wished to capitalize upon.

 

Giorgio di Cavalli, 1565-1568:

3. The third example of a printer's mark in a handwritten book comes is found in a book of proverbs.  This is a very interesting case of a printed book that is preserved only in manuscript.  Yeshayahu Vinograd's Thesaurus of Hebrew Book cites a copy of this work Mishle Hakhamim, printed in Venice (in Yiddish, though!), in 1566 – with no copy extant.  Is this the last surviving copy of an edition of a printed text from the Cavalli press?

New Resource: Sefaria

Sefaria is a new, crowdsourced website which is "building a free living library of Jewish texts and their interconnections, in Hebrew and in translation. [The] scope is Torah in the broadest sense, from Tanakh to Talmud to Zohar to modern texts and all the volumes of commentary in between."

Thus far, over 200,000 words have been translated, and it looks as if Sefaria already is a wonderful resource for referencing Bible and commentaries in both English and Hebrew.

Norman E. Alexander Lecture: How (and why) the Jews Invented Hollywood

Columbia University Libraries is pleased to announce the annual Norman E. Alexander Lecture in Jewish Studies, featuring Neal Gabler, Senior Fellow at the Norman Lear Center at USC: "How (and why) the Jews invented Hollywood."  The lecture will take place on Wednesday, October 16 at the Skylight Room in the Faculty House (64 Morningside Drive, 4th Floor) at Columbia.  The lecture is scheduled to begin at 6 PM.

New acquisitions: Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics Online

"The Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics offers a systematic and comprehensive treatment of all aspects of the history and study of the Hebrew language from its earliest attested form to the present day. The encyclopedia contains overview articles that provide a readable synopsis of current knowledge of the major periods and varieties of the Hebrew language as well as thematically-organized entries which provide further information on individual topics. With over 950 entries and approximately 400 contributing scholars, the Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics is the authoritative reference work for students and researchers in the fields of Hebrew linguistics, general linguistics, Biblical studies, Hebrew and Jewish literature, and related fields."

New Acquistions: Old Yiddish printed books (digital)

The Columbia University Libraries has recently acquired a database of 400 digitized Yiddish books from the Hebraica and Judaica of the Tychson Collection at the Rostock University.

According to the publisher's description:

"The nearly 400 titles of this edition offer a cross-section of the history of Yiddish books up to the 19th century. There are numerous rarities and unica, including the first Yiddish printing, Mirkevet ha-Mishne, Krakau 1534. Among translations and paraphrases of the Bible the collection contains the Konstanz-edition (1544) as well as translations by Blitz and Witzenhausen. Three of the existing editions of the Tsene-rene (Frankfurt a.M. 1685, Sulzbach 1702) were first discovered in Rostock, and the third of those (Fürth [Pseudo-Amsterdam] 1761) is apparently to be found nowhere else. One of the rarities among the prayer-books is a Hebrew Siddur. It contains Yiddish passages and was published in 1560 in Mantua."

This resource provides access to some of the oldest and rarest printings of Yiddish materials in existence.

We will soon be adding records with direct links to each of the titles in CLIO for easier searching.

Note: The site is in German.  To view a list of titles, go to: http://www.columbia.edu/cgi-bin/cul/resolve?clio10264881, and then click the link for "Titel" after "Die Hebraica und Judaica der Sammlung Tychsen und der Universitätsbibliothek Rostock" in the "Collections" box.  You can also search by keyword.  To access the PDF, click "Details" under the title that interests you, and then click "PDF" under "komplettes Werk."   The link to PDF will then change to "Herunterladen," and you can click that to download the file.

Yosef Yerushalmi Papers: Processed and available for research

The papers of noted Columbia professor, Yosef Yerushalmi, have now been processed and are mostly (with the exception of some closed correspondence) open for use in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library.  Many thanks go to Jacob Goldwasser and Carrie Hintz for their tremendous work on the archive.

More information can be found in the finding aid, here: http://findingaids.cul.columbia.edu/ead/nnc-rb/ldpd_6892527/summary

Yosef Yerushalmi was a Jewish historian and a professor of Jewish history, primarily at Harvard University and Columbia University. This collection includes most of his academic records and many of his personal records as well. This includes research, correspondence, and notes.

The collection varies greatly in its constitution. It contains some very personal correspondence, such as an anniversary card from Yerushalmi’s father in the late 1960s. It also contains some or Yerushalmi’s meticulous personal records, including a journal of his own experience undergoing psychoanalysis and various date books. It has a very full and comprehensive assortment of professional correspondences, including hundreds of hours of meeting minutes for “A Psychoanalytic Study of Anti-Semitism” and all of Yerushalmi’s correspondences as the president of the Leo Baeck Institute. The collection has very specific logistical information, even records of transportation for lectures and financial records.

The majority of the materials in the collection are in the form of correspondence. Even much of Yerushalmi’s research was correspondent in nature, as he often requested various materials from individuals and archives around the world. The other major component of the collection is Yerushalmi’s personal notes. This includes thousands of pages of lecture notes, class notes, and publication drafts. Yerushalmi lectured all around the world, but mainly at universities in the United States and Israel, and most of these speeches are well preserved in the collection. After a long and fruitful teaching career, Yerushalmi produced reams of notes to himself about what to discuss in class. In addition to his personal notes, there are actual tests that he administered to his students in the collection, as well as syllabi and grading sheets. He even saved some student papers and letters of recommendation. Yerushalmi was also a prolific writer, and draft upon draft of his publications lie in the collection.

The publication materials are in a few formats. In terms of linear feet, corrected drafts of manuscripts comprise the bulk of them. For each of the books that Yerushalmi wrote—and he wrote several—there are many versions, often in many languages, sent between him and his editors, with corrections from both entities. Some were reprinted in different editions, which begot even more manuscripts.

In order to produce these works, Yerushalmi relied heavily on research from primary sources for the most part. Much of his research was on the Jewish communities of the Middle Ages, and he saved thousands of photocopied primary documents, as well as photocopies of letters the Freud wrote used as research for Yerushalmi’s work Freud’s Moses: Judaism Terminable and Interminable.

New Online Resource: Aufbau

The Library of the Leo Baeck Institute has completed digitizing all issues of the German-Jewish émigré Journal, Aufbau published between 1934 and 2004, thus ensuring that the entire contents of the most important publication of the global German-Jewish refugee and exile community will remain available online to researchers.  The new resource is available immediately at: archive.org/details/aufbau

In 2012, LBI worked with Internet Archive, an online library and LBI’s primary digitization partner, to digitize the issues ofAufbau published between 1951 and 2004. This project, partially funded by the Metropolitan New York Library Council, put the entirety of the Aufbau online for the first time, since the German National Libray (DNB), had previously digitized the volumes of Aufbau published from 1934 – 1950 as part of its Exilpresse Digital project.

However, in June 2012, the DNB closed online access to the Aufbau along with other German journals published in exile and many Jewish periodicals published in Germany during the Nazi Regime, citing legal concerns. In order to ensure that this critical resource remains available to researchers, the Library of the Leo Baeck Institute digitized the early years of the Aufbau in 2013.  JM Jüdische Medien, the Swiss Publishing company that owns the rights to the Aufbau, has granted its approval for the digitization, and funding was once again provided by the Metropolitan New York Library Council.

Hebrew Mss @ CUL: New Acquisition: Franchetti Family Archive

I am pleased to announce the acquisition of manuscripts from the archive of the Franchetti family.  The Franchettis were hatmakers, originally from Mantua, who moved to Tunis and established their hat business there.  The business quickly became global, with connections in Leghorn/Livorno and Izmir.  This new collection includes 8 volumes of business correspondence and records. 

The Franchetti family is also mentioned as members of the Scuola Grande of Mantua in the archives of the synagogue, which are also held here at Columbia.

New Database Acquisition: Sol and Evelyn Henkind Talmud text databank

I am pleased to announce the acquisition of a new database for the study of Talmud at Columbia, the Sol and Evelyn Henkind Talmud text databank.  The databank includes typed transcriptions and images of nearly all of the critical manuscripts and early printings of the Talmud, to allow scholarly research of variants and alternate readings of the text (including the Columbia Talmud and the 10th century Menahot – shown here – from Columbia's collection).

The ultimate goal of the databank is to "encompass all primary textual witnesses of the Babylonian Talmud, including the manuscripts of the tractates of the Babylonian Talmud of Oriental, Ashkenazic, Sephardic, or Yemenite provenance, and first printed editions. It will include hundreds of Cairo Geniza and European binding fragments of the Babylonian Talmud, many as both text and digital image."