Salo Baron on building up Columbia’s Judaica manuscript collection

As cited in Tablet Magazine, from David L. Langenberg, ed., Of Many Generations: Judaica and Hebraica from the Taube-Baron Collection.

“Columbia at that time had only a small collection of Hebraica and Judaica, largely donated by Temple Emanu-El. This collection was valuable from an antiquarian standpoint, but could hardly be of any use to a class of predominantly unprepared students. Because all this took place during the Great Depression, when prices generally were going down, I was confidant that the amount set aside out of the Miller Fund would suffice for a presentable Jewish collection. In fact, not long thereafter I was approached by a distinguished Galician rabbi, who was also a dealer in Hebrew books. He informed me that he had for sale a collection of precious manuscripts from various parts of the Eastern Mediterranean. I suggested to the President the purchase of the whole collection. Thus Columbia, which at that time had on its shelves only a little more than 400 various Hebraic manuscripts, now got an additional 600 items. With its expansion to 1,000 or more titles, the University’s holdings had become one of the leading collections among the country’s universities.”

For more information on the history of Columbia’s rare Judaica collections, see the RBML Hebraica and Judaica collections page.

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