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…"
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.
I am pleased to announce two new acquisitions for the Judaica collection at Columbia:
1) A small collection of materials from Judaica bookdealers around the world in the first part of the 20th century. A brief description:
Collection of letters and ephemera relating to the Judaica book trade, most from 1926-1955. The collection includes correspondence from all over the world, including Vienna, Lisbon, Italy, the United States, and Palestine/Israel. It is notable as a rare glimpse into the world of pre-Holocaust collecting, as well as the early history of Jewish settlement in Palestine. Notable bookdealers and collectors include Biegeleisen (New York), David Frankel (Vienna and New York), Yochanan and Abraham Rubenstein (Haifa), Efraim Keizer (Pressburg) Yehuda Idil Bialistotsky (Slonim), Rubin Mass (Jerusalem), etc. The majority of the collection is in Hebrew, but other languages include English, German, and French.
This collection is very important for the study of the Jewish book trade in the pre-WWII era, when book dealers throughout the world were in constant communication with each other as well as other collectors in order to build libraries of Judaica.
2) A collection of letters relating to the controversy around Nehemiah Hayon, a 17th century Kabbalist who was accused of being a follower of the false messiah Sabbetai Zevi. The controversy swirled around Italy and Holland, and many prominent rabbis were involved in the case. An interesting letter in the collection also deals with "a woman of loose virtue."
Another manuscript dealing with the Sabbetai Zevi affair can be found in the current exhibit, "The People In the Books," which remains open through January 25 (note that the library will be open 12/26-28 for those who would like to visit during the holiday break).
As always, we welcome scholars to utilize our collections, especially our new acquisitions.