Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My First Bomberg Talmud

I just had the honor of selling a Bomberg Talmud, Menahot, printed in Venice, 1520. Breathtakingly gorgeous!
It is amazing to me that the structure of our standard Talmud Page is all based on this edition, done by a gentile. If he would have decided to put the Alfas and Rosh on the sides of the page, chances are it would have stayed there to this day.

Monday, October 22, 2012

An Extraordinary Family Reunion!




I listed on my site this week, a postcard sent by R. Yosef David Meir of Sassov to Kansas. I get a call this morning from a woman, who tells me that the postcard was sent to her great-grandmother, Fanie Garfinkel! I have no clue how she found the item being offered for sale but was more than happy to get the postcard back to the original family, 100 years late.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

New York pay phones became tiny libraries


John Locke, a Columbia architecture grad, has set up a little conceptual experiment which he is calling the Department of Urban Betterment whose chief duty is to covert old pay phone boxes into tiny libraries.

Apparently he's set up two booths so far and had limited success.  Apparently the first booth had all its books lifted, and then the shelves stolen within a few days.  The second booth fared a bit better with pedestrians both taking and leaving books for while, but eventually it suffered the same fate as the first.  Locke plans to continue his experiments but in future booths he wants to add some simple instructions to help show pedestrians the intended use.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Celebrity Endorsement for Jewish Books

After finding out that Gwyneth Paltrow's great-great-grandfather, whose surname was "Paltrowicz," was a rabbi in Nowogród, Poland, I hasted to add it to the description of the books of his I had for sale. Sure enough, they sold within a few days
Her great-great-grandfather R. Simhah Paltrowitch was a direct descendant of R. Rabbi David ben Samuel Ha-Levi, the renowned 17th-century authority on Jewish law, served as rabbi in Buffalo, New York from l890 to 1914. His other works include Simhah Hegyon (1903), Keter Zevi (1906), and Simhah Avot (1927).

Simchat Higayon by R. Simhah Paltrowitch

There are other great celebrity endorsed books as well. Leonard Cohen's grandthfather, Rabbi Solomon Klinitsky-Klein authored several books. Rabbi Solomon Klinitsky-Klein, was known as Sar haDikdook, the prince of grammarians. He wrote a thesaurus of talmudic interpretations and a dictionary of synonyms and homonyms. He was a disciple of Yitzhak Elchanan. In fact, he closed his teacher's eyes when he died. He was the principal of a yeshiva in Kovno. He also had a very strong secular side to him. He was a confrontational teacher, especially when he got to New York. He became part of The Forward and that group of Yiddish writers.
Rabbi Solomon Klonitsky-Kline wrote a book called Otzar Taamei Hazal (New York 1939) which was a compilation of the various interpretations to biblical verses found in Talmudic literature, arranged according to the order of the Torah, with his own notes. The English title page says it "Contains all the interpretations of the Pentateuch as given in the Talmudim, Tosefta, Mechilta, Sifra, Sifre, Pesiktot, Midrash Rabba, Tanhuma and other Midrashim."

Interestingly, not only is the book dedicated to Leonard Cohen's father Nathan (and two others, one of whom is the author's son) but at the end of the introduction is a mention of Leonard himself, then just a few weeks shy of 5 years old (as well as his mother Masha, and the other members of the family):

And then you have Arlo Guthrie. Guthrie received religious training for his bar mitzvah from Rabbi Meir Kahane, who would go on to form the Jewish Defense League. "Rabbi Kahane was a really nice, patient teacher," Guthrie later recalled, "but shortly after he started giving me my lessons, he started going haywire. Maybe I was responsible."

There is more. Rena Sofer for one. Sofer is a descendant of Baal Shem Tov and of the Chasam Sofer through her father. That's some Yichus you got there, wait till the matchmakers find out about this one.

Not to mention Jackie Mason, who himself was/is an ordained Rabbi, as his three brothers, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had been. His father Rabbi Eliyahu Mordechai Maza, authored many books as well.
Sifte Reem by Jackie Mason's Father Rabbi Eliyahu Mordechai Maza

How a Jew buys at auction

Words of wisdom from a fellow book dealer: When a gentile raises his hand at an auction, he is buying. When a Jew raises his hand at an auction, he is selling.

Promoting Judaism in the Middle East

I just received an order for 2 Encyclopedia Judaicas from a customer in Kuwait. One going there I can barely understand, but 2? Maybe they will have some study groups studying Enyclopedia Judaica there soon.

An unlikely buyer

A customer was paying for some books in the store recently when I noticed one of the books he picked out had an author with the same name as the customer. Wondering if there was a connection, the buyer tells me he is the author himself! Turns out, he really likes his book and gives them away as gifts often, but he has run out of copies. I am now on the lookout for him for more copies of the book for the author himself.

A few days later I sold the Great Jewish Enjoy-A-Trivia Book for Kids by Linda Holland Rathkopf to Linda Holland Rathkopf! I guess it's a good sign when the author runs out of copies.