Thursday, January 17, 2013

For Posterity the Business Card of ISAIAH BERGER, BOOKSELLER, BROWNSVILLE, BROOKLYN, NY

Isaiah Berger sold Jewish books in the early 1900s, in Brownsville, 125 Dumont Avenue, Brooklyn. His son is Professor David Berger, dean of Yeshiva University. "Judaeo-Oriental Book Service"

4 comments:

  1. Thanks, you have some fine postings. Keep up the good work.

    I alerted Dr. Berger to this post and he commented that it should read mid-1900's, rather than early 1900's.

    Additionally, he sent me a copy of a translation of a very fine article he wrote about his father, which was published twenty five years after his passing, close to fifteen years ago (appeared in Hadoar in Hebrew, and recently in English translation in a recently published collection of essays, Cultures in Collision and Conversation). I think the whole thing is worthy of posting here. However, due to its length, I will just share an excerpt about his book selling activity now (if you want more, just say so).

    "......he opened a bookstore that served primarily as a warehouse. He periodically issued a catalogue with a list of books in Hebrew and other languages that dealt mainly with Jewish themes but to a non-trivial extent also with general folklore and other areas of study that interested him. An important scholar informed me quite recently that he saves the catalogues of “Isaiah Berger, Books” as documents of importance for the history of Jewish culture in the United States."

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  2. Another relevant piece from same source-

    "In 1954, shortly after the passing of Menachem Ribalow [the founder and long-time editor], he began his work on the editorial staff of Hadoar on a regular basis. The catalogues that he published provided him with an opportunity to continue his involvement with the books that served as the source of his spiritual sustenance, but his daily livelihood came from his position with Hadoar, where he remained almost until his passing in 1973."

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, fascinating stuff. In the golden era of Jewish Bookstores, the booksellers such as Berger, often had a direct involvement in encouraging scholars to write and many books were published due to their efforts, many were accomplished scholars themselves. The publishing business overlapped with bookselling as well and many of today's Jewish Publishers started off as booksellers. I think it is important we keep a record of such people and their contributions to Jewish Literary life.

      Do you know which issue of Hadoar it appeared in? I have many of the issues, chances are I have the one quoted, I would love to read it.

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