Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Announcement: Special shiur by Rabbi Yechiel Goldhaber on this Sunday, April 3

The readership of the Blog is invited to a shiur that will be taking place this Sunday April 3, at 7PM. The shiur will be given by the noted author Rav Yechiel Goldhaber of Eretz Yisrael. He has authored many wonderful articles and works on a wide range of topics most notably Minhage Kehilot about customs, Kunditon about the Titanic, and the Cherem on Spain, and 2 volumes of Ginze Yehuda, a collection of assorted letters of various Rabbis. 

The subject of the Shiur is חיפושו של ר ישראל משקלוב אחרי עשרת השבטים, and it will take place in Brooklyn at 3114 Quentin Rd, Brooklyn, NY 11234, on the second floor, upstairs at Mizrahi Bookstore. Men and women are invited. The shiur will be in English. Please note that the bookstore will close at 6:30 p.m. and will not be open during or after the shiur, if one wishes to visit the store, please plan accordingly.  

Thank you to Dr Stanley Sprecher and Tevy Kagan for their help in coordinating this Shiur

Recent Acquisitions at Mizrahi Bookstore, the libraries of Aaron Ben-Zion Shurin, Rabbi Ephraim F. Rubin, Jan (Yanek, Yohanan) Adler, Yosef Shmuel Steinmetz and Dr. Mordechai Hakohen

The library of Rabbi Aaron Ben-Zion Shurin 

Rabbi Shurin was a legendary writer and columnist, most known for his many decades as a columnist for the Jewish Forward. "The Forward, which was a daily from 1897 to 1983 (when it became a weekly), had enormous influence in the left-leaning Jewish world, and especially in New York, publishing such luminaries as Isaac Bashevis Singer and Elie Wiesel. Since 1983, it has had an English-language counterpart.
Throughout its history, The Forward was a Socialist, secular publication, and the presence of Rabbi Shurin, who is Orthodox, was something of an anomaly. His hiring reflected the feeling of the founding editor, Abraham Cahan, that the newspaper needed to speak to the religious Jews who flooded the United States in the 30's and 40's. "

Rabbi Shurin, who was in his 90s and of Lithuanian origin, represented the 36th consecutive generation of rabbis in his family. He began writing his column during the Holocaust and over the years has dealt with subjects as diverse as the lives of illustrious rabbis, the propriety of women sitting with men in synagogue, and the impact of court decisions on funds for yeshivas. Rabbi Shurin was the last surviving student of the Ponovezh Yeshiva in Europe. In addition, Rabbi Shurin taught at Stern College from 1966 until his retirement in 2001.

Rav Shurin received Rabbinical ordination from Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer, Rav Yitzchok Isaac Halevi Herzog, Rav Reuven Katz of Petach Tikvah, and others.

The library containing aprox 2000 volumes, mostly in Hebrew included many classics as well as obscure works from the last century as well as a very strong showing of newspapers, from the 19th century through the WWII period, with many bound volumes of rare newspapers present. 

The library of Rabbi Ephraim F. Rubin 

Rabbi Ephraim F. Rubin was born in 1920 in the Batei Ungarin section of Jerusalem. He emigrated to the United States in 1934, and attended Yeshivot Torah V'Daas and Rabbi Yitzchak Elchanan. He served as an expert mohel for over 50 years, and disseminated Torah in the Far Rockaway/ Lawrence community. Rabbi Rubin was not primarily an antiquarian collector of sefarim. His library consisted mainly of sefarim which he learned and taught from, Talmud, midrash, rishonim and halacha. He did, however, collect and enjoy sefarim connected with and about Eretz Yisrael, haggadot, and brit milah, his life's vocation. He passed away in 2014.

The library of Jan (Yanek, Yohanan) Adler

Jan (Yanek, Yohanan) Adler was born in Warsaw on April 6, 1932, where he lived at 19 Hoza Street with his older brother Kazik (later Ron) and parents Sofia and Maurizi ( Moshe). His grandparents lived on Twarda street in the Jewish quarter along with many members of his extended family, who all perished in the Holocaust. In 1939, during the first week of the war, Yanek, his parents and his brother managed to escape to Kovel (Ukraine) where they stayed with extended family. A few months later they were deported to Siberia where they spent a year freezing and starving until the Russians set them free in the summer of 1941. They traveled southwards to Uzbekistan, and there his brother Ron (who was 14 years old) was drafted to the Anders Army Cadet School (one of only 2 Jews), which was stationed in Palestine (now Israel). Yanek and his parents boarded the famous Children Of Teheran ship in 1943 and made Aliya to Israel. Yanek moved to New York in the 1960's, and lived in Queens, where he passed away in March 2016. He was an amateur historian, a translator and world travel expert, and spent every moment of free time with his beloved books. He was honored by the Polish government for his work in bringing together Polish Jews and non-Jews. You can watch Yanek tell his survival story in more detail in his own words in this video.

Yanek's brother, Dr. Ron Adler, was the Director of MAPI: Israel's Mapping Agency for 20 years and a professor at the Technion. He passed away in 2015.

1944 in Tel Aviv: Yanek, Maurizi, Zofia, and Ron Adler

One of his many bookcases in Queens 2010

School ID from Warsaw 1938-1939 (school year of 1939 never opened because of WWII...)

Summer of 1947, watching the Altalena burn in Tel Aviv

The library of Yosef Shmuel Steinmetz
The library of Yosef Shmuel Steinmetz, son of the legendary Melamed and Rosh Yeshiva of Torah Vodaath, Rabbi Moshe Steinmetz , contained aprox. 5,000 volumes. The bulk of his collection are works of Hasidut, printed within the last 30 years. There are numerous works of Chabad, Satmar, Bobov, as well as nearly every other Hasidut present. There are endless different commentaries on the Haggadah, Avot, as well as numerous classic sets alongside many obscure works. Nearly every twig of every branch of Hasidut is presented.

Yosef Shmuel was known as a Talmid Chacham who cherished his books and spent any income he had on expanding his library, which he put to very good use. Many in the book community recall him as a friendly fixture at local sefarim stores in Boro Park near his home. In his library, all the Hasidic branches made peace, with books by the Satmar, Sadigura, Chabad and Sanz Rebbes all sharing the same shelves. 

 The library of Dr. Mordecai Hacohen
Dr. Mordecai Hacohen (1919-2008) was born in Vienna. A member of the Betar Youth Movement, he helped coordinate the clandestine immigration of thousands of Jews to Israel in the run-up to World War II. He went on to help establish the Israeli Foreign Service. A staunch Revisionist Zionist, he found himself thus ousted from Ben-Gurion's government, and wound his way to New York. Of his many extraordinary achievements during his career in New York, was his serving as the Director General of the Otzar Hatorah chain of schools, founded by Isaac Shalom. Tens of thousands of students studied Jewish and Vocational studies in Otzar Hatorah's schools throughout North Africa, the Middle East, France and Iran. His leadership of the organization greatly expanded the reach of this remarkable organization and his natural ability at fundraising helped keep it afloat. Dr Hacohen also served as Senior Vice President of Israel's Bank Leumi, where he was instrumental in promoting investment in Israeli companies. His memoir, Homeland: From Clandestine Immigration to Israeli Independence was published in 2008. 


It is that time of year again, and we welcome you to browse through our wide selection of Haggadot now available. Nearly 1,000 different Haggadot are available, with everything from Maxwell House Haggadot to rare 18th century illustrated masterpieces, there is something for everyone. Some highlights include a Haggadah printed on parchment, a Haggadah printed by the Dror Habonim in 1946 in Hungary, The Trieste Haggadah, 2 Yemenite Manuscript Haggadot, a Haggadah with translation to Marathi among much else. You can view the titles available here

Rabbi Avraham Shalom Halberstam of Stropkov testifying regarding the Sanz-Sadigura fight

In 1984 the book Yeushar Ba'aretz was published, authored by a fine Williamsburg Jew, Yeshaya Asher Mendelowitz. At the end of the book, appear in facsimile many rare and otherwise unknown Hasidic letters.

One of the letters reproduced is a letter by Rabbi Shalom Halberstam, the Stropkover Rav, the son of the Shinover Rav and grandson of the Divre Hayyim of Sanz. In it, he writes that "he testifies, from his father and grandfather that people mislead them with false information regarding the dispute with Sadigura, and their intent was not Leshem Shamayim ("For the sake of heaven."). It is clear that if these great giants were not mislead by evil people, these great people would have brought about the final redemption through their Torah and holiness."

This statement would come as a shock to many of the followers of these Hasidic Dynasties today, who believe in the infallibility of their Rebbes. The Sanz-Sadigura dispute, was one of the harshest Rabbinic disputes in history, with several books written about it's history and development, see for example,
The dissertation on the subject by Rabbi Ahron Malkiel,   ספר החסידות של אהרן מרכוס ,  and David Assaf's הציץ ונפגע: אנטומיה של מחלוקת חסידית

Interestingly,  when the book was republished, this letter mysteriously was no longer present.
You can read the letter in it's entirety below. 

A few pages prior in the book, appears this other gem, which you can read below:
from the fifth to bottom line, continues below

continuation from previous photo
hat-tip: Menachem Silber

The Marranos, New World Explorers and the Kashruth status of Turkey

The kosher status of the Wild Turkey has been a much discussed topic in Rabbinic Literature. Being a New World Species, there was no tradition regarding it's status as a Kosher bird. Many different solutions have been proposed as to why it is indeed Kosher, one of the most novel theories put forth is that of the author of Sichat Hullin, who had this original idea:
שיתכן והיו באמריקא בזמן שנתגלתה בני ישראל מעשרת השבטים האובדים בארץ אסו'ר (כמסופר בספר שארית ישראל פרק לה, בעדות שגבה רבי מנשה בן ישראל מפי אנוס ספרדי שחזר מאמריקא), ולהם היתה מסורת על עוף זה והעבירוה לחכמי הדור דרך מגורשי ספרד שהגיעו לשם
His theory is that it is possible, that when the New World was discovered, there were Jews there from the ten lost tribes who were exiled there ( as related in the book She'erit Yisrael with the testimony received by Menasseh Ben Israel from a marrano who returned from the New World). These Jews from the lost tribes, had a tradition regarding the Kashrut of the Turkey and they passed on the information to the Rabbis of that generation, through the marranos.

hat-tip: Menachem Silber

Prayer composed by the British Chief Rabbinate in 1933, on behalf of the Jews of Germany

On the free-end of a 1903 Editon of the Netinah Lager commentary on the Torah, I found this prayer pasted in. The prayer was composed by the British Chief Rabbinate in 1933, on behalf of the Jews of Germany.

"אב הרחמים בלב נשבר נבואה לחלות פניך היום : הנה קול שועת בת עמנו מארץ גרמניא . ולבנו דוי על הרעות אשר נגד פניהם : רוח עועים נשפך על מושלי עם אדיר . ויתאמצו להכות בית יעקב רסיסים : אנא חמל נא על בניך המצפים לישועתך יום יום . ובטל מעליהם כל גזרות אכזריות : חזק נפש אחינו היושבים בצרה ויגון . והיתה אמונה אזור חלצימו : נטע אחוה ורחמנות בלבנו שלא נתעלם מבשרנו . וירב מעשה הצדקה לעזרת הנרדפים . עד שתוציאם מאפלה לאורה ומעבדות לחרות . ונאמר לפניך שירה חדשה . צורנו וגואלנו : אל עליון הסר קנאה ושנאת חנם מלב העמים : חדש רוח נכון בקרבם . ולא יוסיפו עוד בני עולה לענות את ישראל : קרב הימים אשר יודע בגוים כי אב אחד לכלנו ואל אחד בראנו . ופרוש סכת שלומך על כל יושבי תבל . אמן ואמן "

A Shabbat Hagadol Sermon, given by R. Haim Brody in The Altneuschul: Prague's Old New Synagogue

Tucked in a Prague edition of the Talmud, tractate Zebachim, I found the notes of Chief Rabbi of Prague Haim Brody, which he wrote in preparation for his Shabbat Hagadol Derasha at the Altneuschul: Prague's Old New Synagogue in the year 1917. A look back in to history to the style and surprising depth of the lectures given to the general population in this community.
Brody was the rabbi of the congregation of Náchod, Bohemia and chief rabbi of Prague (both cities then part of Austria-Hungary), before moving to Palestine. In Czechoslovakia, he was the leader of the Mizrachi movement.

A Critique of The Source by James A. Michener

"The Source is a historical novel by James A. Michener, first published in 1965. It is a survey of the history of the Jewish people and the land of Israel from pre-monotheistic days to the birth of the modern State of Israel."

Inserted in a copy of The Source was found this anonymous Jewish response and critique of the book. An interesting read, the response, is an intelligent and detailed critique and correction of errors in the book in matters of Jewish Law. You can read it in it's entirety below:

hat-tip: Menachem Silber