Sunday, March 18, 2018

Entries from The Diary of a Jewish Bookseller, March 2018

There are numerous reasons people have for building rare book collections, but one I encountered recently, was totally new to me. I discovered, that a customer who was buying a number of rare books for me, was using the books as a method to hide money from his wife, whom he is now divorcing.

A newly married young man came in with request for some help. His father-in-law is coming in for a first visit to their new home, and he desperately needed to fill his bookcase with some classic sefarim. There is only one chance for first impressions and he wanted to make sure he got it right.

A young man who is a regular visitor to the store, brought along his date on his latest store visit. The relationship was getting serious, and he didn't want her to have any unpleasant surprises after he got married. They left after a few hours browsing through books, her pile of books being slightly higher than his.

A Satmar teenager visits the store and in Yinglish asks me for books on Israeli Soldiers and the history of IDF.

An older gentleman, walked in off the street, made his way all the way to the back of the store, passing aisles and aisles of books. He proceeded to ask me, "Do you sell books?", to which I responded that actually we are just preparing flammables for a bonfire.

A first time customer tells me that now, that he is "done Jewish Philosophy", if I can please help him find books on Jewish History.

Two customers, in conversation in the store, discovered they both write anonymously to the same Jewish Periodical, under various aliases. After much hesitation, and inner turmoil, they revealed to each other their pen-names. For one of them, this being the very first time he has outed himself in public. Fearful of repercussions from his insular community for his "open minded" writing, he insisted this information remain a secret, lest his family be made to suffer.

A prominent Jewish organization contacted me, looking to purchase a gift for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. We settled on 2 first editions of works of the Abarbanel. Bibi's father, Ben-Zion Netanyahu, wrote his dissertation and published a biography of the Abarbanel. I received word that the gift was a great hit with the Prime Minister.

The following pair of Rabbinic portraits came with a book collection I acquired, though I have not had success in identifying them. Any help from you readers, would be greatly appreciated.

We recently acquired several fine collections of Haggadot, we currently have over 1000 different Haggadot available.
You can view them all here…
Hebrew ones can be viewed here…/Religious-Hebrew-/_i.html…
with Perushim here…/Hebrew-books-/_i.html…
English ones here…/English-Jewish-books-/_i.html…
and antiquarian and rare Haggadot here…/Antique-Jewish-books-/_i.html…
As always, they can be purchased online or over the phone at 347-492-6508, and can be either picked up from our store or shipped.
An early Hag Sameach

Noted posek, R. Nota Greenblatt, perusing rare works on Gittin at Mizrahi Bookstore


  1. Re 'rabbinic portraits' - are you certain that they are rabbinic actually? Perhaps they were just family members with appearances that nowadays appear rabbinic to some.

    I would think that the family might be able to help.

    1. I am not certain, but the person who I obtained it from, was the son of the owner of these portraits, and he recalled his dad telling him that they were local Rabbis when he was growing up. I suspect you may be right though.