Wednesday, December 3, 2008


The Jewish Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania, in conjunction with the University of Pennsylvania Library and the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, are pleased to announce the ninth annual Manfred R. Lehmann Memorial Master Workshop to be held on May 10-11 (Sunday-Monday), 2009, at CAJS.

This year’s workshop will be led by Professor Moshe Rosman of the Jewish History department of Bar Ilan University in Israel. The workshop will treat the Traditional Eastern European Jewish Book, 1500-1900, by focusing on three principal types: Rabbinic and Hasidic books, and those for women. Sessions will survey each category, analyzing their subjects, forms, and social and cultural roles, and will highlight the printing, reception history, and cultural/social significance of one central book for each type: the Talmud, the Tze’ena U’re’ena, and Shivhei haBesht.

The workshop is open to professors and independent scholars, professional librarians in the field of Jewish and related studies, and graduate students in Jewish Studies. Attendance at previous workshops is not a prerequisite for admission.

Because much of the Workshop will be devoted to the reading of Hebrew texts like colophons, it is necessary that all participants be able to read non-vocalized Hebrew texts.

For faculty and professionals, tuition is $250. In addition to attendance and all materials for the workshop, the tuition includes two or three nights in a hotel (double-occupancy) for the nights of May 10 and 11 (with the option of May 9), and all meals and refreshments (all kosher) during the course of the workshop.

Graduate students may apply for a full scholarship to the workshop.
N.B. To apply for the scholarship, a graduate student should write us giving the details of his or her academic program and a brief statement explaining how the workshop will further his or her academic studies. S/he should also ask a faculty advisor to write us a letter of recommendation on the student's behalf.

Attendance is limited. If you are interested in attending the workshop, please notify us immediately. Full payment must be received by March 1, 2009. Make checks payable to “Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania.”

A registration form is available at:

Please address all correspondence to:

Lehmann Workshop
c/o Jewish Studies Program
711 Williams Hall
255 S. 36th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

The Manfred R. Lehmann Memorial Master Workshop in the History of the Jewish Book has been made possible by a generous contribution from the Manfred and Anne Lehmann Foundation along with grants from Mr. Albert Friedberg, the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation, Andrew H. Cohn, Esq.
C'66, and the University of Pennsylvania Research Foundation.


Christine Walsh
Administrative Coordinator
Jewish Studies Program
711 Williams Hall
255 S. 36th Street
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305
Tel 215-898-6654
Fax 215-573-6026

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Justin Winsor Prize for Library History Essay

Re-posted from SHARP-L:

From: Suzanne Stauffer
Subject: Justin Winsor Prize for Library History Essay

The Library History Round Table (LHRT) of the American Library Association
(ALA) is accepting submissions for the 2008 Justin Winsor Prize for the best
library history essay. Applications must be received by February 28, 2009.
The application deadline is firm and any submissions received after the
deadline will not be forwarded to the review committee. Receipt will be
confirmed with 4 business days.

The award, named in honor of the distinguished 19th century librarian,
historian, and bibliographer who was also ALA's first president, consists of
a $500 cash award. It includes an invitation to have the winner's paper
considered for publication in Libraries & the Cultural Record.

Manuscripts submitted should not be previously published, previously
submitted for publication, or under consideration for publication or another
award. To be considered, essays should embody original historical research
on a significant topic in library history, be based on primary sources
materials whenever possible, and use good English composition and superior

Essays should be organized in a form similar to that of articles published
in Libraries and the Cultural Record, with footnotes, spelling and
punctuation conforming to the latest edition of the Chicago Manual of Style.
Papers should not exceed 35 typewritten, double-spaced pages (plus footnotes
and bibliography).

FOUR (4) copies of the manuscript should be submitted. The name and other
information identifying the author should appear only on a separate cover

Submit manuscripts to:

Denise M. Davis
American Library Association
50 East Huron St.
Chicago, IL 60611

Submissions via fax and email are not acceptable.

Decisions will be made by LHRT's Justin Winsor Prize Committee.

Suzanne M. Stauffer, Ph.D., Chair Justin Winsor Prize Committee
Assistant Professor
School of Library and Information Science
Louisiana State University
275 Coates Hall
Baton Rouge, LA 70803
Fax: (225)578-4581

Book History at AJS

This blog grew out of a meeting held last year at the December 2007 meeting of the Association for Jewish Studies in Toronto. Although we are not convening a meeting this year at the conference to be held in a few weeks in Washington, our discussions last year and the informal networking that went on resulted in a number of sessions proposed with significant "history of the book" content. In addition, a number of sessions look to be of interest to readers of this blog.

Here is a selection of such sessions:

Chair and Respondent: Matthias B. Lehmann (Indiana University)
"Livornese Hebrew Printing, Patronage, and Jewish Intellectual Networks in the
Eighteenth Century"
Francesca Bregoli (University of Oxford)

Chair: Martin I. Lockshin (York University)
"The Process of Reading in Twelfth-Century Jewish and Christian Biblical Exegesis"
Michael A. Signer (University of Notre Dame)
"Tosafists, Cathedral Masters, and Their Critics"
Ephraim Kanarfogel (Yeshiva University)
"Jewish Knowledge of Christianity in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries"
Daniel J. Lasker (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev)
"Echoes of the Eve/Mary Dichotomy in the Zohar"
Sharon Koren (HUC-JIR)

Chair: Judith R. Baskin (University of Oregon)
"Confusing the Heavenly and Human Fathers: Rabbinic Power and Powerlessness in
BT Massekhet Ta’anit"
Julia Watts Belser (Missouri State University)
"In Front of the Text: Reading Self in Rabbinic Literature"
Serguei Dolgopolskii (University of Kansas, Lawrence)
"Literary Structure and Thematic Coherence in a Chapter of Bavli"
Devora Steinmetz (Independent Scholar)
"Jacob ibn Habib’s Critique of Medieval Intellectual Culture: A View of the Ein Yaakov through the Lens of the Talmud"
Marjorie S. Lehman (Jewish Theological Seminary)

Chair: Miriam Bodian (Touro College)
"Scripturalization of Rashi’s Torah Commentary in Late Medieval and Early Modern Times"
Eric Lawee (York University)
"Leon Modena as Reader and as Read"
Yaacob Dweck (Princeton University)
"A New Guide? The “Modern Maimonides” Motif in the Maskilic Reception of Spinoza"
Daniel B. Schwartz (George Washington University)
"Who Asks the Question? Rashi’s Constructed and Constructing Readers"
Devorah Schoenfeld (St. Mary’s College of Maryland)
Respondent: Adam B. Shear (University of Pittsburgh)

Sponsored by the Working Group on Jews, Religion, and Media, Center for Religion and Media,New York University
Chair: Ilana Abramovitch (Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY)
Discussants: Marcy Brink-Danan (Brown University)
Nathaniel Deutsch (Swarthmore College)
Janice Fernheimer (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)
Edward Portnoy (Rutgers University)
Brigitte Sion (New York University)
Chava Weissler (Lehigh University)

Sponsored by the Working Group on Jews, Religion, and Media, Center for Religion and Media,New York University
Chair: Andrea Lieber (Dickinson College)
Discussants: Ari Davidow (Jewish Women’s Archive)
Ayala Fader (Fordham University)
Samuel Heilman (Queens College, CUNY)
Emily Alice Katz (Jewish Th eological Seminary)
Elkanah Shmotkin (Jewish Educational Media)
Francesco Spagnolo (Judah L. Magnes Museum)

Hope to see some of you at these sessions. And please e-mail or comment if I missed any.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Nashim volume 16, special issue on Women and Books

Date: Mon, 17 Nov 2008 16:54:26 -0500
From: "Mendelsohn, Adam D"
Subject: TOC: Nashim, 16, Fall 2008

Subject: TOC for Nashim 16
Sent: Monday, November 17, 2008 12:02 PM

Consulting Editor: Wendy Zierler

Wendy Zierler, Introduction 5

Michael Riegler and Judith R. Baskin, =93May the Writer Be Strong=94:
Medieval Hebrew Manuscripts Copied by and for Women 9

Iris Parush, Gender, Penmanship and the Primacy of Speech
over Writing in the Jewish Society of Galicia and Eastern Europe
in the Second Half of the Nineteenth Century 29

Wendy Zierler, Hava Shapiro=92s Letters to Reuven Brainin 67

Hagit Cohen, The Demands of Integration=97The Challenges of
Ethnicization: Jewish Women=92s Yiddish Reading Circles
in North America between the Two World Wars 98

Eliyana R. Adler, Reading Rayna Batya:
The Rebellious Rebbetzin as Self-Reflection 130
Sheila E. Jelen, Women and Jewish Literature 153


Vincent Vilmain, A Woman within Zionism:
The Path of Myriam Schach (1867=961956) 174


Israeli Women=92s Leadership Today: A Panel Discussion 196

Resident Artist:
Judith Margolis, The Illuminations of Ellen Frank 215

Poems by Dahlia Ravikovitch, translated by Chana Bloch and
Chana Kronfeld 224

The Spectacular Difference: Selected Poems by Zelda,
translated with an Introduction and notes by Marcia Falk,
reviewed by Henny Wenkart 234

Eva Martin Sartori and Madeleine Cottenet-Hage (eds.),
Daughters of Sarah: Anthology of Jewish Women Writing in French,
reviewed by Paula E. Hyman 239

Edward Fram, My Dear Daughter: Rabbi Benjamin Slonik and the
Education of Jewish Women in Sixteenth-Century Poland,
reviewed by Moshe Rosman 242

Anne Lapidus Lerner, Eternally Eve: Images of Eve in the Hebrew Bible,
Midrash, and Modern Poetry, reviewed by Wendy Zierler 248

Ellen Frankel, The Five Books of Miriam:
A Woman=92s Commentary on the Torah,
reviewed by Aaron M. Singer 253

Call for Papers, Nashim no. 19
Women and Jewish Poetry 266

Call for Papers, Nashim no. 20
Jewish Women and Philanthropy 268

Contributors to This Issue 270

(taken from H-Judaic)

Monday, November 10, 2008

December 8-11 Anthony Grafton and Joanna Weinberg lectures on Isaac Casaubon

at Harvard University:

Monday - Thursday, December 8 - 11, various times:

The Carl Newell Jackson Classical Lectures Series:
"Isaac Casaubon: A Renaissance Hellenist Meets the Jews"
Anthony Grafton (Princeton University) and Joanna Weinberg (Oriental Institute, University of Oxford)

Lecture 1: "Rabbi Isaac Casaubon: A Hellenist Meets the Jews" Monday, 5:15PM
Lecture 2: "How Casaubon Read Jewish Texts" Tuesday, 5:30PM
Lecture 3: "Casaubon and Baronio: Early Christianity in a Jewish Setting" Wednesday, 5:15PM
Lecture 4: "The Teller and the Tale: What Casaubon Learned from Jews" Thursday, 5:15 PM
Reception to follow Lecture 4.

Sponsored by the Department of the Classics; Harvard University Cambridge MA - exact location TBD

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Lecture by Bettina Wagner on Munich Incunabula on Second Life

Reposted from SHARP-L:

Dear colleagues,

I would like to draw your attention to a presentation which I will hold in the virtual "island" of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Second Life (the "Insel der Information") on 25 November 2008.

Best wishes,
Bettina Wagner


Presentation at "Insel der Information", November 25th, 2008:
Bettina Wagner (SL: Bettina Ethaniel):
Incunable digitization at Munich: From the Gutenberg Bible to mass digitization

We would like to invite you to the SIM of the Bavarian State Library for a talk with the title "Incunable digitization at Munich: From the Gutenberg Bible to mass digitization".
The presentation will be held on 25/Nov/08, at 6pm CET, 9:00 AM SLT by Dr. Bettina Wagner in English and follows up a symposium organized by the Humanities Media Interface Project, Keio University, Tokyo, on 22 November in London, UK.
The talk will demonstrate how the Munich Gutenberg Bible is presented online and how users can search for descriptive information in the electronic catalogue, thus placing the Bible in various contexts, e.g. of 15th-century Bible production, of incunable illumination or of provenance. In addition, access points for printed illustrations in incunabula will be shown.

The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek Munich holds the world*s largest collection of incunabula, which currently amounts to c. 20.000 copies of c. 9700 editions. The Munich copy of the Gutenberg Bible is one of the most important treasures of the library. In cooperation with the HUMI team, the Bible was digitized in October 2005 and was made accessible freely on the internet.
In Munich, digitization of incunables and online access to the catalogue descriptions have proceeded in close parallel. The first digitization project started already in 1998 and focussed on illustrated incunabula; a project for the digitization of broadsides followed in 2000. At the same time, the printed incunable catalogue was converted into a database and made accessible online in 2004. The catalogue database serves as central access point to incunables and integrates all digital images as well as additional metadata generated in such projects. In 2008, a project for the complete digitization of the collection was begun, and eventually, as a complete electronic facsimile will be generated for every 15th-century edition now held in Munich. The results are not only made accessible through the incunable catalogue database, but also through the Bavarian union catalogue and the ISTC and GW databases.


Dr. Bettina Wagner
Abteilung fuer Handschriften und Alte Drucke
Bayerische Staatsbibliothek
Ludwigstr. 16
D-80539 Muenchen
Tel. +89 / 28638-2982
Fax. +89 / 28638-12982 oder 2266
postbox: D-80328 Muenchen

Inkunabelkatalog der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek (BSB-Ink) online:

Friday, October 31, 2008

Lecture Library of Congress: November 6

Israeli Comics: Past and Present
A illustrated lecture by Ofer Berenstein,
a graduate student at Bar-Ilan University in Israel
Cover art for The magnificent adventures of Dugi Libretzem, #2 by Hagai Giler
Thursday, November 6, 2008, at 1:00 P.M.
Montpelier Room, James Madison Building, 6th Floor
Sponsored by the Prints and Photographs Division, Serial and Government Publications Division
and the Hebraic Section of the African and Middle Eastern Division
Request ADA Accommodations five business days in advance at (202) 707-6362 TTY or
For further information, call Sara W. Duke at (202) 707-3630

Friday, October 10, 2008

Lecture at Library of Congress: Debra Band on The Song of Songs

The Hebraic Section
African and Middle Eastern Division
The Library of Congress
An Illustrated Lecture
Debra Band
“The Song of Songs:
The Honeybee in
The Garden”
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
12:00 – 1:00 PM
African and Middle Eastern Division Reading Room
220 Thomas Jefferson Building
101 Independence Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20540
Free and Open to the Public
For information: Peggy Pearlstein
(202) 707-3779 or
Request ASL and ADA accommodation 5 days in advance at (202) 707-6362 or

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Call for Papers: Special Issue of Postscripts

Inscriptions: A Special Issue of Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts and Contemporary Worlds
Special Issue editors:
Jeremy Stolow (Communication Studies, Concordia University, Canada)
Lisa Gitelman (History of Science, Harvard University)
Call for Papers
The title of this special journal issue, “Inscriptions,” is meant to draw attention to a muchneglected
topic in the study of sacred texts: their materiality. Our goal is to challenge a longstanding
‘discursive’ bias among scholars of literature and belief, whereby it is often assumed that the study of
texts is sufficiently exhausted through an examination of the authorial intentions and the interpretive
possibilities of linguistic utterances, with recourse to the well-honed tools of philology, hermeneutics,
psychoanalysis, narratology, or deconstructivist reading strategies. While recognizing the importance of
such work, we wish to approach texts by focussing instead on their physical properties, as well as the
dynamic interactions of devices, techniques, and habits that lie beneath and within a given text, helping to
define the conditions for its perceptual apprehension and bodily engagement.
For this special issue of Postscripts, we seek contributions that elaborate and extend our proposed
consideration of the materiality of sacred texts broadly considered, attending to such things as their
layout, their material substrate (leather, paper, computer screens, etc), or the relationships between sacred
texts and their complementary technologies of transportation, storage, indexing, artificial illumination, or
waste management. What are the connections between materiality and belief? How have new media
helped to reveal or to confound sacred matter? Are there historically and culturally specific pathways
from text to relic? While we wish to keep this call for papers as open as possible, we are especially
interested in papers that offer historical, ethnographic, archaeological, and/or material cultural analyses of
particular texts and their material environments.
Submission instructions:
Please send a short proposal (a title plus an abstract of circa 200 words), and a brief bio-note
(including your contact details) to All submissions received by 1 January
2009 are assured full consideration.
About the Journal:
Postscripts is a new, fully refereed journal devoted to the academic study of scripture around the globe.
The study of sacred texts has historically been a highly technical, specialized and elite practice, held in
preserve by religious authorities and professional scholars. As important as this technical and specialized
work is, it represents only a small proportion of the rich panoply of engagements with texts that are
foundational in the lives of individuals and communities around the world -- texts that travel under the
name of 'scripture' or 'sacred' text. Postscripts takes seriously a broad array of historical and
contemporary engagements with such texts and aims to open up the discussion of sacred texts by crossing
traditional boundaries, bringing different disciplinary tools to the process of analysis, and opening up a
sustained dialogue between and among scholars and others who are interested in religion, textuality,
media and mediation and the contemporary world.
For more information, visit Postscripts at: 􀀁

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Call for Papers: "Authority and the Book in Medieval Culture"

>The 26th Annual New England Medieval Studies
>Consortium Graduate Student Conference
>Yale University
>April 4, 2009.
>Theme: "Authority and the Book in Medieval Culture."
>Abstracts from graduate students are now being
>accepted for the 26th Annual New England
>Medieval Studies Consortium Graduate Student
>Conference, the theme of which will be "Authority and
>the Book in Medieval Culture."
>The organizers hope that this broad heading will
>elicit proposals for papers from all disciplines of
>Medieval Studies.
>Of especial interest are papers dealing with
>palaeography and manuscript studies; hagiography;
>literary studies; art history; history and
>historiography; gender studies; religious studies;
>musicology and medieval liturgical studies; as well as
>biblical exegesis and the relationship between Latin
>and various medieval vernaculars. Further, we look
>forward to receiving proposals that take more
>theoretical approaches to ideas of authority in the
>medieval period. We also hope to have one panel
>devoted to papers that explore different aspect of the
>history of modern Medieval Studies.
>Papers are to be no more than twenty minutes in length
>and read in English. Abstracts of no more than 250
>words should be sent by e-mail to
> or
>A hardcopy may be mailed to:
>Andrew Kraebel
>Department of English
>Yale University
>P.O. Box 208302
>New Haven, CT 06520-8302
>The deadline for submissions is December 1, 2008.
>Graduate students whose abstracts are selected for the
>conference will have the opportunity to submit their
>paper in its entirety for consideration for the Alison
>Goddard Elliott Award.
>The conference will also feature a plenary speaker, to
>be announced at a later date.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Perugia Geniza exhibit

More from the Italian Geniza here:

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Paul Saenger, Rosenbach Lectures

surely relevant to the Jewish book:

The 2008 Rosenbach Lectures in Bibliography

Paul Saenger, The Newberry Library, Chicago, Illinois

The Latin Bible as Codex

April 14: "Christian Versification"
April 15: "The Birth of Modern Chapters"
April 17: "The Printed Codex"

The distinguished scholar of medieval reading practices Paul Saenger
presents three lectures on the development of the medieval and early
printed Bible. Co-editor of the 1999 *The Bible as Book: The First
Printed Editions*, Saenger has also published *Space Between Words:
The Origins of Silent Reading* (1997) and the *Catalogue of the Pre-1500
Western Manuscript Books at the Newberry Library* (1989).

These lectures, free and open to the public, will start at 5:30 PM in
the Rosenwald Gallery, located on the 6th floor of Van Pelt-Dietrich
Library, 3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA. Entrance to the Library
is from Locust Walk (just north of the statue of the broken button).

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Printing the Talmud exhibition: Yeshiva University

This exhibition sponsored by Yeshiva University has an impressive website:

Lehmann Workshop at Penn

The official deadline has past, but if you are interested in this, you should contact the Jewish Studies prgram at UPenn to see if space is still available:

The Manfred R. Lehmann Memorial Master Workshop in the History of the Jewish Book
The Jewish Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania, in conjunction with the University of Pennsylvania Library and the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, are pleased to announce the eighth annual Manfred R. Lehmann Memorial Master Workshop to be held on May 11-12 (Sunday-Monday), 2008, at CAJS.

The subject of this year's Workshop will be From Manuscript to Print: Reading Colophons, Title Pages, and Other Paratexts. The workshop will be led by Professor Menachem Schmelzer of the Jewish Theological Seminary. Professor Schmelzer, former Director of the JTS Library, is one of the foremost experts on the Jewish book in the world. The two-day program will focus upon close readings of selected colophons in medieval Hebrew manuscripts, and title pages, authors' prefaces, printers' introductions, and approbations in books printed before 1700. Attention will be paid to the language of these paratexts, and to extracting the bibliographical, biographical, historical and textual information contained in them. The workshop will also cover the available bibliographical tools that can help in understanding and interpreting these texts as well as in utilizing them for scholarly purposes.

The workshop is open to professors and independent scholars, professional librarians in the field of Jewish and related studies, and graduate students in Jewish Studies. Attendance at previous workshops is not a prerequisite for admission.

Because much of the Workshop will be devoted to the reading of Hebrew texts like colophons, it is necessary that all participants be able to read non-vocalized Hebrew texts.

For faculty and professionals, tuition is $250. In addition to attendance and all materials for the workshop, the tuition includes two or three nights in a hotel (double-occupancy) for the nights of May 10 and 11 (with the option of May 9), and all meals and refreshments (all kosher) during the course of the workshop.

Graduate students may apply for a full scholarship to the workshop. N.B. To apply for the scholarship, a graduate student should write us giving the details of his or her academic program and a brief statement explaining how the workshop will further his or her academic studies. S/he should also ask a faculty advisor to write us a letter of recommendation on the student's behalf.

Attendance is limited. If you are interested in attending the workshop, please notify us immediately. Full payment and registration form must be received by March 15, 2008. Make checks payable to "Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania." Please address all correspondence to:

Lehmann Workshop
c/o Jewish Studies Program
711 Williams Hall
255 S. 36th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

The Manfred R. Lehmann Memorial Master Workshop in the History of the Jewish Book has been made possible by a generous contribution from the Manfred and Anne Lehmann Foundation along with grants from Mr. Albert Friedberg, the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation, Andrew H. Cohn, Esq. C'66, and the University of Pennsylvania Research Foundation.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

April 7: Steinschneider Event at JTS

Media Contact: Sherry S. Kirschenbaum
(212) 678-8953;
Library Talk to Celebrate the "Father of Modern Jewish Bibliography"
New York, NY, March 17, 2008­

Without a thorough and scientific bibliographical record of available printed and manuscript materials, research would be impossible.

The Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary will honor the centennial of the death of Moritz Steinschneider (1816-1907), the father of modern Hebrew bibliography and one of the founders of the "Science of Judaism" (Wissenschaft des Judentums). The event will take place at JTS, 3080 Broadway (at 122nd Street), New York City, and will include presentations by distinguished scholars and the opening of a small exhibition of Steinschneideriana that celebrates the remarkable achievements of this extraordinary scholar.

Steinschneider was one of the most prolific authors in the history of Jewish scholarship, publishing more than 1,400 books and articles on an astonishingly wide array of subjects in several languages. He helped lay the foundation for modern Jewish scholarship to such an extent that it may be said that all contemporary students of Jewish history and culture are his academic progeny. Among his many other scholarly activities, Steinschneider devoted himself to the preparation of library catalogs and subject bibliographies, enabling scholars to publish literary and cultural histories in many languages.

Steinschneider's library came into the possession of The Library in 1907, having been purchased and donated by the great philanthropist Jacob Schiff. His personal correspondence was received in 1934. Although most of Steinschneider's working library was consumed in the JTS Library fire of 1966, his personal correspondence, notes, papers, and annotated publications survived and are included in the exhibition.

Guest speakers will include Dr. Ismar Schorsch, chancellor emeritus of JTS, and Dr. Menahem Schmelzer, Albert B. and Bernice Cohen Professor Emeritus of Medieval Hebrew Literature and Jewish Bibliography at JTS. Following their presentations, discussion will be moderated by Dr. David Kraemer, Joseph J. and Dora Abbell Librarian at JTS.

Dr. Schorsch also holds the title of Rabbi Herman Abramovitz Professor of Jewish History. His most recent book, Canon Without Closure (March 2007, Aviv Press), is a wide-ranging collection of Torah commentaries written during his tenure as chancellor. In 2004, he published a two-volume collection of the articles and essays he wrote while chancellor titled Polarities in Balance, and in 1995, The Sacred Cluster: The Core Values of Conservative Judaism, a highly acclaimed monograph outlining the seven fundamental tenets of the movement. A top scholar in the field of modern Jewish history, he has addressed the important issue of modern Jewish scholarship as a central factor in the reconstruction of Jewish identity and self–presentation.

A full-time member of the JTS faculty since 1969 and associated with The Library since 1961, Dr. Schmelzer served as librarian from 1965 to 1987. His collected articles and lectures appeared in 2006 under the title Studies in Jewish Bibliography and Medieval Hebrew Poetry. Dr. Schmelzer was also associate division editor of the "Modern Jewish Scholarship" section of Encyclopaedia Judaica.

The talk is open to the community at no charge; reservations are required. For further information and to RSVP, please contact Hector Guzman at (212) 678-8075 or

Visit the JTS website at

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Another lecture at Penn

I am happy to post events and lectures outside the University of Pennsylvania as well...

Spinoza in the Library of an Early Modern Dutch Sephardic Rabbi
>>> Yosef Kaplan, Hebrew University
>>> Wednesday, February 20, 5:00PM, Logan Hall 402
>>> Rabbi David Nunes Torres had been the rabbi of one of the Sephardic
>>> congregations in The Hague at the beginning of the eighteenth
>>> century.
>>> About three months after his death in 1728, his impressive library,
>>> which contained more than 2,000 volumes in eight languages, was put
>>> up for sale. Some of the large blocs that comprise this library
>>> reflect in the clearest fashion the intellectual ferment of Nunes
>>> Torres'
>>> generation and his purposeful and sophisticated collection of books
>>> made him, willy-nilly, a secret agent of the early enlightenment in
>>> the Sephardic Diaspora of Western Europe, and even in Dutch society
>>> at large.
>>> Yosef Kaplan is the Bernard Cherrick Professor of Jewish History at
>>> the Hebrew University. His books include: An Alternative Path to
>>> Modernity; Judios Nuevos en Amsterdam; The Western Sephardi
>>> Diaspora; From Christianity to Judaism: The Story of Isaac Orobio de
>>> Castro; and a translation (with introduction and notes) of Isaac
>>> Cardoso's, Las Excelencias de los Hebreos. He has edited and
>>> co-edited 14 books, among
>>> them: The Dutch Intersection: The Jews and the Netherlands in Modern
>>> History; Fins de Siecle -- End of Ages; Dutch Jews as Perceived by
>>> Themselves and by Others; Menasseh ben Israel and His World, and
>>> Jews and Conversos. Studies in Society and the Inquisition.
>>> Kaplan is the former Director of the School of History at the Hebrew
>>> University and former editor of Tarbiz and Zion. He was awarded the
>>> A.
>>> Wiznitzer Prize and the Ben Zvi Prize, and in 2004 he was elected
>>> fellow of the Israel Academy for Sciences and Humanities. He is
>>> currently a fellow at Princeton University's Institute for Advanced
>>> Study.
>>> Part of the Jewish Studies Kutchin Faculty Seminar Series, and
>>> co-sponsored by the Department of History. Event is free and open to
>>> the public. No RSVP necessary. Questions? 215-898-6654 or
>>> --Beth S. Wenger Katz Family Term Chair
>>> in American Jewish History Associate Professor of History Director,
>>> Jewish Studies Program
>>> Department of History
>>> University of Pennsylvania
>>> 208 College Hall
>>> Philadelphia, PA 19104-6379
>>> Phone: 215-898-5702
>>> Fax: 215-573-2089
>>> E-mail:

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

World Congress of Jewish Studies: Call for Proposals

Dear Colleagues,

The Fifteenth World Congress of Jewish Studies will take place from August 2-6 of 2009. If there is sufficient interest I would like to organize a session on “The Jewish Book in Early Modern Europe.” I have left the theme deliberately vague so as to allow for submissions on authors and their texts, printing, distribution and the ultimate fate of the books produced. (I am open to narrowing the focus of the session theme). I was thinking of speaking on Christian awareness of Hebrew printed books, specifically on Conrad Gesner’s Bibliotheca universalis (3 vols., 1545-1555). While Gesner’s listings are not very extensive, they did provide enough titles to form the basis for a meaningful Christian encounter with Judaism by way of its classical texts.

If I have read the call for papers correctly we will all have to submit a preliminary registration form, and I would also submit materials for a complete session, providing the following information:

“Those interested in proposing a complete session (up to four lectures) are requested to specify the subject of the session and the names of the scholars whose agreement to participate has already been obtained. A brief explanation and a short abstract of the proposed lectures should also be submitted.”

So I would need paper topics and short abstracts from each presenter before I turn in all of the information. The submission deadline is May 18, 2008.
Are there any takers?

Best wishes,
Stephen Burnett
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


I would be very happy to post notices of seminars, lectures, workshops, conferences, etc. related to Jewish books. Send them my way--ashear at pitt dot edu--and I will post them here.

Here is one:

University of Pennsylvania
Material Texts seminar, Monday, February 11 at
5:15 pm in the Lea Library on the 6th floor of Van Pelt Library:

Yaacob Dweck (University of Pennsylvania):

"Jewish Scribal Culture in an Age of Print: The Writing Practices of Leon

Yaacob writes: "This presentation will examine the composition and
circulation of manuscripts in early modern Venice through the writings of
Leon Modena (157-1648). Modena, a rabbi and intellectual who lived in
Venice, composed several Hebrew polemics in the last decades of his life.
None of these texts, which included attacks on Kabbalah, Christianity, and
the belief in metempsychosis, appeared in print before the nineteenth
century. Using Modena's critique of Kabbalah, a work called Ari Nohem
(Heb. A Roaring Lion) I will focus on two issues: the nature of an
autograph in the early seventeenth century and the importance placed on
the material form of various texts in Modena's argument. In the first
part, I will examine Modena's writing practices and demonstrate that he
wrote his works in collaboration with an amanuensis, a practice typical
for Jewish and Christian intellectuals writing in Venice in the early
seventeenth century. In the second part, I will examine Ari Nohem as a
reflection upon the effects of printing on the transmission of Jewish
knowledge. In Ari Nohem Modena decries the effects of printing upon the
dissemination of Kabbalah, the adjudication of Jewish law, and the
accessibility of knowledge to a wider range of people. I hope
to demonstrate that the scribal aspects of Ari Nohem not only inform the
immediate working environment of the book's author, but also the content
of the work."

Yaacob Dweck is a fifth-year graduate student in history at Penn.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Heidi Lerner's Comments for the Working Group Meeting

Heidi Lerner

Jewish Books and the Academic Library

I was honored to be invited to join the Working Group on the History of the Jewish Book. I am not able to attend AJS this year but have sent in a few words that hopefully will add some perspectives on the relations between academic libraries and the study of the Jewish book. I look forward to continuing and expanding our conversation at next year’s AJS.
Universities and colleges throughout Europe, Israel and North America have collected in their libraries and made accessible Jewish books since the 1700s. They hired and retained specially trained staff that selected materials, and developed classification, indexing and cataloging methods to organize these items systematically. Catalogs of these institutions reflect the holdings that support the study of Jewish religion, history, society, politics, languages, culture and literature.
During the past two decades rapidly evolving electronic and information technologies have been and are actively changing scholarly research in Jewish Studies. The current and new generations of Jewish Studies scholars and academics must be prepared for these changes or face the consequences of not keeping up with them. University libraries as repositories and Jewish Studies librarians, as information specialists are uniquely equipped to help scholars integrate traditional and new resources into their research methodologies.
Jewish Studies scholars have traditionally relied on printed or paper-based tools to carry out their research. Electronic versions of our textual legacy are becoming increasingly important. Previous decades saw the appearance of digital literary collections on CD-ROM. Today, universities, libraries, archives, and other institutions and organizations are digitizing print versions of Judaica-related books and mounting them on the web. These collections contain searchable or non-searchable images from printed editions, or keyed-in digital texts. Some notable examples emanating from university libraries are the Yiddish Prints Collection at the Universitatsbibliothek Frankfurt am Main, the Jewish National and University Library Digitized Book Repository, the University of Pennsylvania/Cambridge Genizah Fragment Project and the Bibliotheca Rosenthalia’s holdings of works by Manasseh ben Israel. Academic librarians have been the main ones in their institutions who decide which texts get digitized or consult with faculty on selecting bodies of materials for electronic preservation and dissemination. Of course mass digitization projects undertaken by companies such as Google are taking the decision-making out of the hands of librarians and faculty in participating institutions, except for where rare or very fragile materials are concerned. Librarians also determine how access to internal and external collections of digital materials is made available to their university library patrons.
Scholars and other individuals are turning to digital technologies to create new editions of classic texts and also “digitally born” editions of new books. Zachary Baker, Reinhard Family Curator of Judaica and Hebraica Collections at Stanford University has recently accessioned into the Stanford University Libraries collection and had cataloged for its library online catalog: the “Ladino Digital Library”, a corpus of new electronic editions of printed Ladino texts and the “Zohar Pritzker edition, Aramaic Text Online.” Also recently “added” to the Stanford library’s collections is “Rabanim She-nisifu Ba-Sho’ah”, an electronic text written and published on the Internet in 2007 in an HTML format by Peninah Maizlish. The catalog records for these items have also been added to OCLC WorldCat which is becoming a de-facto union catalog for printed and electronic Judaica and Hebraica texts.
Universities continue to collect and scholars continue to use printed books. Stanford adds approximately 60,000 new printed volumes to its collections each year. University libraries receive regular and ongoing acquisitions from vendors in the area of Jewish Studies based on selection profiles developed by bibliographers who understand and anticipate the research needs of their institution’s faculty and students. Jewish Studies librarians are always on the lookout for specialized textual materials which make a university’s Judaica and Hebraica collections even more unique. Stanford has acquired in recent years, the Eliasaf Robinson Collection on Tel Aviv, a heterogeneous body of printed works (books, journals, posters and other ephemera), archival documents and pictorial materials on the founding and early history of Tel Aviv, and the historic Hebrew Library of Copenhagen's Jewish community.
But with the ongoing acquisition of physical items, university libraries are under increasing pressure to find ways to store their holdings and to make room for new materials. In many cases they are building onsite and offsite high-density storage facilities to accommodate growing print collections. Librarians must come up with the best strategies and solutions to buffer the expectations and needs of faculty and students against the requirements of university administrations.
The role of the university library and librarians in supporting and providing access to Judaica and Hebraica textual materials in a variety of formats is crucial. They are uniquely placed to think about and decide how and where users can access library collections, monitor the use of these collections, decide what is and is not collected, think about how and where these materials are stored, how much cataloging and indexing is provided, and how and what to preserve within library collections.
Thank you for allowing me to add these few words. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact me at any time.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Summary of Working Group meeting in Toronto

As promised, here is a report on our meeting in Toronto at the Association for Jewish Studies conference.

Our chair, Joe Davis (Gratz College), was snowed out, so we chaired ourselves, as it were. I began by describing how the meeting had come about. At a conference on the Jewish book at the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania in May 2006, David Stern (University of Pennsylvania) had lamented the lack of institutional frameworks for the study of Jewish books. At the time, Joe Davis, David Stern, and I talked a little about organizing something to promote the field. Before this year's AJS call for papers deadline, Hindy Najman (Toronto), Jeremy Stolow (McMaster), and Heidi Lerner (Stanford) joined the discussion, and this lunch-time meeting was the result.

David Stern then spoke about some of the problems and prospects for the field, noting very few opportunities to study Hebrew bibliography and codicology. He also pointed out the advantages of using material texts in pedagogy.

Hindy Najman then spoke from the perspective of a scholar of Judaism in late antiquity and discussed the issue of the "book" in a pre-book culture. On the one hand, she pointed out that medieval and early modern studies generate interesting questions about the role of written texts that can be used to interrogate and investigate the ancient period. She also pointed out that books seemed to have played a role in the Jewish imagination before physical books (codices) were used.

Jeremy Stolow spoke from the perspective of someone in communication studies focusing on the question of the role of the medium. He pointed out the ways in which communication scholars research not only the means of production and transmission of texts, but also the interaction of the "end-user" with the medium.

I spoke from my perspective as a cultural and intellectual historian, focused on early modern Jews and pointed out the importance of integrating the study of books as both texts and material objects into more general historical research. While many in Jewish studies have examined the materiality of books to assess the "reliability" of the texts inside, I suggested that we need to not only look at what's inside, but also at the vessel (cf. Mishnah Avot 4:20).

I also summarized remarks by Heidi Lerner (who could not be in Toronto). Her remarks were from the point of view of a librarian and she emphasized the role of academic libraries in mediating access to texts in both electronic and paper forms. She emphasized the importance of digital resources in research and teaching but also the continued relevance of printed materials.

After this remarks, the discussion turned toward practical steps that might be taken in the future to promote the study of the "Jewish book."

(This blog was one of the suggestions.)

David Kraemer (of the Jewish Theological Seminary) was going to join the meeting to discuss a new journal, "Quntress: An Online Journal for the History, Art, and Culture of the Jewish Book." He could not be at the meeting but we discussed this journal and the important contribution it is expected to make to the field.

Miriam Bodian (Touro College) suggested that someone propose a review essay to AJS Review or another journal laying out the state of the field.

Many participants expressed an interest in planning sessions on the Jewish book at the Association for Jewish Studies and other meetings.

Susan Einbinder (Hebrew Union College) pointed out that there are sessions devoted to the history of the book at the annual Congress on Medieval Studies held at Kalamazoo every May. Those interested in participating in those sessions should contact her.

Another venue discussed was the American Academy of Religion. The coordinators of the Study of Judaism section are Aryeh Cohen (American Jewish University) and Martin Kavka (Florida State University). Those interested in proposing a session on the history of the Jewish book at AAR should contact them.

Finally, Vivian Mann (JTS) and Jane Trigere (independent scholar) both reminded the group to focus on decorative and aesthetic aspects of Jewish books, Jane Trigere suggested that we bring into the conversation people who make books as well as those who study them.

That's a rough summary of the meeting. No formal action was taken--no constitutions were drawn up, nobody was elected to anything, etc. I volunteered to create a blog and post this summary.

The blog is here to facilitate discussion and action. Use the comments as you see fit.

Also feel free to send me announcements or remarks suitable for separate posts--calls for papers, announcements of programs and events, etc.

Respectfully submitted,

Adam Shear