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

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