Sunday, July 31, 2016

Recent Acquisition at Mizrahi Bookstore: The Albert and Tammy Latner Jewish Public Library of Toronto

Mizrahi Booksore is proud to announce it's recent acquisition of the Albert and Tammy Latner Jewish Public Library in Toronto, consisting of approximately 50,000 Jewish Books, Periodicals and Newspapers.

The Latner Library, founded by Ben Zion Hyman in the 1930s, began as an independent library located in the bookstore of Hyman, until 1941 when the public library was formally established and moved to a set of rooms in the College Street and Spadina Avenue area in the 1940s. It then moved to the intersection of Markham Street and Harbord Street and then Glen Park and Glenmount Avenues. In 1983, it settled in its final location in the Lipa Green Building at 4600 Bathurst Street.

The library closed in 2008, “due to a lack of resources and a decline in circulation of books being taken out”. The books were carefully stored for 8 years awaiting an institution or library to acquire them, but no such opportunity availed itself, unfortunately. Mizrahi Bookstore has now acquired the library, and we are in the process of finding good homes for each of the books in the collection.

The library consists of an excellent collection and very wide range of Jewish interests. All the classics you would expect are present, as well as endless fine scholarly works, and many unusual titles. Local publications and periodicals are a strong point as well, with full runs of many Journals and Newspapers rarely seen.

The books are now in NY at our storefront and have been shelved in our newly expanded upper level of the store, visitors are more than welcome to browse and enjoy. With the numerous closures of Jewish public libraries, and the changing habits of the book reader in the modern age, there has never been a more crucial time to build your personal collection. Gone are the days when you would travel hours on a train to a library and spend what felt like eternity roaming the stacks of books. In an era when we must steal time to hide from our devices and read a book, our books must be near and dear to us, thus the importance of a home library. All are welcome to visit our store and develop your interests among our 150,000 books now in stock.

Many thanks to Dara Solomon, Bill Gladstone, Mariana Botezatu, Peter Oliver, Barry Sullivan and the endless other people who assisted in the transport of the book, without whom this would have been impossible.

A glimpse at our upper level, housing the Latner Collection

A glimpse at our upper level, housing the Latner Collection

A glimpse at our upper level, housing the Latner Collection
A glimpse at our upper level, housing the Latner Collection

Article in Ami Magazine about Mizrahi Bookstore

For those of you who haven't seen it yet, there was an article recently in Ami Magazine about Mizrahi bookstore, which you can read below. Many thanks to Yossi Krausz for his excellent writing and to the photographer who managed to get some nice photos despite the organized chaos here.

On the scarcity of books in the Displaced Persons Camps in Germany חוסר הספרים במחנות הפליטים

I recently came across an interesting letter written by a David Friedman in a Displaced Person Camp run by UNRRA in 1946. Describing the dire situation in the camps and asking for assistance, Friedman also writes אנחנו סובלים פה חוסר ספרים. מקום דירתנו פה ב"ה טוב, מי יתן שיהיה כמו כן בארץ..
"we suffer here from the scarcity of books. Our apartment here is is thank g-d good, if only it shall be as such in the holy land.."

Mentioned in the letter are the Pupa Rebbe, and Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak Neiman.

Hat-tip: J. Djmal

Aaron Stefansky, Jewish Philanthropist and Bookseller extraordinaire 1965-2016

Aaron was a son of Rabbi Eliezer Stenfansky. His father, Rav Leizer, is a mashgiach at Beth Medrash Govoah in Lakewood, NJ.

Aaron was a living legend in the world of Jewish Bookselling, and a fixture at the numerous Judaica auctions he attended. Aaron is credited in having a large part in the development and expansion of the rare book market and his knowledge and expertise were instrumental in the building of some of the finest collections of Judaica in the world today. Many of the fine libraries in existence today, were built under his guidance. Always willing to help, endless people have benefited from his generosity from both his knowledge and financially, and endless charitable causes were supported through his philanthropy.

Salo "Sal" Kluger August 21, 1946 - July 14, 2016 Jewish Bookseller and Yiddishist

SALO "SAL" KLUGER passed away on Thursday, July 14, 2016, at home. He was 69.
Born in a D. P. Camp in Weiden, Germany, the family later settled in Lynn, MA. Sal met his wife of 47 years, Myrna (Glazer) Kluger, as a fellow student at Northeastern University in Boston, MA. In recent years, Sal collected and dealt with items related to Yiddish Culture, American Jewish History, Jewish Music and related fields and was known and loved by all. His knowledge of Jewish Folk history was phenomenal, and he was always a pleasure to deal with. Endless artifacts from the Borscht Belt, the Lower East Side and long forgotten Jewish Communities were preserved by Sal through his endless efforts. With the passing of Sal, the Jewish Community has lost one of it's guardians of it's heritage, תנצב"ה.

An unusual Pair of Approbations in the book Helkenu Betoratecha by R. Zvi Hirsch Friedman

In חלקנו בתורתיך Helkenu Betoratecha, published in 1951, authored by R. Zvi Hirsch Friedman, we find published 2 approbations in the book that seem like a very odd pair. In the beginning of the book appears a letter from R. Yoel Teitelbaum, the Satmar Rebbe and at end of the book appears a letter from Abraham Joshua Heschel, one of the leading Jewish theologians and Jewish philosophers of the 20th century and a Conservative Rabbi. 

R. Zevi Hirsch Friedman learned by the Kidushat Yom Tov of Sighet (R. Hananiah Yom Tov Lipa of Sighet) and the Arugat ha-Bosem of Hust. He was the Av Bet Din of האטסעג, and later resided in Brooklyn

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