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Purim in Villejuif, 1947

March 2nd, 2015 by Libraryblog

Enright Villejuif PurimThe photograph of a smiling boy in a clown suit looks like it could have been taken in any Jewish community in the world in 1947. However, the smiling child is a miracle – a Holocaust survivor. The illustration is the cover of a scrapbook of a Purim celebration in the children’s home in Villejuif, France, in 1947. The home in Villejuif was run by the Rescue Children, Inc. organization. Rescue Children maintained centers for children who survived World War II. The staff nurtured the children in body and spirit, providing Jewish education and helping them adjust to life after war. The organization tried to locate the children’s relatives and succeeded in uniting many families.

This scrapbook is from the Maurice Enright Papers. Enright was an American businessman who traveled to France several times after World War II on behalf of Rescue Children. He and his family adopted a young girl from one of the homes, and she donated his collection to the Yeshiva University Archives, which also houses the Rescue Children collection.

Posted by Shulamith Z. Berger

Sefer Imre Barukh

February 4th, 2015 by Libraryblog

Sefer Imre BarukhSefer Imre Barukh: tokef ha-minhag ba-halakhah, by Rabbi Baruch Simon. Machon Be’er HaTorah, 2015.

Rabbi Baruch Simon’s latest publication is an erudite study of the general principles that guide Jewish custom and contains fascinating discussions of specific customs relating to many different areas of Jewish practice. Some of the topics covered include: family customs, conflicts over proper practice between different groups within a community, and the observance of a second day of Yom Tov in the diaspora. Rabbi Simon’s clarity and organization make these disparate and wide-ranging discussions enriching and edifying for the seasoned student and accessible and meaningful even to the non-expert.

Posted by Moshe Schapiro.

The Last Minute

December 22nd, 2014 by Libraryblog

DSCN4496On Monday evening December 15th, starting at 8:00 PM, the Library hosted “The Last Minute,” a four-hour pilot event designed to assist individual students with end-of-semester research projects and term papers.  Librarians and Writing Center Tutors were on hand on the third floor of the Mendel Gottesman Library Building for one-on-one consultation with students. The event marked a first time collaboration between the Library and the Wilf Writing Center, with support from the Student Life Committee and the Yeshiva College Student Association.   Writing Center tutors from both campuses contributed to the evening’s success.

More than eighty students from both the Wilf and Beren Campuses took advantage of this Last Minute opportunity and sought help during the four hour event.

Posted by Pearl Berger.


Dual Identity Dreidel?

December 16th, 2014 by Libraryblog

dreidel cropThis dreidel, comprised of the letters “Y” and “U,” was presented to the Yeshiva University Archives several years ago, by Miriam Berman, a graduate of Stern College for Women. While the letters “Y” and “U” presumably stand for Yeshiva University, the traditional letters on this dreidel: “nun,” “gimel,” “heh,” and “peh,” indicate that it was created in Israel. Was it distributed at a Yeshiva University event in Israel? Where? When?

We welcome your input. Please e-mail archives@yu.edu

Posted by Shulamith Z. Berger

Linda Miles To Head ACRL/NY

December 10th, 2014 by Libraryblog

lmilesDr. Linda Miles, Public Services Librarian at Yeshiva’s Pollack Library, will become President of the Association of College and Research Libraries New York Chapter on January 1, 2015. As Vice President-President Elect of ACRL/NY, Linda recently chaired its 2014 annual symposium, The Academic Librarian in the Open Access Future. “ACRL/NY is a wonderful organization,” notes Linda, “providing first-rate professional development and networking opportunities to academic librarians from across the tri-state region. I look forward to taking on this new leadership role.” In her capacity as Public Services Librarian, Linda coordinates the library’s information literacy program and teaches research skills. She works closely with the First Year Writing and First Year Seminar programs at Yeshiva College.

Posted by Pearl Berger.

Thanksgiving 1905

November 25th, 2014 by Libraryblog

thanksgiving001aIn 1905, the 250th anniversary of Jewish settlement in New Amsterdam was commemorated on the Sabbath before Thanksgiving.  A committee on “Form of Prayer,” led by Reverend Dr. Henry Pereira Mendes, was tasked with creating a service for the occasion.  The choice of Mendes was appropriate, and perhaps deliberate, since he was the spiritual leader of Congregation Shearith Israel / the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue – the mother of all American congregations, dating back to 1654.

The committee published a pamphlet, in Hebrew and English, with selected Psalms and a prayer composed for the occasion.  This pamphlet is housed in Yeshiva University Library’s Rare Book Room.  Hebrew and English excerpts follow:

ועתה אלקינו מודים אנחנו לך ומהללים לשם תפארתך על שהחייתנו וקימתנו ליום הזה. כי ברחמיך הרבים שמת שם ושארית לרבים מבני סגולתך להחיות לנו לפליטה גדולה בארץ הזאת אשר בחסד ה‘ עליה נהיית למעון הצדק והמשפט אשר בה יבקשו העשוקים והנרדפים מפלט למו.   גדול העצה ורב העלילה לך יאתה תהלה כי נחית מתי מספר מעמך זה לפני שתי מאות וחמשים שנה אל הארץ הברוכה הזאת אשר בה יוכלו לעבד אותך באין מפריע.  … והיה ה‘  למלך על כל הארץ ביום ההוא יהיה ה‘  אחד ושמו אחד, אמן.

“Everlasting G-d …we lift up our hearts in gratitude to Thee, in that two hundred and fifty years ago Thou didst guide a little band of Israel’s children who, seeking freedom to worship Thee, found it in a land which, with Thy blessing, became a refuge of freedom and justice for the oppressed of all peoples. … May all hearts serve Thee with one accord and recognize that Thou art One and Thy Name is One. Amen.”

Rev. Dr. Mendes served as an instructor of homiletics at RIETS from 1917 to 1920, and addressed its 1919 Chag HaSemicha which was celebrated at his synagogue, Congregation Shearith Israel, on Central Park West.

Posted by Shulamith Z. Berger

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Sefer Yismah Lev

November 20th, 2014 by Libraryblog

Shmuel-MaybruchSefer Yismah Lev, by Shmuel Yosef Maybruch. Machon Be’er HaTorah, 2014.

Sefer Yismah Lev on tractate Hulin and related issues in Shulhan Arukh Yoreh De’ah is the first published work by Rabbi Shmuel Maybruch, lecturer in the Stone Beit Midrash Program at Yeshiva University. Topics include ritual slaughter and the prohibition of milk and meat mixtures as well as other issues relating to the laws of kashruth. Each essay displays clear, precise erudition and penetrating analysis which will be appreciated by those studying these fundamental areas of Jewish Law.

Posted by Moshe Schapiro.

Historic Synagogue Bulletins to be Available Online through Grant Awarded YU Libraries

October 28th, 2014 by Libraryblog

Shovuoth BulletinFor many decades prior to our digital era, printed bulletins were the key means used by synagogues to communicate with their memberships and through which these institutions represented themselves to their broader communities. The bulletins regularly featured minutes of synagogue meetings, summaries of club and committee activities, news and opinion pieces on Jewish and community issues, and sermon excerpts and seasonal and holiday essays from clergy. They also contained brief public service announcements, event notices and local advertisements. As such, synagogue bulletins provide a valuable window into their parent organizations’ mission, philosophy and activities, as well as into the local community in which they participated.

Yeshiva University Archives’ historic collections include records of various American synagogues, many of which contain these important publications. The Archives has been awarded a grant to digitize approximately 2,000 individual issues dating from the early 1920s, published by five Modern Orthodox synagogues. The synagogues are Congregation Beth Hillel-Beth Israel, Institutional Synagogue, Lincoln Square Synagogue, Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, and Young Israel of Parkchester. The grant, awarded by the Metropolitan New York Library Council (Metro) as part of its program to expand access to Metropolitan New York historic and rare cultural heritage materials, will enable this collection to be made freely available online for study and research through the Libraries’ Digital Library. The project should be completed in fall 2015.

Posted by Deena M. Schwimmer

The Genesis of Scholarly Bible Studies at Yeshiva

October 21st, 2014 by Libraryblog


Chaim Heller

Rabbi Dr. Chaim Heller

As we begin a new cycle of Torah reading, discussion of various ways to study Tanakh is fitting. Rabbi Dr. Bernard Revel, the visionary Rosh Yeshiva of RIETS and President of Yeshiva College, expressed his views on Bible criticism in a letter dated April 10, 1929. Never one to mince words, he described Bible criticism as a threat to Jews and Judaism. Rather than ignoring the challenge, he took action to confront it head-on.    He appointed Rabbi Dr. Chaim Heller as a professor of Bible at Yeshiva. Heller was the founder of the Bet Midrash Elyon in Berlin, where Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik studied in the 1920s.  Revel wrote to Bernard London, a Yeshiva College trustee, to thank him for providing the funding to bring Dr. Heller to Yeshiva and to explain the importance of this educational endeavor.

In Revel’s words:

“The Bible is the source of all Universal Israel has been, has achieved, and has given to the world; it is the very essence of our spiritual and religious being, and the greatest single influence in human progress. Non-Jewish theologians, unwilling to concede mankind’s debt to Israel for the Bible, have during the past century of ‘scientific’ anti-semitism subjected it to violent attacks, denying its Mosaic authorship and its trustworthiness; so that in non-Jewish circles so-called ‘higher criticism’ of the Bible has become a sure mark of scholarship, and even scholars among us cannot resist the temptation of joining this ‘higher criticism’ which often masks a ‘higher anti-semitism’. Some among the heads of our theological seminaries go even further than the Gentile scholars, in assailing the authenticity of the Bible.

This higher criticism, which threatens the very foundations of Jewish spiritual and religious life, cannot be ignored. We must meet the attacks of these enemies of the Bible, within or outside of our ranks, on their own ground, with their own weapons.  We must meet with constructive criticism the destructive Bible-criticism of those misguided – for I will not say malicious – critics. Julius Wellhausen, prophet of this higher criticism, is almost canonized by some Jewish scholars themselves. Torah-Jewry, of which the Yeshiva is the lighthouse in this land, can no longer permit this misrepresentation of what is our very life, our exalted contribution to mankind.

Several Jewish scholars have recently taken up the war for God and his Torah. Foremost among them is Dr. Chaim Heller, Biblical and Rabbinic scholar of the first rank, whose researches in the field of ancient Biblical Versions have proved the worthlessness of some of the fantastic theories of these Bible critics, meeting them as an equal, with a complete critical apparatus, and with love and zeal for God.

It is manifest how valuable such a scholar and influence are to the home of learning, the Yeshiva, from which our spiritual leaders, who are to spread the knowledge of the Bible and be prepared to answer questions and criticisms in regard to it. There are, at the Yeshiva, students already equipped, with knowledge of the Bible and ancient languages, to do constructive scholarly work with Professor Heller.” 

Heller indeed came to Yeshiva in 1929 and was associated with it until his death in 1960.

Revel’s complete letter to London, from the Revel Papers in the Yeshiva University Archives, may be read here:

 Revel to London 5-3-28 page 1 web     

 Revel to London 5-3-28 page 2 web




Posted by Shulamith Z. Berger



“Blow the Shofars of Freedom” – Rosh Hashanah 1980

September 18th, 2014 by Libraryblog


Blow the Shofars of Freedom SSSJ September 1980

Blow the Shofars of Freedom SSSJ September 1980

In September 1980 the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry (SSSJ) called for a massive symbolic shofar blowing ceremony at the Soviet UN Mission. SSSJ sent letters to rabbis immediately before Rosh Hashanah, urging them to encourage congregants to join the gathering to protest an 85% decrease in Soviet Jewish emigration during the previous year.  SSSJ press releases noted that “the shofar blasts … symbolize calls to introspection and to action…” and will “call attention to this potential catastrophe – the closing of the gates just as we beseech G-d to keep them open.”   The phrase “Blow the Shofars of Freedom,” seen on a poster in the photograph of the event, references the blessing in the Shemonah Esreh prayer on the gathering of the exiles – a fitting slogan for the SSSJ. 

   תקע בשופר גדול לחרותנו ושא נס לקבץ גלויותינו 

The photograph is from the SSSJ Records in the Yeshiva University Archives.

Posted by Shulamith Z. Berger