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Archive for the ‘Jewish Life’ Category

Monument to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin, Germany, May, 2008

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“Is bibliophilia a religious impulse? You can’t walk into Sotheby’s exhibition space in Manhattan right now and not sense the devotion or be swept up in its passions and particularities. The 2,400-square-foot opening gallery is lined with shelves — 10 high — reaching to the ceiling, not packed tight, but with occasional books open to view. Each shelf is labeled, not with a subject, but with a city or town of origin: Amsterdam, Paris, Leiden, Izmir, Bombay, Cochin, Cremona, Jerusalem, Ferrara, Calcutta, Mantua, Shanghai, Alexandria, Baghdad and on and on.

“These 13,000 books and manuscripts were primarily collected by one man, Jack V. Lunzer, who was born in Antwerp in 1924, lives in London and made his fortune as a merchant of industrial diamonds. . . . But this endeavor is not just an exercise in bibliophilia. These are all books written in Hebrew or using Hebrew script, many of them rare or even unique. Most come from the earliest centuries of Hebrew printing in their places of origins and thus map out a history of the flourishing of Jewish communities around the world. . . .

“The collection, named after the Italian town that Mr. Lunzer’s family has long been associated with, is known as the Valmadonna Trust Library. Sotheby’s has put it on sale as a single collection. Through next Thursday it is being handsomely displayed to the public, while luring the large institutional libraries and collectors who might be prepared to pay at least $40 million for what Sotheby’s, echoing scholars in the field, describes as ‘the finest private library of Hebrew books and manuscripts in the world.'” (more @ NY Times)

A video tour of The Valmadonna Trust Library can be viewed here.

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“The pain caused by Bernard Madoff will be lasting and felt by a great many people. There can be little doubt that the method by which he used his Jewish identity to worm his way into the confidence of many Jewish investors and charities will be among the most memorable aspects of his villainy. But those concerned about the future of American Jewry have far more pressing worries than the money Madoff stole and lost or the ammunition he might have given to anti-Semites. The real question is whether, at a time when resources are growing relatively scarce, the American Jewish community will finally take the full measure of the threat to its long-term survival and husband its straitened resources to address that threat openly, honestly, and effectively.”

(via Commentary)

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Tenement building, with ghosts of former occupants, in former Jewish Ghetto, Warsaw, Poland, May 2008

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Felix Nussbaum, Le Réfugié (The Refugee), 1939

“Is there a Jewish art?” Harold Rosenberg asked at New York’s Jewish Museum in 1966. “They build a Jewish Museum, then ask: ‘Is there a Jewish art?’ Jews!”

(via Financial Times)

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“Milton Parker, who brought long lines and renown to the Carnegie Deli in Manhattan with towering pastrami sandwiches and a voluble partner who kibitzed with common folk and celebrities alike, died in Queens on Friday. He was 90 and lived in Manhattan. . . .

‘In the history of delicatessens, Milton Parker’s Carnegie Deli caused more heartburn to the Jewish world than anything I’ve ever heard of,’ Freddie Roman, the veteran borscht belt comedian, said this week on the savethedeli Web site. ‘His pastrami sandwich was incredibly much too large for human consumption.’” (via NY Times)

[Parker was born the same year as my father and both grew up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Parker’s passing reminds me of my father’s frequent boasts of having served in the same Army battalion as the owner of the Pastrami King, the venerable Queens Boulevard delicatessen that my father proudly referred to as the “Carnegie of Queens.”]

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