jewish national & university libraryjewish national & university libraryjewish national & university library Huberman

  • Issue: September 1992
  • Designer: D. Ben-Dov
  • Stamp size: 30.8 x 40 mm
  • Plate no.: 161 - 163
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: E. Lewin-Epstein Ltd.
  • Method of printing: Offset

The first to broach the concept of a national library for the Jewish people was Joshua Hesne, Lewin of Volozhin, who in 1872 issued a call "to establish a library which shall become a focal point in which the books of our people shall be collected - not one shah be lacking"

The objective of the members of the Jerusalem Lodge of B'nai B'rith. too, who founded the Midrash Abrabanel Library in 1892, was to establish "a central library for Jewish literature and for all works relevant to it in other languages as well, to become an immense national asset in which all Jews have a part".

A national library, by its very nature, is an undertaking of a nation concentrated in one country. generaliy speaking one language, and possessing a state and government agencies responsible for the promotion of educational objectives and the cultural life of the country, which enable a national library to function. These three conditions were not viable for the Jewish people a century ago. As for tne first two, the majority of the Jewish people had lived outside its homeland since the ninth century BCE, speaking in the many tongues of the lands of their dispersion; the third condition was fulfilled only forty four years ago.

During its many wanderings, the Jewish people has had a complex interrelationship with the cultures of the nations among which it lived, of both polemics and mutual influence, Thus, a Jewish national library cannot limit itself to the preservation of the cultural treasures of the Jewish nation but must also collect the literary results of this interplay with other cultures, religions and nations. Furthermore, it must contain collections documenting the unique history of the Jewish people, so closely linked to that of the nations of Asia, Europe, Africa and America, and collections of publications not only in Hebrew, but in all the languages in which the Jews spoke and wrote, such as Yiddish, Judeo-Spanish, Judeo-Arabic and many more, Those who were charged with the development of the JNUL since its foundation in 1892 until the present, have borne the heavy dual responsibility for collecting every past work, whether in manuscript or in print, and for acquiring relevant current publications.

The history of the JNIJL is intertwined with that of modern Jerusalem. Its first permanent home, "Bayit Ne'eman" on Ethiopia Street, was dedicated in 1902. Early in 1919 after the British completed the conquest of Eretz Israel, the library was transferred from B'nai B'rith to the World Zionist Organization.

With the establishment of the Hebrew University and the opening of academic studies in 1925, the library became part of the Hebrew University and was now officially called "The Jewish National and University Library" IJNULI. Between 1930 and early 1948, it was located in the David Wolffsohn House. a modern building constructed especially for the library on Mount Scopus.

Between 1948 and late 1960, the JNUL, now cut off from Mount Scopus, operated Out of central facilities on the premises of Terra Sancra College with temporary stacks in about ten other buildings spread throughout western Jerusalem. Since the fall of 1960. the library has been at its present site - the Lady Davis Building on the Givat Ram Campus.

The JNUL today has the most extensive collections in the world of Hebraica and Judaica - manuscripts, printed works, documents, recordings and photographs. These include ca. 9000 Hebrew manuscripts, the largest collection of its kind in any library: microfilms of an additional ca. 47,000 Hebrew manuscripts and of more than 200.000 manuscript fragments: and an extensive collection of Hebrew and Jewish newspapers. The JNUL catalogue contains listings for more than 400,000 titles of Hebraic and Judaic printed works: the library also houses tens of thousands of recordings of melodies and musical traditions of the various Jewish communities. To all these one must add ca. 600,000 titles on all aspects of eastern and western civilizations in which Jewish culture is intertwined. Indeed, the aspirations of the visionaries, the founders and the builders of the library have become a living and developing reality.

NIS 0.85 stamp: Parables Brescia, 1491

This is a collection of amusing parables in rhymed prose written in 1281 in Guadalajara, Spain. The author, Yitzhak ben Shlomo ibn Sahula, was a philosopher and kabbalist and, apparently, also a physician, who lived in Spain in the second half of the thirteenth century. His objective was "to present the merits of the Holy Tongue lie. Hebrew)... and show the nations and rulers its beauty". In order to hold the attention of the reader, he added illustrations. The parables are drawn from several sources: the Bible, legends of the Hebrew sages, folk tales and Arabic literature. This first edition (Brescia, Italy, 1491) is the first Hebrew illustrated incunabula. The more than 80 woodcuts that illustrate the tent are the work of an anonymous artist.

NIS 1.00 stamp: Mahzor, Italian manuscript 15th century

This Italian Mahzor is a prayer book for the whole year according to the Italian rite, It includes prayers for weekdays and the Sabbath, festival prayers for Passover and Shavuot, and services for Tisha be-Av and dIner fast-days. The Mahzor was written on parchment in the mid-fifteenth century by Leon (Yehudal ben Yehoshua dv Rossi of Cesena in northern Italy. It contains 3t9 leaves.

The Mahzor is decorated with pen drawings in pink and illustrations very similar to the works of author and artist Yoel ben Shimon Vivus Feibushl Ashkenazi of Cologne, illuminator of many prayer books and Passover Haggadot in Germany and northern Italy.

The manuscript formerly belonged to Baron James de Rothschild in London and was donated to the Jewish National and University Library by Baroness Dorothy de Rothschild.

The second part of the manuscript is in a private collection. Reproduced on the stamp: an illustration for Shavuot (Pentecost) - the Giving of the Law on Mt. Sinai.

NIS 1.20 stamp: Martin Buber's German Bible translation

To prepare a new German translation of the Bible was an idea which occupied Martin Buber (Vienna 1878 - Jerusalem 1965, philosopher, author and Zionist leader) before World War I, but was realized only after the war.

He began the translation in 1923 together with Franz Rosenzweig who, like Buber himself, took an interest in philology and translation. At first they thought of revising and updating Martin Luther's translation, but after a very short try lone day only) they realized that Luther's version did not suit their intention, which was to present the German reader . Jew and Christian alike - with a biblical tent that would preserve the spirit of the original Hebrew.

It was then that Buber was approached by a German publisher, Lambert Schneider, who intended this project to be the first work published by the firm he had founded in Berlin. Rosenzweig, who was ill and knew that he did not have long to live, was excited by the offer. The translation of Genesis in a new and innovative edition appeared in t925. Until Rosenzweig's death in 1929 the following were published: the five Books of the Pentateuch, Joshua, Judges, the Books of Samuel and of Kings, and Isaiah (which includes a notation: "Rosenzweig passed away when the translation had reached Chapter 53"). Buber continued alone, even after the Nazi rise to power. The translation was published by the Schocken Verlag of Berlin between 1932-1937. Until his emigration to Eretz Israel in 1938, Buber completed work on the Prophets, Psalms and Proverbs.

In 1958, at the age of 80 and after a break of 20 years, Buber picked up where he had left off and translated the Book of Job. In 1961 he completed the translation, but continued to revise and correct the tent by handwritten notations in a copy of the printed work. These were incorporated into a new edition that appeared after his death. Since 1962, his translation has gone through at least a dozen printings.

Reproduced on the stamp: a handwritten draft of the translation of Leviticus 25: 10-13.

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Centenary of the jewish national & university library, Jerusalem