Thursday, November 10, 2005

Collecting Seforim From A Judenrein Shtetl

Before being shut down by the Tsar in 1836, Yalkut Volhynia notes that my family's shtetl "was considered a junior partner to the Slavuta printing industry in the production of rabbinic literature. Many volumes can still be found in private collections, synagogues and libraries...."

Perhaps the largest private collection of seforim from this shtetl can be found on the bookshelf in my living room. Over the past few years, I have collected 22 seforim from this shtetl and continue to search for more. During my visit to Ukraine, I realized the importance of my collection when I discovered that little remained to testify to the fact that the shtetl once had a significant Jewish presence. Today the shtetl is Judenrein and the only remnants of the Jewish community include the ruins of a Jewish cemetery, a few remaining foundation stones from the destroyed shul, and three mass graves.

I would be fascinated to learn the stories of how these seforim made their way through time. One sefer in my collection has a stamp inside it that indicates that it survived the Nazis' destruction of the famed Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin library. I can only speculate the history behind how this sefer left the printing house in Ukraine, survived a fire, and wound up in an antique book store in Jerusalem.

Who were the people who passed these seforim down through the ages? I imagine that each sefer on my bookshelf has a story to tell and a secret yet to reveal.

--

My collection of seforim from this shtetl consists of the following volumes:

Beis Ephraim - 1833
Chidushei Haran - 1836
Chidushei HaRashba - 1835
Kitzur Shnei Luchos HaBris - 1831
Maaneh Lashon - 1824
Masas Binyamin - 1833
Meir Einei Chachomim - 1834
Mikdash Melech - 1821
Netivos HaMishpat - 1830
Orchos Tzaddikim - 1835
Pnei Yehoshua (Chelek Shlishi v'Revi'i) - 1834
Pri Megadim - 1819
Sefer Ha'Agur - 1834
Sheulos U'Teshuvos Betzalel Ashkenazi - 1833
Sheulos U'Teshuvos Givat Shaul - 1834
Sheulos U'Teshuvos Maharam Alshich - 1834
Sheulos U'Teshuvos Radbaz - 1836
Sheulos U'Teshuvos Radbaz (Chelek Rishon) - 1836
Shita Mekubetzes - 1836
Shulchan Aruch - Chukei Daas - 1835
Simchas HaRegel - 1836
Trumat HaDeshen - 1835

--

Besides seforim from my family's shtetl, I also collect printings of the sefer Degel Machaneh Ephraim. One day I hope to be able to purchase the first edition printed in Koretz in 1810. I am not sure this will ever happen since antique book sellers have told me that this printing has been previously auctioned for $5,000.

To date, I have collected the following printings of Degel Machaneh Ephraim:

1858 - Lemberg
1874 - Zhitomir
1883 - Yosefov
1883 - Warsaw
1912 - Pietrokov
1942 - Satmar
1963 - Jerusalem
1995 - Jerusalem

I continue to search for these four printings:

1850 - Zhitomir
1870 - Lemberg
1912 - Lodz
1947 - New York

If you ever come across any of these seforim, please let me know.

10 Comments:

At November 10, 2005 at 10:22:00 AM EST, Blogger torontopearl said...

What a wonderful Heschel story. It's applicable to many things in our life that we study, and can even be equated with the line about "listening to someone speak, but not really HEARING them."

 
At November 10, 2005 at 9:39:00 PM EST, Blogger PsychoToddler said...

This is pretty amazing. You should get some pictures of these seforim up.

 
At November 11, 2005 at 1:17:00 AM EST, Blogger MC Aryeh said...

Yes, pictures would be great! A very impressive collection. How do you find them - used book stores, auction houses, other collectors?

 
At November 11, 2005 at 5:54:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

PT & MCAryeh:

Here are two pictures for you from seforim I won on eBay auctions.

http://imagehost.vendio.com/bin/imageserver.x/00000000/chanikr/otzadikim.jpg

...and this one that I won yesterday:

http://members.sparedollar.com/Lazy/MikdashMelech-(11).jpg

Besides eBay, I have purchased many of these seforim from book dealers in the United States and Israel.

 
At November 11, 2005 at 10:31:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

SJ,
Have you ever had problems (with these auctions)as far as the seller delovering as he was supposed do?

 
At November 11, 2005 at 1:39:00 PM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

No, I have never had a problem.

 
At November 13, 2005 at 8:32:00 AM EST, Blogger MC Aryeh said...

Thanks for posting pictures of the seforim. They are really beautiful works of art,

 
At August 20, 2015 at 10:57:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have just come across a copy of Degel Machaneh Ephraim (Lemberg 1874). Please let me know if you are interested.

Ari
Ahj@kjk.com

 
At March 5, 2017 at 9:47:00 AM EST, Blogger Barbara Finkelstein said...

Hello. I am working on an article for the Yiddish Forverts about the "lost books" of the Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva. Somebody sent me a link to your fascinating blog post. I am especially interested in your comment here:

"One sefer in my collection has a stamp inside it that indicates that it survived the Nazis' destruction of the famed Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin library. I can only speculate the history behind how this sefer left the printing house in Ukraine, survived a fire, and wound up in an antique book store in Jerusalem."

Would you mind describing the book you have in your library and how it came to be in a Jerusalem antique shop? Perhaps you could also send me a jpg of the book?

Many thanks --

Barbara (Brucha) Finkelstein (brook.finkelstein@gmail.com)

 
At March 5, 2017 at 9:59:00 AM EST, Blogger Barbara Finkelstein said...

Hello again. I forgot to mention that my mother comes from a shtetl in Volhynia called Korytnice (Kritnetse in Yiddish). By any chance, are you familiar with this shtetl?

All best,

Barbara

 

Post a Comment

<< Home