Category Archives: dispatches from the rare book room

DRBR 29: In which Proper Decorum is Maintained

Floating around in one of the drawers, I came across a printed leaflet. Can’t remember exactly the purpose of the leaflet–they’re usually solicitations for money–but it featured many pictures of rabbinical trips to Palestine, some of such magnificence that the text was at once forgotten. Here is how one should visit the Western Wall. Nonchalence […]

DRBR 28: How to behave in Shul

What we have today is a lithograph, Das Innere einer Sinagoge in Rom, or Interior of a Synagogue in Rome; click the image at right to see a larger version. It’s by the Swiss artist Hieronymus Hess, and it’s one of a pair, the Rare Book Room doesn’t have the other half of the pair, […]

DRBR 27: Captions Sought

Right, yo. Click the image to see bigger. I’ve got nothing at all on this one; as I recall, it hasn’t been catalogued yet. No artist, no location, no date, nothing. So. What are they saying? Bring on the yeshiva jokes.

DRBR 26: In which the Mikveh is Someone Else’s Problem

Today we have: An Open Letter to the Jewish Married Women Who Are Employed in The Millinery Center, and Also in The Garment and Fur Centers. The flyer isn’t dated. I assume it’s sometime in the 30s when lots of Jews were working in these areas, being ministered to by our Nathan Wolf, amongst others. […]

DRBR 25: In which Fatherly Advice is given and Ladies are Invited

Possibly the best rabbinical business card ever; the rabbi “Gives Fatherly Advice to All,” and on the back, makes sure that you know “Ladies Invited.” Text of front: Tel. CHickering 4-2316 [that’s when you still had to call the exchange, and there were actual live people manning a switchboard] בית מדרש הדגול TIMES SQUARE SYNAGOGUE […]

DRBR 24: In which Newspapers are Handwritten

This caught my eye because it’s just weird to print a newspaper by lithography from a handwritten original. So I went a-searching, and discovered that this was the first Yiddish-language newspaper produced in America. Now the lithography makes much more sense; to produce a Yiddish newspaper you need a newspaper press and a set of […]

DRBR 23: In which the Genoese community is Appreciative

This is DR9 R30, but there’s nothing much in the catalogue about it, which is too bad. It’s a token of appreciation for someone from his co-religionists, in Italian, dated Genoa 1956 (click image to see bigger). We’re looking at it because it has a pretty border, more or less; nothing particularly innovative or unusual […]

DRBR 22: In which Ink Creeps

A clip from a testimonial,* signed by appreciative members of an Italian community in 1956. In the subsequent sixty years, note how one of the substances in the black ink has spread out around the signature, giving it a sort of halo. Ink can be funny like that. It’s one of the reasons artists use […]

DRBR 21: In which the Cardinals are Supplied

Drawer 9 has a lot of pretty things like this: They’re mostly in Italian or Latin, and they have the most lovely illuminated borders, with coats of arms of cardinals. What they are are testimonials. When you supplied things such as furniture to cardinals’ households in seventeenth-century Rome, they might give you a testimonial, which […]

DRBR 20: In which we are Confirmed in Sweden

I thought this picture looked familiar when I saw it in the drawer. It’s the inside of the Great Synagogue at Stockholm, which still has organ at its Shabbat services, and is most particular about employing a non-Jewish organist to play. So what is this? An old-school Reform confirmation certificate, from 1939. (Click image at […]