Five Centuries of Best Sellers
Rare Books of the Jewish Public Library
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It's not common for public libraries to have collections of rare books. One tends to find them in universities, museums, and large national libraries who have greater access to the proper funding to preserve and treat these volumes to the right temperature, humidity, and light. One would also be more likely to find polyglot librarians with a fluency in Latin, Turkish, or ancient Semitic languages.

Dr. Yehudah Kaufmann, one of the founders of the Library along with Reuven Brainin studied Semitic languages and philosophy at McGill around 1913. According to one of the early histories of the JPL, he made frequent trips to Philadelphia and New York and acquired a collection of very old Hebrew books. The collection was further developed following the Holocaust when the Allied Occupation Forces in Europe discovered books and religious articles in various locations throughout Europe. They distributed them to various Jewish institutions in the Allied Countries, and subsequently Israel. Holocaust survivors and their children also donated books to this collection throughout the years.

The rare book collection mainly consists of Hebrew books, but there are volumes in Latin, Spanish, Portuguese, French, English, German, Italian, Dutch, and Yiddish. As funding becomes available, the Library will digitize selections from the collection and make them viewable on our web page. Please check back periodically.
Image of Queen Sheba from Robert Stackhouse 19th Century Bible
History and Secular Texts Mysticism and Religious Texts Anti Semitic Texts
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